Holiday Tips for Pet Safety

Holidays are a special time for people to gather with their friends and family, but sometimes these same events bring stress on a pet.

Here are a few things you can do (that we’ve learned from personal experience as pet owners and foster pet parents) to help your furry friend enjoy the festivities without the trauma. 

Food Goodies 

Remember people food is for people only. Although it may seem harmless, giving pets food that is prepared for humans can be devastating to an animal and may be toxic.  

People food may not provide the proper nutrients or vitamins that your pet requires.  Plus giving meat with bones can cause an obstruction and choke your pet.   

Never give chicken or meat with bones in it.  They can split and get caught in the throat or cause internal damage.
Also, turkey is a big no-no, unless it is prepared especially for pets in their food. 

Never give a pet alcohol, starches, rich or spicy foods as they can cause digestive tract problems and blockages.  Cats cannot digest starches such as bread, chips, crackers or noodles.  Medical bills can be quite costly if they ingest these products. 
One of our rescues used to love eating these kinds of things. She would even grab Doritos and once ran off with an entire chicken thigh.  My husband snagged it from her before she got to munch down on it.  Although it was funny watching her make a run for it, the outcome could have been dangerous. 

Keep certain fruits like raisins or grapes, avocados, onions, garlic, caffeine, cookies, cakes and candy out of reach; never feed a pet chocolate or nuts. This includes trying to get the dog to eat that age old fruitcake!  Desserts with xylitol (an artificial sweetener) in them can be fatal. 

You may love those delicious dairy and meat trays, but many pets (especially cats) are lactose intolerant and it could cause severe bowel and digestive problems.  One more thing, if you think cats need milk, think again … your pet will be much healthier. 

A small treat such as a chunk of cheese or meat is equal to the size of a burger in their little tummies.  So while you are dining, it’s best to provide a super meal in another room away from temptation for your precious pet.  We make sure to have a special pet food or treats reserved only for holidays.  They love it and so do we … a win-win for everyone! 

For a complete list of toxic and unhealthy foods to avoid feeding your pet contact the pet emergency hotline in your area. 

Plants & Flowers 

Fresh flowers and plants really add to the overall ambiance of the holiday season, but take into consideration which ones you bring into your home if you have pets.  

Certain plants are poisonous; both the leaves and petals such as poinsettias, holly (and the berries), ivy, mistletoe, hibiscus, cactus and lilies.  Also some pets are habitual chewers and even artificial plants are dangerous. 
Keep these things out of range from your four legged buddies. For a more detailed list click on this link 

Holiday Decorations 

Avoid using tinsel, beads, garland or ribbon if possible.  When they are in use, place them where the animals cannot reach these objects.  Something you never want to see is a cat with well, how can I put it … their hind quarters decorated with tinsel and garland.   

When we first took in rescues we didn’t know how some pets eat string, ribbon and shiny things.  A lot of pets never outgrow this fetish either.  One of the babies had devoured some and instead of swinging its lovely long tail, there was a strand of wrapping ribbon coming out of her behind!  Thank God we learned this lesson quickly. 

The Christmas Tree 

Another thing that so many pet owners have asked me is how to keep a cat out of the Christmas tree.  When you figure that one out, would you please tell me?   

Seriously, the best way to keep pets safe is to have your beautiful tree in an “off pet” area.  However, if you plan on having a tree and pets in the same room, there are a few things to consider. Something that does work is to safely secure your tree to the wall or window.   


Be sure that the ornaments are safe.  Instead of using hooks or glass ornaments, replace them with plastic ones that can be fastened on with the branches themselves.  By the way, paper ornaments are still in fashion! 


Never leave your tree unattended and hide all the cords!  Cats in particular love to chew on them.  (Note the photo ... that was from our Christmas tree!) 
As for the lights, my dog took it upon herself to destroy all our outside lights by crunching the bulbs. 
When we discovered this we changed our decorating habits and locations.  Be sure to always unplug the lights when you are away from the house to avoid fire or electrical problems, and clean up any debris from live trees daily. 

Most of all …  

“A righteous man regards the life of his/her animal(s)…”
(Proverbs 12:10 NKJV) 

Finally, remember changes of any kind can stress your pet(s).  Re-arranged furniture, decorations, loads of people or visiting pets all add to unrest in a household.  Be sure not to get so caught up in your preparations that you forget to spend time with your pet.   

Disclaimer: Always consult with your veterinarian for the best advice for your pet.  

List of Items Poisonous to Pets

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