Your pet deserves a safe and happy holiday along with the rest of your family.  While you are “decking the halls”, be sure to use extra caution to avoid seasonal hazards your pet may face during this bustling time of year. According to, more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning occurs each year and many of these incidences are from household substances. We understand most of these things happen year-round, but with all the chaos, it’s easy for your pet to be put in harm’s way without you even knowing.  Protect your furry family members with these holiday pet safety guidelines.

Dangerous Decorations

Traditional holiday greenery is enjoyed by many decorating for the season. Although we enjoy the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree and anticipate ringing in the New Year under a bunch of mistletoe, the foliage we love puts our pets at risk. Christmas trees are not poisonous, but, we often use fertilizers to water the tree. Be sure to cover your tree’s water container and secure the tree to prevent spilling of water or consumption by your pet. Even if you do not use a fertilizer, water left sitting for weeks will breed bacteria that are harmful to your pet’s digestive system and will result in nausea and diarrhea.

Two other foliage favorites, holly and mistletoe, are harmful if ingested. Holly can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Mistletoe will cause gastrointestinal as well and cardiovascular complications. Other common household plants can be dangerous too. Even though you may know the plants in your own home are safe, be sure to check with your host if your pet is visiting other homes with you. Many types of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. A simple aloe vera plant is toxic to both cats and dogs. Ingesting it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, tremors and anorexia. Animal Poison Control has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats, dogs and horses to reference if you are unsure about a plant’s toxicity.

Give Them Some Space

Holiday gatherings are typically bustling and hectic celebrations. Although enjoyable for us, a pet that typically lives in a quiet environment may become traumatized during this chaotic time.  To help your pet cope with the loud and busy environment, ensure they have a quiet place to relax, even when they are away from home.  Provide them with a corner in a bedroom, complete with comfy blankets and water. Additionally, try to keep them on their routine as much as possible. Feeding times, bathroom breaks and exercise schedules will give them a sense of normality and help them manage all of the changes.

Travel Safely

When we travel, we take precautions to protect ourselves.  Similarly, we should do the keep our pets’ safety in mind during travel as well. Do not allow your pet to hang out a window, sit on your lap or ride in the back of a truck during travel. Put your pet in a crate that is sized appropriately, and be sure the crate is buckled in securely.  Likewise, pet safe seat belts can be used to secure your pet in the event of an unexpected vehicle crash.

Before departing, be sure your pet is wearing a well-fitted collar and that it includes all your current contact information. Even better, make sure your pet has a microchip implanted and that the registration information is up-to-date. It will ensure that your pet can always be identified, even if they slip out of their collar. Call your veterinarian if you are unsure of how to register or check the information linked to the chip.  Registration is free through websites like If you and your pet are traveling by car, potty breaks are inevitable and the new surroundings may make your pet act out of character.  They should always be leashed, even if you have a dog that does not run from you.

Food is the Best Part…Not for Your Pet

Typically, our celebrations include an abundance of delicious food and maybe what we look forward to the most. The rich foods we love, though, are not healthy for our furry friends. Remind guests they are not allowed to feed your pets, regardless of the amount the beg. Sweets, especially chocolate, are harmful to your pets. Chocolate can cause a number of problems and may cause your pet to stay for many days in a hospital. Spicy food, fatty meats, and even bones will be damaging to their digestive system and may cause a choking hazard. The high fat in turkey skin can lead to pancreatitis in dogs, which can be deadly. Yeast in most bread and rolls can lead to uncomfortable gas and even bloating. Watch for unattended plates of food and garbage containers.  Your pet may be determined to snatch a yummy morsel or dig in the trash until they find a buried treasure.

Our favorite beverages can also cause a problem for our pets. Don’t allow guests to leave alcoholic beverages unattended. Ingesting alcohol can cause worse signs than drowsiness. Coma may result and your pet may go into respiratory failure.

Your pets deserve the best veterinary care possible