Holiday Helpers - Be Mindful of Seasonal Hazards


In the magic and chaos of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget important safety precautions for our animals. Here is the bark on things to keep in mind to prevent festivities from taking a tragic turn. 

The Tree

Whether live or artificial, for pets, the tree can be one huge toy rack. Low hanging baubles, glittery strings and shiny lights captivate can be irresistible. Place only unbreakable, non-toxic decorations on lower limbs. Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, so be extra mindful of loose ribbons. Experts suggest avoiding tinsel or angel hair of any sort altogether. Tinsel, made from metal, and angel hair, made from glass, can cause life-threatening digestive obstructions and serious internal damage.

To prevent the pooch from having too good a time rocking around the Christmas tree or the cat climbing it, tether it to the ceiling or wall. Use a sturdy metal base and block access (baby gates work well). It may seem like a step up from toilet water, but the tree’s water may contain toxic fertilizers and/or bacteria. Wrap the base with screens, foil or a tree skirt.


Tape down or cover cords and unplug all decorations when you’re away. Before plugging in, inspect cords and wires for damage that could pose a fire hazard. Birds, cats and dogs like to nibble and chew. Many holiday plants are toxic, including holly, mistletoe and some poinsettias. Give thought to holiday greenery and keep all out of your pet’s reach.

Candles call for extreme care. Cats wandering too closely, birds lured by the flame, happy, swinging dogs’ tails — all spell potential disaster. Use hurricane lanterns or other attractive covers and never leave candles unattended with pets.


A dog’s nose knows food, even when wrapped. A gift of chocolate under the tree is a perfect opportunity for the dog to “open before Xmas.” Holiday treats, especially chocolate, should be kept out of reach.

Our animal friends can’t discriminate whether something is good or bad for them. As tempting as it is, avoid sharing food scraps or more than tiny amounts of new food. Sudden dietary changes can cause reactions from mild to catastrophic. As much as possible, maintain your pet’s normal eating and exercise routines.

Discourage well-intentioned guests from feeding inappropriate foods to your pets. Fatty foods like poultry skins and beef fat can cause pancreatitis, which can kill. Bones can splinter, break, and cause severe injury.


With all the hubbub and arrivals and departures, conditions are ideal for an accidental escape. Make sure you know where your pets are at all times. The best plan is to keep them secure in a quiet area of the house where they will stay safe and calm.

A woof about New Year’s

Noisy firecrackers terrify and even severely traumatize some pets. Leave pets securely inside if you go out. And while fun, strings of confetti can get lodged in little intestines and cause blockage.

Just like humans, pets can get stressed by holiday happenings, especially if you yourself are frazzled. Give them as much as or more attention than usual so they don’t feel neglected and act out. Why not plan some special time with your babies to treat yourself and them during this hectic time? An extra trip to the dog park or game of tug can do wonders for you both.