Holiday Safety Tips for the Pets in Your Home​

Updated: Apr 25, 2019


It’s undeniable that our pets mean so much to us. That’s why we take extra precaution and safety measures to keep our furry ones safe. This is especially important during the holidays. Why, you may ask?  We asked Cecille O’Brien Greenleaf, VMD, what pet owners usually come to her for during the holiday months.


“During the holidays people are entertaining and get distracted, they are not paying attention to their pets all the time. They tend to leave different foods out and pets can get into food like chocolate and cookies or eat foreign bodies,” she said. A foreign body is defined as an object or piece of extraneous matter that has entered the body by accident or design, explains Dr. O’Brien. Examples of this are tinsel, rubber bands, and ribbons that get into the intestines and act like an accordion causing major damage.


So, is extra precaution necessary to keep pets safe during the holidays? We think so – and Dr. O’Brien seems to agree. Let’s take a closer look at some safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season so you and your furry ones can enjoy the holidays while keeping them out of the veterinary emergency room.


Pet proof your holiday tree

Be sure to regularly clean up the pine tree needles as they fall, as these can be toxic and cause upset stomach and even rupture intestines if ingested. You’ll want to secure the tree stand with a tight fitting skirt to keep your pets away from the water, as this can contain fertilizers or additives to keep the tree fresh longer. The still water can also be a breeding ground for bacteria. For these reasons, ingesting the water can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and or vomiting. So, it’s best to take this preventive measure.


Be extra cautious with breakable holiday ornaments and snow globes

Breakable ornaments and snow globes add a touch of holiday spirit to your home, but they can also pose certain risks. If your pet comes into contact with broken ornaments they can suffer external injuries. Worse yet, if ingested they can cause internal perforations and lacerations. The liquid in snow globes contain ethylene glycol, if one breaks and your cat or dogs licks the liquid, take them to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital immediately.


Keep holiday decorations out of your pet’s reach

Lights, electrical cords, candles, and tinsel. If ingested, tinsel can block their intestines causing major damage only treatable through surgical intervention. Although, you don’t need to strip your house of holiday decorations, you should take precautions to keep your pets safe during the holidays by keeping these decorations out of your pet’s reach. For example, hang your tree lights, ornaments, and tinsel just a little higher from the ground. Place candles and snow globes in higher places like your fireplace mantle instead of your coffee table or other low areas. Do not leave electrical cords exposed, if possible tape them down and keep them out of reach.


Be mindful about where you place your holiday plants

Holiday plants add a special touch to our holiday festivities, but they can also be harmful to pets. While holly and mistletoe are two of the most poisonous plants to cats and dogs, amaryllis, lilies, and poinsettias can also be harmful, so these are best kept out of your pet’s reach.


Know what foods to avoid feeding your pet

Chocolate, alcohol, grapes, cookies, candies, macadamia nuts, and sugar free items can all be toxic to pets. Be sure your guests understand not to give your pets any treats without your permission. You can still give your pet a little holiday treat mixed in with their regular food, just be sure to check with your vet for a full list of pet approved treats. However, some safe foods are pumpkin, peanut butter, sweet potato, carrots, and green beans.


Create a designated gift wrapping area away from your pets

If you’re gift wrapping at home, make sure to keep your pet away. Gift wrap, string, ribbon, and cellophane can cause intestinal blockages. Be careful about leaving wrapped gifts with ribbon and bows under the tree where your pets can get to them, especially if any of them contain food.


Spending the holidays with your pets can be safe and enjoyable as long as you’re mindful of your pet’s safety and create pet-friendly environment for them. With a little foresight and planning you can keep your furry ones away from the emergency room this holiday season.


However, if the unthinkable happens be prepared with the contact numbers to your veterinarian and the nearest emergency hospital.

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