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Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Dec 09, 2015


With all the festivities that take place during the holidays, there also comes potential risk for our furry family members. Here are some tips to keep your pets safe during the holidays.


  • Ornaments and little figurines can be choking hazards to curious pets. Place them high and away from where pets can reach them.
  • Christmas trees should be tied and anchored securely to prevent trees from falling over. Many hanging ornaments are made of fragile materials like glass and can shatter and cause injury to pets.
  • Tinsel, ribbons, string are especially attractive to cats so these should be placed away from where pets can reach them.   

 Holiday Plants

  • Pine needles can be toxic when eaten by your pet. Make sure sweep up any fallen pine needles frequently.
  • Holiday plants like mistletoe and holly can cause upset stomach, vomiting, even fatal heart problems if ingested by pets. Place these in an area that can’t be reached by pets. 


  • Electric lights and extension cords should be safely secured and covered to prevent your pets from chewing on them, which can lead to electric shock.
  • Candles and liquid fragrances should be placed away from where pets can reach to prevent any accidents. 

Cold Weather

  • When temperatures drop, bring your pets inside. Even with their fur coats, dogs and cats are vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia.
  • When going out for long periods of time, make sure to dress your pet in appropriate sweaters or snowshoes. 


  • With all the visitors coming and going, keep your yard secure to prevent pets from running out.
  • Make sure all guests store their medications in a safe place that cannot be accessed by pets. Medicine should be in containers with child-resistant lids and stored in closed cabinets.
  • Ask your guests to refrain from giving your pet human food, or leaving food out. It might be tempting for people who are not used to having pets to give in to those cute, puppy eyes. They may not be aware that certain common holiday foods like grapes, chocolate, and nutmeg can be dangerous for pets.

Food Hazards

  • While tempting, it is not recommended to give your pets bones, uncooked or cooked. Bones may become lodged or cause a tear in the esophagus or intestinal tract, as well as fracture teeth and cause dietary indiscretion. This would include large meat bones as well as poultry bones.  Make sure to dispose of these promptly and properly.
  • Rich, fatty foods like turkey skin, gravy, buttery foods, and other “people” food, can cause pancreatitis in pets, which is very serious and painful. Diagnoses of pancreatitis peaks during the holiday season due to overindulgence. Instead of people food, have some extra treats or toys handy to reward your pet.
  • Chocolate is a common gift and food item during the holidays so it’s good to be extra vigilant when it comes to keeping it away from your pets. If you suspect a wrapped gift to contain chocolate, do not place them under the tree or where your dog can reach them. Common signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea, difficulty keeping balance, muscle spasms, seizures, and coma.
  • Any alcoholic beverage is dangerous for your pet. Alcohol causes ethanol poisoning. Common signs of ethanol poisoning include respiratory failure, depression, weakness, decreased body temperature, and heart attack. If left untreated, your pet can go into a coma or die.

Save and print out this poster of toxic foods for your dogs.
Click here to download the full size. 



Despite the less-than-joyful tone of this blog post, we hope you find it helpful to ensure that you and your family have a happy, healthy, and fur-filled holiday!

And as a reminder, should your pets become ill or injured during the holiday season, The COVE is open 24/7 for emergencies. Feel free to call us at 757-935-9111 so that we can be prepared for your arrival and be notified if you need assistance bringing your pet inside. 


ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants

Cold Weather Pet Safety

People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

Holiday Pet Hazards Infographic

Category: Pet Health Tips