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Keeping Your Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Holiday pet safety

It’s the holiday season! We all love to deck the halls with festive decorations and throw holiday parties, but it’s also important to remember our pets during this busy time of year.

As wonderful as the holidays are, the decorations and foods of the season pose threats to our furry family members. That said, it’s not impossible to avoid holiday hazards for pets.

Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

Avoid a trip to the pet emergency room with some advanced planning and by taking a few simple precautions. Here are some ways to avoid the most common Christmas dangers for pets:

Christmas Tree

If you have cats or dogs, here are a few things you should think about when it comes to your Christmas tree:

  • Make sure you have a wide, weighted base so your pets can’t knock over the tree. Some cat owners use fishing line to tie their trees to the ceiling.
  • Decorate with pet-friendly ornaments. Avoid anything breakable, as well as ornaments made from dough, popcorn or other foods.
  • Hang family heirloom ornaments high on the tree with wire, especially if you have cats or dogs that like to chew on toys.
  • Do not decorate with tinsel. Many cats and dogs find the silvery strings irresistible and may try to eat it.
  • Pets may chew on or get tangled in light strands. Consider a fiber optic tree or another pre-lighted tree to avoid having to deal with lights.
  • Don’t add anything to the water you use to water your tree, as many additives (including sugar and aspirin) can make your pets sick.

Candles & Lighting

We often decorate for the holidays with special candles and twinkling lights. Keep your pets safe by following these tips:

  • Don’t leave candles burning unattended, and use safe candle holders so pets can’t knock them off your table or mantle.
  • Make sure pets can’t chew on lights or electrical cords by keeping them out of reach, keeping a watchful eye on your furry friends, or using child safety gates to keep your animals out of potentially unsafe areas of the house.
  • Be sure to unplug all holiday lights whenever you leave the house or go to bed.

Holiday Plants

During the holidays, many people like to decorate their homes with fresh plants, but many holiday plants are toxic to cats and dogs. If you wish to decorate with these plants, be sure to keep them in rooms where your pets won’t have access to them or keep the plants outside.

A few plants to avoid include:

  • Amaryllis
  • All lilies
  • Mistletoe
  • Balsam
  • Pine
  • Holly
  • Poinsettia

The ASPCA offers complete lists of poisonous and safe plants for dogs and cats.


Nothing says the holiday season better than presents under the tree, trays of cookies and other baked goods, and other gifts. However, these gifts can be harmful to our pets. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Store all food gifts out of reach or in metal tins if you have mischievous dogs.
  • Avoid ribbons if you have cats who love chewing on them or consider storing presents away from the kitties or doing your gift wrapping at the last minute.  
  • Clear away wrapping paper and ribbons right after a gift exchange so that your pet won’t try to eat any of the decorations.

Parties and Other Gatherings

Hosting a holiday get-together can be a lot of fun, but make sure your pets are safe. Having a lot of strangers in your home can be very stressful to a pet. If your dog can spend the day at a friend’s house, that would be ideal. If that’s not an option, or you have other pets, consider the following options:

  • Prevent pets from escaping as people come and go by keeping them safe in a bedroom or office while you entertain. Make sure they have plenty of food, water, and a litter box.
  • Give your dog a toy, such as a rubber Kong, filled with peanut butter or other toys made for unattended play.
  • Don’t let your pets beg for food from guests. Human food, especially party food, can upset their systems. Some holiday foods, including chocolate, grapes, and raisins, as well as uncooked cookie and bread dough, can be toxic.
  • Add Rescue Remedy to your pet’s water to reduce anxiety.
  • Be sure all of your pets have collars and microchips with up-to-date information. If they do escape in the hubbub, this will make it much easier for them to find their way home.
  • Plan ahead for New Year’s Eve. Many pets are frightened by loud noises and fireworks. Be sure they’re all indoors and in a safe location before the festivities begin.

Have a Plan

There’s so much going on during the holidays that sometimes things happen. Make sure you and everyone in your family (including overnight guests) have access to your vet’s office information as well as a 24/7 emergency vet. Keeping them by the front door or the fridge are good places. Also write down the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435.

Happy Holidays

We at ABC Home & Commercial Services would like to wish you and all of your family members (both the two- and four-legged variety), a happy holiday season. If you need a hand with last minute holiday lighting, landscaping, or pest control services, be sure to contact us.

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