Many pet owners are on high alert during the last couple months of the year – and for good reason! Without a doubt, holiday-related risks seem to multiply between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. Like many things in life, the more you prepare for possible calamity the better off you are. To that end, we’ve got a few holiday pet safety rules waiting in the wings so you and your pet can only make good memories this season!

Stay On Track

Most of our daily schedules go off the rails around the holidays. Just as we are negatively affected by foregoing the gym, pets are profoundly impacted without their routines. They utterly depend on anticipated meal times, specific times for bathroom breaks, and scheduled opportunities for physical activity and mental stimulation. 

This holiday season, stay true to your pet’s daily routine. If you cannot be there for them at times they are accustomed to, be sure to hire a sitter, dog walker, daycare, or boarding facility to address their important needs.

Hosting Guests

Whether you are simply hosting a meal or tending to houseguests, be sure that your pet isn’t at risk in the following ways:

  • Instruct guests not to share human food with your pet.
  • Ask that they not allow your pet to exit the house through the front door (is your pet microchipped? Do they have proper identification affixed to a snug collar?).
  • Request that they keep any medication secured.
  • Ask that they give your pet space.

Make sure that your pet has a calm, quiet place they can retreat to when/if the holiday gatherings get too loud. A nice walk before guests arrive (and certainly after they leave) can make all the difference to your pet’s stress levels.

Holiday Decor & More

There are some pretty obvious dangers to holiday pet safety, and some subtle ones, too. A real holiday tree, for starters, is a big risk. Fallen needles can poke delicate skin, but a real threat is the standing water in the tree stand. Dangerous chemicals (think formaldehyde and fire retardants) are often present in the water, but a thirsty pet won’t know that. Also, it’s important to stabilize the tree to the wall or ceiling in case your pet decides to climb it.

Other risks from holiday decorations include:


  • Plants – To minimize the risk of poisoning, poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly should not be displayed inside the home.
  • Lights – String lights and extension cords should not be placed on the ground where they can nibble on. They can also pose an entanglement risk.
  • Flames – Real candles can burn or singe whiskers. Liquid potpourri and incense are also risky.
  • Breakables – Glass ornaments and other breakable items should only be displayed when confident that your pet cannot break them, endangering their delicate paw pads.
  • Foreign Bodies – Ribbon, tinsel, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, garlands, paper, bows and more can all lead to serious GI obstructions. Please be sure to clean up thoroughly after the gift exchange. (Edible gifts shouldn’t be left alone beneath the tree!).


Holiday Pet Safety & Human Foods

The holidays are all about indulgences, but we must exclude our pets. You can definitely make them a special plate of bite-sized white meat, apple bites, steamed carrots, green beans, and sweet potato, but they should never have access to the following:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes, raisins, currants
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chives
  • Xylitol (found in sugar-free baked goods and candy)
  • Fatty meat can lead to a seriously upset tummy, or pancreatitis
  • Bones

If you have additional questions or concerns about holiday pet safety, please contact us. From all of us at Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital, have a safe and happy holiday!