24 Ways to Keep Pets Safe Throughout the Holiday Season

The holiday season is filled with so much joy and wonder, it’s easy to forget that it could spell disaster for pets. Danger lurks everywhere for our furry friends, from holiday food to Christmas trees.  We’ve compiled this list of warnings and tips to help prevent a holiday disaster at your house.

How to Keep Pets Safe Throughout the Holiday Season

1. Plants such as mistletoe, ivy, lilies and holly berries can be poisonous to pets:

  • Holly is potentially fatal.
  • Mistletoe upsets the stomach & can cause heart collapse.
  • Sap from Poinsettias can cause mouth blistering.
  • Hibiscus can trigger diarrhea.

2. Supervise all candles – pets are attracted to light in a dark room.

3. Crowds of people and holiday festivities can frighten animals. Consider the animals and keep pets in another room if they are nervous around strangers or crowds.

4. Dispose of all bows, yarn and curling ribbons to prevent swallowing and intestinal blockage, or strangulation. Labradors and Beagles are especially well known for eating inappropriate objects. Cats may eat them while playing.

5. Exposed wiring can electrocute a curious animal who chews on it. Use Bitter apple to deter chewing, or encase cords and electrical plugs inside PVC tubing.

6. Rearrangement of furniture around the house for the holidays may cause your feline to stop using the litter box.

7. Pets are not garbage disposals for holiday left-overs. Any sudden change of diet, even for just one meal, can give your dog or cat stomach pain and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals, whose digestive systems are often more delicate and nutritional requirements more strict.

8. While a little turkey or chicken won’t harm your pet, be very careful of cooked bones which can splinter and cause intestinal blockage or internal lacerations. Pork bones can also wreak havoc. The FDA recently advised that all bones, cooked or raw, be avoided.

9. Large quantities of chocolate can be highly toxic to dogs, especially dark chocolate.

10. Beware of simmering potpourri or potpourri oil. Most potpourri liquids contain natural or essential oils, which if ingested can cause vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea, weakness, and possibly liver damage. Some products also contain cationic detergents, in which case the symptoms tend to be much worse. In most cases received by the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center, cats are often exposed to potpourri oils by rubbing against leaky bottles or pots containing the oil, or from spilling the oil-containing pots over themselves.

11. Aluminum foil that has been wrapped around meat and disposable baking pans might be attractive to a pet, but do not let your companion near it. Ingestion of aluminum foil may cause vomiting, intestinal blockage or even more serious problems.

12. Bull Terriers have an odd habit of going under the Christmas tree to enjoy the branches on their back, but then go into a trance that may be a partial seizure.

13. Resist the temptation to tie holiday ribbons around your pet’s neck. The ribbon can twist and tighten, causing choking or strangulation. Pets can hang themselves if the ribbon gets caught on an object.

14. Pets LOVE to open presents and you don’t always know what’s in there that could harm them. Lock the presents or the pets up when you are not home to supervise.

15. Batteries contain a highly corrosive acid that can burn a pet’s mouth if it leaks, or if the casing is broken by chewing. Keep them stored safely away.

16. Metal ornament hooks can get caught in curious mouths. Use ribbon or yarn instead of hooks to hang Christmas ornaments.

17. Cranberry and popcorn strands can be deadly to pets. They can cause an intestinal obstruction or get wrapped around your pet’s neck.

18. Tinsel can cause intestinal obstruction and blockage if swallowed.

19. Glass balls can shatter in an animal’s mouth. Broken pieces can cut and be deadly if ingested.

20. Angel hair is spun glass, and will shred the intestines if swallowed.

21. Artificial snow or flocking can be ingested or inhaled and caught in the nasal passages.

22. Do not use moth balls to deter your cat from climbing the Christmas tree, digging in your holiday plants or scaling garlands. They are highly toxic, and if even a little is ingested it could have serious consequences.

23. A bowl of fresh lemon peels at the base of the Christmas tree can deter curious kitties, plus add a nice scent to your festivities.

24. A Christmas tree should stand in a flat, wide base. You might also want to anchor the tree with fishing line tied to drapery rods, a ceiling or wall hook. Cats often see trees as fabulous climbing posts. If your kitty shows a penchant for this activity, decorate with animal-safe items such as dried flowers, pine cones or fabric and wood ornaments. You also might want to consider putting the tree in a room with doors that close.



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Kris Cummerata

Loved your take on this topic, very unique and thought-provoking.


It’s enough to make you want to cancel Christmas! My poor babies! We’ll make it work!


For those buying a live Christmas trees this year, keep the area free and clear of pine needles. While they may not seem dangerous, the needles can puncture your pet s intestines if ingested.


I’m surprised to read tips I didn’t hear about before, thanks!