10 Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

(by Emma Collins)

From Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, the Winter season brings plenty of holiday celebrations to nurture the bond of pets and their people. But nothing spoils these merry moments like an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic. 

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If you’re planning on including your furry companions in the festivities, it’s essential to know the dangers they may face.

Dr. Jeff is here to share which holiday treats, décor, and plants pose pet health hazards. He’s also here to offer expert holiday safety tips to ensure that everyone enjoys this festive season, including your four-legged family members. 

  • Choose the Food you Leave for your Pets 

  • There are food groups that are good for pets and those that are toxic to them. Explore the world of tasty yet safe treats this holiday season, across the internet.


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    If you’re unsure what to feed them, remember these four cardinal rules from the vet ditch the sweets, forget the leftovers, say no to cocktails, and go for chew toys. 

    One of the most common pet safety tips is to keep food sweetened with xylitol and chocolates away since these are poisonous for pets. Though most fur parents know this rule, it’s still worth repeating because it can save a pet during the holidays. 

    Besides that, keep them away from unattended food plates and dinner tables since they might munch on yummy food that might send them to the vet. Bones, spicy, and fatty food should also be kept away since they can also be toxic. 

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    If you’re celebrating the holidays over cocktails and drinks, make sure to keep your alcoholic beverages somewhere your pets couldn’t reach. Ingesting it might lead to weakness, coma, or even respiratory failure. 

    And when you’re choosing special treats for your dogs and cats, go for indestructible chew toys and Kongs that can also be stuffed with pet treats. Stay away from yarns, ribbons, and small items that can get stuck in their intestines

  • Make your Holiday Decors Pet-Safe

  • If you have a Christmas tree at home, keep the droppings and limbs of the tree away from your pets because they might chew on them. If they ingest these pine needles, the same could get lodged in their intestinal tracts, causing its lining to puncture or bunch together. 

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    Such a condition can obstruct the intestines. You should also be careful of your tree’s water base since this contains toxic chemicals for your pets. 

    As for tinsel and Christmas lights, make sure that the drapings and lights are away from the bottom of the tree where your pets can grab them. Also, don’t leave Christmas candles unattended since your pets can accidentally knock them down and hurt themselves. Plus, it can even start a fire. 

  • Set House Rules for your Guests

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    If you expect animal-friendly guests over the holiday, tell them in advance that you have a pet. Your dog may be welcoming, but a stranger’s presence can also threaten them. Your cat can also be stressed when they see someone they haven’t seen before. 

    So, you should manage your visitor’s expectations ahead and tell them to be gentle with your pet. You can also tell them that they can start petting or play sessions with your pet while you’re busy preparing for the celebration. 

  • Keep Medicine Away 

  • Anything your pets ingest can be hazardous for them, especially meds for humans. To keep them safe, lock your medications behind secure doors. If you have guests coming over, ask them to keep their meds packed and zipped up. 

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  • Give your Pets their Room

  • Your pets also need a quiet space to retreat to. So give them a room where they can snuggle alone. Make sure that it’s comfortable and complete with clean water. 

    Shy cats and pups usually hide inside their carrying case or under your furniture. Wherever they’d like to cozy up, make sure that it’s away from all the hubbub. 

  • Keep them Safe From New Year’s Noise

  • You might be throwing confetti or using noisy poppers as you celebrate the New Year. Take note that confetti can also get lodged in your cat’s intestine and would require surgery once ingested. 

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    Noisy poppers, on the other hand, can terrify your pups and damage their sensitive ears. If your pets are scared of fireworks, put them in a safe and escape-proof area before you go out there to celebrate. 

  • Choose the Most Comfortable and Safest Travel Method 

  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, make sure to choose the comfiest and safest travel method for your pets. Take note that air travel can be stressful and risky for your pet, so it’s essential to consider all the circumstances before making plans. 

    If you choose to fly, fly them in the cabin with you. If you wish to travel by ship or train, check your options with the cruise line or railroad companies ahead of time. 

  • Be Mindful of How your Pets React  

  • The excitement brought by the holiday rush may excite you, but this can also overwhelm your pets. So, be cognizant of how they react when you have visitors or when it starts to get noisy. 

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    As a precaution, choose to keep them indoors during cold weather and let them play with toys. This will keep them busy. 

    Again, if you have visitors coming over, let them know ahead that you have a pet at home. 

  • Create an Environment That Encourages Peace & Quiet 

  • While it’s perfectly normal for dogs to keep barking, it could be a nuisance or a sign of a dog behavioral problem if it’s excessive.

    It could also stress them more than they already are. To effectively carry this out, you need to identify and remove the barking triggers of your pet. 

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    Say, for instance, they’re afraid of fireworks, and they express their fear through barking excessively, keep them away from firecrackers and leave them in a soundproof and comfy pet-friendly room. 

    If they bark excessively because of people they meet for the first time, ask your guests to text or call you ahead of time before they arrive at your place. Use this time to move your dog somewhere safe and free from their stressors.  

  • Know What to do in Case of a Pet Emergency 

  • Even if you plan thoroughly, accidents can happen anytime. It’s best to know how to respond in case of a pet emergency. You need to know the closest veterinarian clinic that’s open 24/7 and accepts emergency cases. 


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    Get the vet or pet clinic’s number and contact them right away if you need help with your pets. They rely on you, and this means you must ensure their safety and well-being. Take note of these tips, as these will help you get through the holidays unscathed. 

    Visit Dr. Jeff Werber’s Instagram account (@werbs_dvm) to view and submit questions and answers on weekly AMAs – or call and leave a voicemail at 424-835-0576. Your call will be returned posthaste. For emergencies, download Dr. Jeff Werber’s app Airvet, a video-chat option for veterinary needs at any time of day or night!