Holiday Pet Safety Tips

Here is a list of holiday items to be mindful of to ensure you and your pets make it through the holiday season in one piece.

Holiday Treats

Many traditional holiday foods contain ingredients that are toxic to our pets. Make sure all food, sweets, and adult beverages are kept out of reach of pets and instruct your guests not to share. Be especially mindful of young kids. Little kids are at perfect sharing height, so your pet will quickly learn to hover to get lots of yummy, but potentially dangerous treats. Small dogs and cats are especially at risk, as they only need a small amount of ingredients to start feeling the negative effects. If your dog is a counter surfer or likely to get into the trash, it might be in their best interest to keep them put away during the party or arrange a sleepover for them at TGDS! Better to have them miss out on the party then have to rush them to the emergency room. It is a good idea to have the phone number for your local emergency vet clinic and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number (1-888-426-4435) on the fridge in case of an emergency.

Foods your dog should not eat include chocolate, grapes or raisins, onions, garlic, turkey bones, xylitol sweetener, excessively salty foods, yeast dough, seasoned meats and gravy, and alcohol.

Signs your dog may have eaten something toxic include drooling, lip licking, vomiting, lethargy, refusing to eat, diarrhea, constipation, and any other abnormal behaviors. 

Seasonal Decorations

Dogs and cats are curious, playful animals, which means they can get themselves into a lot of trouble over the holiday season. To prevent any disasters, here are some tips:

  • Secure your tree to prevent any climbing cats from knocking it over.
  • Place valuable tree decorations towards the top. Playful paws or happy tails will likely knock off any low-hanging decorations.
  • Avoid decorating your tree with tinsel to prevent your pets from swallowing it.
  • Skip the holiday plants if you have a plant chewer. Poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, lilies, and the Christmas tree can all pose a risk to your pet if ingested (particularly to cats!).
  • Monitor your pets around any new plants and the tree to make sure they aren’t chewing and swallowing them.
  • Many pets enjoy drinking the Christmas tree water, which can contain bacteria, mold, or chemicals from the tree. Many retailers offer pet-proof tree stands to prevent your pet from drinking or playing in the water.
  • In general, monitor your pet for the first couple days after putting out new decorations to see how they will behave. This will help you identify any problems sooner than later.


Busy holiday seasons and frequent visitors often disrupt our pets’ normal schedules and training routines. Monitor your pet for signs of stress or for inappropriate interactions with your guests. Not all guests are pet savvy or recognize signs of discomfort. Be especially mindful of interactions with children. Even if you have the most patient dog in the world they need to be given their space and the ability to get away when they are uncomfortable. All interactions with children should be monitored closely, especially if the dog has food or valuable toys or bones around. Children should be instructed to be calm around any pets, and be taught to pet nicely, rather than to pull tails or ears, sit on or hug. The last thing anyone wants to do on a holiday is to rush a child to the emergency room because of a bite or scratch from a stressed-out pet. To prevent any problems, give your pet safe places to go away from the commotion and instruct children to leave the animal alone if they go to their safe space. This could be a bedroom, their crate, or a bed. Don’t be afraid to give your guests guidance on how to interact safely with your pets or to encourage them to follow your training protocols. If you have a nervous pet, it may be best to keep them away in a separate room or to board them with us at TGDS to prevent any disasters.