Pet Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

The holiday season is here, and you’re probably excited about everything that this festive time of year has to offer. But even though you might be focused on being with the people you love, eating delicious food, and sharing gifts, it’s important to also consider the effects the holidays can have on your pets.

To help you enjoy a safe and happy holiday season with your furbabies, here’s a list of holiday safety tips for pets.


Holiday Pet Safety Tips

It’s easy to miss some of the following holiday hazards that could put your pet at risk of injury or illness, but once you know about them, you’ll be able to ensure everyone in your family, including your dogs and cats, can enjoy every day of the season.

Holiday Decorations

Whether you’re ready to decorate for the holidays right after Halloween or you wait until December, beware of the potential risk of some of the items you’ll use to spread cheer throughout your home. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you light candles to celebrate the holidays, keep them in areas that are out of reach of your pets. Or, better yet, switch to battery-powered candles that won’t risk burns or fires.

  • If you add holiday plants to your indoor space, beware that many of them are toxic to dogs and cats, and some are more dangerous than others. Do your research so you can select plants that are safe for your furry friends. For example, avoid plants like mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, poinsettia, and lily, to name a few.


  • When it comes to various holiday decorations around your home, consider if your pet will be able to knock them over, break them, chew on them, or ingest them. For example, snow globes can contain toxic ethylene glycol, so if you must have them in your home, keep them far out of reach of pets so there won’t be a risk of them breaking and causing a fatal poisoning.


  • Holiday lights can pose a risk to pets who see the wires as chew toys. Be strategic with placement so your pet won’t find it easy to access the electrical cords, and consider using products like the MyPet Safety Paws Ruff & Tuff Cord Protector for Dog & Cat to stop your furbaby from doing damage.   
  • A holiday tree can draw a lot of attention from curious pets. Your furbaby might try to climb it, knock it over, or chew on it, whether you prefer a real tree or a fake one. There are things you can do to deter pets from messing with your tree and make it as safe as possible. For example, anchor it in place so it won’t easily tip over, or use a barrier to keep pets at a distance. Don’t use tinsel or ornaments that can break easily or have parts that can be ingested, as these can pose a danger to pets. Also, if you have a real tree, don’t add anything to the water and use a barrier to prevent your pet from drinking it. Consider a gate like the Toddleroo by North States 3-In-1 Metal Superyard®, which you can set up in multiple ways, including circular, to suit your space and protect your tree.

Holiday Food

Some human foods are safe for cats and dogs, so if you want to let your furbaby share in the feast, stick to those treats that won’t be harmful in any way. But there are also plenty of foods that need to be kept away from pets.

Foods that are toxic to cats and dangerous for dogs should be kept out of their reach at all times – make sure your guests know about this rule, too. Not sure if a food is safe? When in doubt, don’t give it to your pet.

Examples of holiday foods that shouldn’t be fed to pets include meat fat, bones, skin, gravy, onions, grapes, raisins, desserts, chocolate, yeast dough, foods that contain xylitol, and alcoholic drinks.  

Consider buying species-appropriate treats so you can include your pets by giving them yummy foods that are perfectly safe.

Store leftovers away promptly rather than leaving them out for your pet to potentially find and dig into. And keep your pets away from the trash if they tend to try to get food out of it.

Holiday Stress

The hustle and bustle of the holidays isn’t only stressful for people, it can also make pets feel anxious. Here are some things you can do to help your pets get through this busy time of year:

  • Be aware of the risk of your pet running out the door, especially as you go in and out with groceries and gifts and as you let guests in. Stop your pet from rushing the door, and make sure they have an ID tag and/or are microchipped in case they get out.  

  • Throughout the season, you’ll find yourself busier than usual as you shop for gifts, set up decorations, host parties, and put together a holiday menu. Despite all of that, aim to maintain your pet’s routine as best as possible to keep them happy and calm.

  • If your pet feels uneasy around a lot of people or they don’t like being in a noisy environment, give them a room they can retreat to. Set it up with food, water, toys, a cozy place to sleep, and maybe some calming music to help them feel at ease while you enjoy the holiday with your family.

Holiday Gifts

This time of year is all about giving presents to the people you care about. When wrapping gifts and opening them, keep your pet’s safety in mind.

For example, if you think your pet will want to chew on ribbons, don’t use them. Or, if you’re giving a gift basket full of tasty foods that might be tempting to your pet, don’t put that present under the tree where your dog or cat could get to it. And kids’ toys might have small parts that are easy for pets to swallow, so keeping those out of reach is wise as well.

Celebrate the Joy of the Holidays with Your Pets

Bottom line: there’s no reason to leave your pets out of the fun of the holiday season, but take steps to ensure they’ll remain safe from hazards like harmful plants, foods, and decorations.  

Join the PetGuide community. Get the latest pet news and product recommendations by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

More by Lisa Selvaggio