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Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time for us all — including pets. Keep your pets happy and safe throughout the holiday season.

Keep pets safe during the holidays.

Pet-Proof Your Christmas Tree

Christmas tree.

Whether live or artificial, a Christmas tree is potentially hazardous to your pets. Ensure your pets remain healthy and your tree stays upright with some simple precautions:

  • Keep the tree blocked off with a playpen or other barrier because tree needles are sharp and indigestible to pets. If necessary, use a pet / baby gate to block off an entire room.
  • Cover your tree stand with aluminum foil to prevent your pets from drinking out of it. Tree sap and water can be a lethal combination.
  • Secure your tree to the wall or ceiling so climbing cats or playful dogs can't knock it over.

Christmas Trees, Stands & Skirts

Decorate With Your Pet's Safety in Mind

Ornaments.

It's normal for pets to be curious about the new and unfamiliar. Ensure your decorations are pet-friendly:

  • Choose Christmas tree ornaments carefully, and avoid those made of glass, contain small detachable parts or are covered in toxic paint. If you aren't sure if an ornament is pet-safe, hang it out of your pet's reach, or leave it off the tree completely. Decorate the bottom of your tree with nonbreakable, nontoxic items.
  • Don't decorate with edible ornaments, such as candy canes, Christmas cookies, popcorn garlands or cranberry strands. They make pets sick, and your dog may knock over the tree while attempting to reach them.
  • Say no to tinsel. Even if you only decorate the upper branches of your tree with tinsel, it can fall to lower branches and the floor. When swallowed, it can block your pet's intestines.
  • Select nontoxic varieties of holiday plants to beautify your home. Amaryllis, holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all beautiful to look at, but they're toxic to pets. Choose spider plants, American violets or Boston ferns instead.
  • Keep snow globes on the mantle or a high shelf so your dog can't break them with a wag of his tail. This classic decoration often contains antifreeze that, although sweet-tasting, is deadly to pets.

Ornaments

Don't Let Your Pet Get Burned

Lights.

Nothing makes a home more festive than the warm glow of candles and twinkling lights. You don't have to do without, just choose options that safeguard your pet:

  • Make electrical cords less enticing. Cats, in particular, love to chew on dangling cords, which can result in shock or electrocution. Protect cords with cord covers, tinfoil tape or double-sided tape. You can also wipe down cords with something cats find distasteful, such as hot sauce, lavender oil or vinegar.
  • Choose flameless candles. Wagging tails and curious paws don't mix with traditional candles. Opt instead for LED (light-emitting diode) flameless candles.
  • String Christmas tree lights on high branches only. Lights can become hot and burn your pet's paws or mouth.

Christmas Lights

Keep Food and Drink Away From Your Pet

Garbage can.

Holiday food is as tempting to pets as it is to us. Unlike humans, pets don't understand that certain foods can make them sick. Ensure your pet stays well by doing the following:

  • Don't feed your pets food scraps. Nothing puts pounds on a pet like table scraps, plus turkey and chicken bones can choke dogs.
  • Keep bowls of candy and chocolate well out of your pet's reach. Chocolate is toxic to pets, and even a small amount can make pets sick, while hard candy presents a choking hazard.
  • Secure the trash so curious pets can't forage for food scraps.
  • Keep wine, eggnog and other alcoholic beverages away from your pet.

Storage & Organization

Be Considerate of Your Pet

Pet bed.

Remember to keep your pet's interest top of mind. While the holidays can be a busy time, it's easy to keep your pet happy and content:

  • Play with him, take him on long walks and provide him with healthy treats and stimulating toys. A bored pet is more likely to get into mischief so keep him active and entertained.
  • Vary your pet's routine as little as possible. Keep his walks, feed and play times, and naps on a regular schedule.
  • Confine your pet to an unused room or crate. Some of your guests may be uncomfortable or afraid around pets, while your pet may be nervous or frightened by a large group of unfamiliar people. Ensure a comfortable situation for both by keeping your pets safely confined.

Animal & Pet Care