The holiday season is upon us, and the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s promise to hold many celebrations with family and friends – and, of course, our pets. That’s because a full 70% of American pet owners consider their pets to be family members – making holiday pet safety a must this holiday season.

The holidays can present some very real risk for our pets. From rich holiday foods to seasonal decorations, visitors, parties; it’s important to be aware of how to keep our pets safe this time of year. 

Bowman Veterinary Hospital shares some of our best tips for holiday pet safety, and how to avoid a trip to the animal emergency room this year. 

Seasonal Decorations and Plants

Oh, Christmas Tree. Don’t let your pets turn your Christmas tree into a jungle gym. Many pets will learn to ignore the tree, but if yours is not that pet, anchor it to a wall or other stable surface. It’s also important to note that pesticides and chemicals can leach from the tree into the water, so don’t let your stand become a makeshift pet bowl. 

Holiday plants. Certain plants common to the season are toxic to pets, including holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias. Keep all plants out of pets’ reach, and check the ASPCA list of toxic plants before you bring any plants into the house.   

Tinsel-less town. Tinsel is one of the most dangerous holiday decorations out there. That’s because if ingested, it can wind its way around delicate intestines and be impossible to remove without surgery. Cats are particularly drawn to this sparkly, light reflecting ‘toy,’ so beware.  We recommend not using it at all. 

Holiday glow. Candles are a beautiful part of the season, but curious pets can end up with singed whiskers and tails. Keep candles well out of reach or consider LED lights instead. 

Wired up. Speaking of lights, string lights on the floor can pose a chewing and electrocution hazard. Entanglement could also happen if pets try to play with strings of lights. 

Holiday Fare

Big meals, treats galore, and gift-wrapped food items are all on the menu throughout the holiday season, so be sure to offer up a side-dish of constant vigilance anytime food is front and center or gifts are being brought into the home. 

Many of our favorite foods can be toxic to pets, and as food gifts drift into our homes (often unbeknownst to us), danger can be afoot. Add in holiday buffets, empty plates and open garbage, and soon you’ll have a recipe for disaster. 

Fatty, salty and sugary foods can cause GI upset, foreign body obstruction, and even pancreatitis – a painful and potentially deadly condition. Be sure to keep these holiday foods and festivities on high for your pet’s safety:

  • Xylitol
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol and cannabis
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes, raisins
  • Onions, chives, and garlic

In addition to these foods, make sure pets cannot access and are not fed: 

  • Bones
  • Raw meat or poultry skin
  • Turkey string or wrappings
  • Garbage bins
  • Leftovers

Safety During Parties and Gatherings

For pets who are comfortable with fun, the hustle and bustle of the season can be something to wag their tails about. But, for shy or anxious pets, a house full of visitors, holiday parties, and a change in routine can be very stressful. 

Try to keep your pet’s feeding, exercise, and playtime schedule as close to normal as possible during the holiday season. Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise to minimize stress. Doggie day care, a few hours with a pet sitter, or a few hours in a quiet room can do wonders for an anxious pet. 

Extra stress and anxiety can mean an extra risk of pets escaping from frequently opening doors. Ensure your pet is protected with a microchip that is registered with your current contact information. 

Holiday Pet Safety

Don’t let yourself fall onto the naughty list at the eleventh hour because you find that, amidst all the hustle and bustle, you forgot to spend a little time with your favorite fur friend. This year, we encourage you to slow down and enjoy the season with your pet. A little holiday petflicks and chill, an extra hike, or some special brushing may be just the ticket to honor your pet and the special bond you share. 

If you have questions about holiday pet safety, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. From all of us, warmest holiday wishes to you and yours.