The winter holidays are the perfect time to reflect on what we are thankful for. A time to enjoy family and friends. A time to appreciate our blessings and share them with others. But this can also be a chaotic time of year for us and for our furry companions. Here are 14 holiday pet safety tips to make sure your pets have a happy time!

Dog and cat safe Christmas tree

holiday pet safety hazard- cat touching bauble

Our furry friends love the sparkles, lights, baubles and all decorations that a Christmas Tree offers. In other words, it is like a playground for them! So we should accept: they WILL TRY to jump, climb or at least play with the decorations, sooner or later. Nevertheless, there are some pet safety measures we can take to minimize the hazard risks:

  • Go fake rather than natural, as pine needles can be harmful to their eyes and stomach.
  • Tree Water: if you go natural, cover the water tray so your pet doesn’t drink from it, as it may contain fertilizers and bacteria that can sicken them.
  • Secure the Christmas tree: firmly anchor it so it doesn’t tip and fall if they climb or jump on it.
  • Help prevent jumping: place the tree away from other furniture that can be used as a launch platform. Preferably on a corner.
  • Minimize their curiosity: set up the tree a few days before start decorating, so they get used to it (and hopefully lose interest) without all the shiny, irresistible stuff calling their attention.
  • Keep pets away: wrap the tree trunk in foil and spread some citrus peels around the base. Most cats hate these two, so it helps to keep them away.
  • Focus on the top half: place most decorations on the top half of the tree to minimize their reach.
  • No glass ornaments: they can break, cause cuts and lacerations. Opt for safe materials instead.


Other Holiday pet safety tips: decorations and ornaments


  • Tinsel or fake snow: tinsel decorations may be very appealing as toys. But if ingested, they can cause your pet to choke, or they may become knotted in their bowel, possibly requiring emergency surgery. fake snow also may look like something edible to cats and dogs and contain chemicals that may intoxicate your precious. So choose pet-safe ornaments and enjoy their company instead!
  • Mistletoe & Holly: they are poisonous to animals and if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Instead, you may opt for artificial decorations or at least place them at an unreachable height to your pets.
  • Wires: wires are potential electrical shock and burn hazards to pets. They should be taped to the walls and floor whenever possible. Additionally, wire extensions from the wall should be protected with hard plastic covers to avoid dogs and cats chewing on them. Also, place Christmas lights at a higher spot that they cannot reach easily.
  • Candles: never leave lit candles unattended as they are a potential fire hazard and can burn fido and kitty. Additionally, make sure they are placed out of their reach. Alternatively, consider simply having fake, battery-powered candles. They are the safest option and, as a bonus, you will impress your pet-loving relatives with your thoughtful choice.

LED candles as a holiday pet safety measure

Which food to give or not

dog receiving a treat

  • Food leftovers: this holiday pet safety hazard can often be overlooked in amidst all the buzz. But don’t forget: kindly ask your friends and relatives to resist the temptation of feeding your tail-wagger with people food. What is enjoyable for us is not necessarily good for them! For example, shattered or splintered meat bones can perforate or cause blockage in their intestinal tract. Also, chocolate or candies containing xylitol can cause various problems, from an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea to more serious effects like seizures, muscle tremors and even heart attacks (check the blog on what can dogs not eat from Your Dog Advisor for more details). So if you want to give them a treat, have their own pet food available! There is plenty of healthy dog and cat treats & chews available and they will appreciate it just as much!


Create a pet retreat for your beloved fur baby

two dogs sleeping with sleeping mask

  • A stress-free space with closed doors: with the constant coming and going of guests, open doors may become an escape route for distressed or anxious pets who are not used to having other people in the house. Children, for instance, can often overwhelm dogs and cats in their excitement to play. So if you have a shy cat or dog, place them in a quiet room with water, food and a place to rest, away from the noise and with closed doors. A comfy bed where they can snuggle may be just what they need to relax and enjoy themselves.

Share your holiday pet safety tips

How do you keep your pets happy and safe during the holiday season? Share your comments below.