December Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

December Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Every year we look forward to the winter holidays. All of that shiny gold and silver, candles and sparkly lights. So much joy in the air you could just about cut it with a butter knife. The winter holidays are fantastic fun for everyone, including your cats and dogs who seem to know just how to get into trouble when there’s a lot going on.

We thought you could use a few holiday safety tips so you don't wind up at the vet's office if your pet eats something they shouldn't. Pet emergency visits get a lot more frequent during the holiday season and for good reason. Christmas with your pets can be more hazardous because there’s so much more stuff around that can hurt them! So let’s take a look at some of the holiday dangers for pets.

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets 101

Get ready for a crash course in holiday pet safety! We’ll keep this brief so you can get back to wrapping presents and having a merry Christmas with your pets.

Holiday Plant Hazards for Pets

Did you know that the lovely mistletoe you hung and the beautiful poinsettia your Aunt Rose sent you could actually poison your animals? Many people have no idea that these Christmastime plants that we all love so much could mean the loss of a beloved furry family member.

The beautiful red berries of mistletoe are actually toxic for your cats and dogs. The berries contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins, which could cause mild gastrointestinal upset if ingested in small amounts or even worse in larger amounts. Your dog or cat could experience very dangerous symptoms such as heart collapse or hypotension, seizures, ataxia, or even death. Keep mistletoe out of reach of your dogs and cats, so they don’t get poisoned by this beautiful holiday tradition.

Similarly, poinsettias have a milky white sap inside of them that contains diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents which can cause all sorts of gastrointestinal issues for your dog or cat, including drooling or vomiting. While this is less severe than mistletoe poisoning, you still want to keep poinsettia plants in an area where your dog or cat has no access to them.

If you think your dog or your cat has ingested either mistletoe or poinsettia leaves or stems, contact your local emergency veterinarian for assistance or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline.

A box of holiday fudge sits among holiday decorations on a wooden table

Holiday Food Hazards for Pets

There are also lots of holiday treats and goodies around for people to eat that are not necessarily healthy for dogs and cats. Here’s a list of the biggest no-no’s that could be hidden dangers for your four-legged friends:

  • Candy and candy wrappers.
  • Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can be toxic to pets.
  • Bones from holiday turkeys or chickens could be very dangerous and cause your pets to choke.
  • Garlic, onions, and leeks.
  • Alcohol is even more toxic to pets than to people.
  • Various types of nuts, like macadamia nuts, are very high in fat and can cause pancreatic issues in your pets.
  • Nutmeg and cinnamon are common spices used at Christmas time, but can cause very serious health complications for your pets.
A white cat sits next to a christmas tree among holiday decorations

Keep Your Pets Away from the Holiday Decor

Much of our favorite holiday decor can be holiday dangers for pets. Pets can mistake your knick knacks for something to eat, or they could lie on something that could hurt them, like lit holiday candles.

Keep holiday decorations inaccessible to pets as much as possible and make sure to supervise your pets more diligently during the holiday season. Here are some of common holiday decor dangers for your pets:

  • Lit candles can be very dangerous for your pets. They could brush against them and get burned or singe their fur. Or they could knock them over and start a fire. Try using LED flameless candles instead.
  • Christmas ornament hooks can be very dangerous for pets, who could get them lodged in their throat or choke on them.
  • Wrapping paper and ribbons are especially interesting to pets. Dogs like chewing up the paper, and to cats the ribbons look like shiny, wriggly play things. If swallowed, ribbons and bows can cause intestinal blockage requiring emergency care, which would surely ruin the holiday for all involved.
  • Strings of lights pose an electrical threat to your pets. Keep strings of lights where they cannot reach them for chewing, or bind your excess light strings with a tube to keep them away from your pets.
  • Secure your tree. We’ve all seen hilarious videos of cats climbing trees or bigger dogs bumbling past them and knocking them down. While it may seem funny, falling Christmas trees could pin your animal or at least frighten them. Secure the tree to the wall to help prevent this holiday catastrophe.
  • Wagging tails can also wreak havoc on a Christmas tree. Check the floor each day for broken Christmas ornaments, which could pose a choking hazard or cut the paws of your precious pets that could step on glass shards.
  • Additional tree dangers include sharp pine needles that can cause choking or puncture wounds, or tree water additives that can be poisonous to pets.
A french bulldog sleeps on a brown doggie bed near a christmas tree

Make Sure Your Pets Are Calm and Feeling Safe

The holidays are full of fun and excitement, but all of this extra activity could be stressful for your pets. It will help your pets a lot if you just keep the routine as normal as possible.

If their sleeping area has been displaced by the Christmas tree, make sure to find another area that is quiet for them to have their comfy bed and a place to get away from all the hustle and bustle

Make sure to feed and water them at the normal times so their routine is kept consistent. And, of course, be sure to get your dog outside for extra walks and exercise to help burn off excess energy.

If you’re already using CBD tinctures for dogs or CBD tinctures for cats for your furry friends, keep their daily regimen consistent as well to help them deal with the holiday busyness.

You can also add a CBD treat or chew to give extra support for your dog or cat while Santa is ho-ho-ho-ing and kids are running and playing. It can all get overwhelming for your pets and cause them undue stress or disrupt their sleep cycles.

Share the Holiday Safely with Your Pets

While your guests are gathering and petting Fido’s head, remind them not to feed him anything that’s not on his doggy menu. Watch out for those children who are having a great time, but might think chasing the cat is a good idea. The holidays are a lot more fun when your pets are enjoying it is much as you are. Also, check out these winter weather safety tips to keep your pets safe in snowman season!

Sometimes it can get really busy, but if you take just a moment to sit down with your pet and have some snuggle time, it can go a long way to settle their nerves (and yours!). Remember these holiday safety tips and make your pets a priority to ensure a safe, healthy, happy conclusion to the holidays and your year. Make sure to follow our blogfollow our blog for more great tips on how you can give your furry little friends their healthiest and best life.