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10 Christmas Safety Tips for Dogs and Cats Every Pet Parent Should Know

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Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 12/09/2020, edited: 01/04/2023

Overview

From the delicious aroma of baked goods and turkey cooking in the oven to the sight of beautifully wrapped Christmas presents waiting under the tree, the holidays bring us together to celebrate life and love with those we hold most dear. And for those of us with four-pawed best "furiends", the season wouldn’t be complete without a dog or cat by our side.

Our furry pals can enjoy many traditions of the holidays with us, but there are hidden dangers within this joyous time. Decorations and treats that seem harmless to us could pose a threat to a playful and curious kitten or pup. With a few considerations in mind, your pet’s holiday can be safe and fun, and memorable for years to come.


Secure the Christmas tree

Be sure to keep curious pets from tipping over the tree by securing it with fishing line tied to the wall, ceiling, or doorframe. Block access to the tree water, which could contain harmful bacteria, pesticides, or fertilizer, with aluminum foil and a tree skirt.

Related: 10 Smart Ways to Keep Your Dog from Destroying Your Christmas Tree


Safely trim the tree

Avoid decorations that can be harmful if eaten, such as tinsel, garlands, or edible or glass ornaments. Prevent burns or shock by keeping Christmas lights out of reach and off of the lower tree branches.

Related: The Ultimutt Guide to Pet-safe Christmas Decorations


Choose holiday plants wisely

Holly and mistletoe can be toxic to curious pets who feel like nibbling, as can lilies, amaryllis, and poinsettias. Choose safer plants and floral arrangements such as Boston ferns or spider plants instead, or decorate with artificial plants that can be used year after year!

black and white doberman dog wearing a christmas bandana standing next to a plush christmas tree

Decorate the house with your pets in mind

To prevent burns or a fire, keep candles out of reach and blow them out when you leave the room, or opt for flameless LED candles. Prevent your dog from chewing any fire starter logs, as they contain paraffin and sawdust, which could cause intestinal obstructions. 


Be mindful of wrapping paper and presents

Once the presents start being opened, be sure to keep cords, strings, ribbons, and Styrofoam packing materials out of reach of pets as they can cause an obstruction if eaten. Have a garbage bag ready to throw away wrapping paper as soon as it's discarded to keep it out of your furry pal’s mouth.


Keep human treats out of reach

Christmas baked goods and meals are what we dream about all year, but they are often made with ingredients that can be poisonous to our pets, such as onions, garlic, chocolate, xylitol, or raisins. Keep foods and candy dishes out of reach, and consider making treats just for your dog or cat! 

For an in-depth look at which Christmas foods are safe for dogs and which ones you should avoid, check out our guide to Christmas food for dogs.


Secure the trash

From ribbons, strings, and broken ornaments to packing materials and food, the trash is a catch-all that can smell quite attractive to a hungry or bored dog or cat. Prevent them from eating anything they shouldn’t by keeping the trash out of reach or secured in a lidded trash can.

golden retriever dog standing in the snow in front of pine trees

Keep your pet engaged

It’s easy to get caught up in this busy time, but don’t forget to keep your pet’s routine the same as much as you can to prevent accidents or stress-related problems. Walks and mealtimes should continue as usual, as well as cuddles and playtime to keep your pet feeling safe and loved. 

Related: 7 Fun Christmas Activities Your Kids and Fido Will Love


Leave the house secured

Before leaving your pets alone, be sure to unplug decorations, take out the trash, and put away any candy and snacks. Leave out toys or pet snacks to keep them busy and away from mischief!


Know how to read your pet's body language

Christmas often means lot of noise and activity, which could stress out your fur-babies. Know the signs of discomfort and anxiety in dogs (and cats!) so you can keep your fur-family comfortable all winter long. If your cat or dog shows any of the following signs, they may be feeling the holiday stress:

  • Hiding
  • Whimpering (dogs)
  • Yowling (cats)
  • Excessive barking
  • Excessive licking or grooming
  • Tail tucking (dogs)
  • Raised hackles
  • Bushy tail (cats)
  • Hissing or growling

If you think your pet is overwhelmed, give them a safe place to chill out and decompress, whether it's a crate, secluded area, or separate room of the home.

Related: How to Read Your Cat's Body Language



The holidays are a prime time for accidents and illnesses to strike. Use our pet insurance comparison tool to keep your pet protected from Christmas dangers.



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