Holiday Pet Safety Guide

By Christina Burns

The holiday season is upon us, and if you are like me and my family, our furry companions are just as much a part of celebrations as any human would be! The food, gatherings and decorations that help to make the holiday season so much fun for us, could be very dangerous for our furry companions. Below are some helpful tips to keep your pets safe this holiday season:

Feeding and Exercise:

  • Keep your pets feeding schedule as close to their normal routine as possible.
  • Ensure that your pet is fed their normal diet. My dog knows when she is getting her breakfast and dinner and it’s for the most part – the same consistent food with exception to some boiled chicken, rice and eggs – her favorite things!
  • Make sure your pets exercise and potty routine is the consistent to their normal schedule as well.
  • Keep the trash can(s) closed.
  • Skip the sweets: never feed pets anything that contains chocolate or xylitol.
  • Ensure that your guests are not feeding your pet any table scrapes and possibly crate your dog during mealtime.

Seasonal Plants and Decorations:

  • Christmas Tree:
    • Secure your tree so that it does not tip over.
    • Use a tree skirt to cover up the water so your pet(s) do not drink it. Tree water can contain bacteria that can lead to nausea or diarrhea.
    • Do NOT use a tree preserver – these are toxic and can lead to death.
  • Mistletoe, Holly, Poinsettia and Lilies:
    • Holly: can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    • Mistletoe: can cause gastrointestinal issues, and cardiovascular problems.
    • Lilies: can cause kidney failure in cats.
    • Poinsettia: have irritating sap that can cause mouth blisters, and stomach upset.
  • Tinsel:
    • If your cats are like mine they love the sparkly, light-catching toys that I used to hang from my tree. That is until one year when I caught them pawing at the tree, knocking off ornaments, and carrying the tinsel around in their mouths. That being said, pets, cats and dogs alike, can swallow tinsel which can block their digestive tract, causing vomiting or even lead to surgery.
  • Candles:
    • Burnt whiskers and eyebrows is not a good look for anyone let alone our pets. Keep real candles high up, and blow out if you leave the room. A good option for the holiday glow is the use of battery operated candles.
  • Snow globes:
    • Imported snow globes were found to contain deadly liquids. It’s best to not keep these in the home, or possibly keep them out of reach of pets.
  • Liquid Potpourri or Oils:
    • There is nothing like a house that smells like the holidays – pine, eucalyptus, nutmeg and other smells are popular potpourri and oils but one sniff or lick can result in an emergency trip to the veterinarian. It’s best to avoid these.
  • Lights and Ornaments:
    • Keep lights high up.
    • Keep glass or plastic ornaments out of pets reach.

Holiday Gatherings:

  • House Rules:
    • Ensure that your guests know your house rules for your pets. Mine include no table food, and no beverages.
  • Personal Items:
    • Keep all personal items such as purses, bags, etc. away from pets – placed high or in a closet. Often times these items can contain medications, cosmetics and other items that pets should steer clear of.
  • Personal Space:
    • Give pets their own quiet space to relax when the festivities begin. Shy pets will find comfort in having their own area to relax, snuggle, and drink some water. This is especially important for new pets.
  • New Year Eve:
    • Confetti: can get stuck in pets intestines often times requiring surgery. Best to stay away from these.
    • Poppers: can terrify pets and cause eye or ear drum damage.
    • Fireworks: are often scary for pets causing them to run! Make sure you secure them in a safe, escape proof part of your home, not outside.

When it comes to the holiday season, there is nothing more fun than celebrating with all family members, however, the best thing a pet owner can do is:

  • Get educated on common household toxins.
  • Pet-Proof your home
  • Get Pet Insurance just in case! This is one of my best monthly investments and provides a piece of mind for me!
  • Ensure that your pet is protected and safe during family gatherings.
  • Contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian and/or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with questions/concerns.


About Me:

Christina lives in sunny Orange County, CA as a full-time working pet mommy. Her love of animals goes back to her childhood where she used to rescue animals big and small and bring them home to her family. Always an avid pet owner, cats specifically, she adopted her first dog in 2012 where her zest for learning and finding healthy options for her pets has become a passion of hers. She is excited to begin sharing her knowledge with a larger audience.

Her pet mommy mantra: Remember pet parenthood is a privilege and an honor; try to find new ways to share new experiences with your furry family- life is short!