Top Holiday Pet Safety Tips: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Holiday pet safety tips

Holidays are usually a joyous time for humans, but can be stressful for pets. It’s wise to be mindful of activities, noises, and general holiday hoopla when it comes to keeping your pet safe and sound during busier times.

We’ve put together a list of holiday pet safety tips for you to consider, particularly if you have a kitten, puppy, newly adopted animal, or pet that tends to be nervous around crowds or noises.

We want you and your pets to enjoy the holidays, so it is wise to keep these ideas in mind when planning for upcoming festivities.

Holiday Pet Safety Tips for Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Eve

8 Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

This particular holiday, probably more than any other, is when families gather to give thanks and eat large quantities of food. The mix of crowds and the abundance of edibles can be detrimental to your feline and canine family members. Here are a few Thanksgiving pet safety tips that can help make the holiday a bit easier for you and your pet.

Thanksgiving Food Pet Safety

What’s good for humans may not be healthy for your dog. This is especially true with popular food items during the holidays.

1. Keep your pet away from anything sweet: This includes chocolate—which is toxic to both cats and dogs. Rich desserts and artificial sweeteners are also a no-go.

2. Leave the bread in the basket: Yeast-based breads are notorious for causing gas and bloating. Wrap up the leftovers for breakfast or use in a tasty bread pudding…just be sure to keep it away from Fido!

3. Beware of Pancreatitis: Turkey, particularly the skin and the gravy that goes with it, is high in fat and can cause pancreatitis. Vet visits rise around this time of year! Other triggers for this ailment include mashed potatoes and vegetables that are rich in butter.

4. Don’t leave food within reach of animals: Make sure all food waste is off of counters and all waste is disposed of properly. The strong smells of holidays foods are an incentive for your pet to break all the rules and jump on countertops or access tabletops!

Holiday Gatherings

The other issue that may provide challenges is the influx of guests in your home for the holidays. Large crowds and loud noises can be overwhelming for some pets, making them anxious and causing behavior that is out of the norm, such as whining, barking, vomiting, or inside accidents.

5. If you’re hosting babies or young children who don’t know how to behave around cats or dogs, it’s better to keep your pet in a separate area or in their kennel where they feel safe. Youngsters may be too loud, too rough, pull on tails, or tease your pet, causing them to snap, bite, bark, or otherwise scare/injure the little one.

6. If you have a dog who is used to roughhousing with you or your own children, likes aggressive play, or is overly rambunctious, it’s also wise to keep them separated. This will help protect small children, elderly or frail adults from tripping or other injuries. Nothing like a broken hip to ruin your Thanksgiving!

7. Skittish pets should also be kept in a separate area. If the noises are still too much for them, consider turning on soothing music or white noise to help mitigate the sound.

8. You’ll also want to be sure that doors and windows are kept closed, so animals cannot escape out or make their way in our out unintentionally.

12 Christmas Pet Safety Tips

Many of these holiday pet safety tips that apply at Thanksgiving are appropriate during the Christmas holiday season! There are additional elements to consider when it comes to Christmas pet safety.

Christmas Trees/Plants & Pets

1. As beautiful as Christmas trees are, they’re also an accident waiting to happen when it comes to pets. Exuberant dogs and climbing cats can knock over a tree, causing injury to your pet and damage to your home. Try to make your tree as stable as possible, even using transparent fishing line to secure it to a wall or ceiling. You can also place foil around the base of the tree, as cats notoriously hate the feel of foil on their paws.

2. You might be wondering, “Are Christmas trees poisonous to dogs?” Fir trees are mildly toxic to animals and can cause gastrointestinal distress. Be sure to sweep up fallen pine needles regularly and keep the plant watered to avoid shedding (using plain water only with no additives). Artificial trees have a similar hazard, in that the needles look real and edible, but the plastic material can be harmful if ingested.

3. Mistletoe and Holly are two holiday plants that are extremely poisonous to pets. Though mistletoe is traditionally hung high, leaves can fall off as it dries out which can be consumed by curious pets. Consider plastic or felted mistletoe to be safe. Keep Holly outdoors and up on ledges where it’s inaccessible to pets.

4. Poinsettias, the traditional holiday flower, are only mildly poisonous to both cats and dogs. It’s best to keep them outdoors, where they thrive anyway. Watch for signs of chewed flowers or leaves.

5. You can also protect your Christmas tree by surrounding it with presents that are stacked around the exposed edge. This can help keep pets from going under or knocking it when passing by.

Tree Décor & Pets

6. All tree décor should be placed higher than normal to stay out of harm’s way.

7. While those glass heirloom ornaments look great on your tree, they can easily be knocked off and broken. This presents a danger to you and the paw pads of cats and dogs. If you must adorn your tree with these, try to place them on the upper half of the tree…just make sure there is a balance so the tree does not topple over.

8. Tinsel is another toxic item to your pet. The shiny appearance makes it appealing to play with and eat, but it can cause intestinal blockage. It’s best to avoid tinsel altogether. Similarly, edible tree decorations like strings of cranberries or popcorn, should be avoided.

9. Christmas lights can pose a slight hazard, although only if chewed or a bulb breaks. Try to keep them on the upper two-thirds of the tree and check regularly for broken bulbs. Unplug the tree when you aren’t home to supervise your pets.


10. Beware of small toys or parts of toys, slippers, or other enticing items that can be chewed or swallowed by your pet once opened. Regularly survey the room for rogue Legos or unattended batteries.

11. Pets often like to play with ribbon after a present is open, and we’ll admit it’s fun to watch them do so. Just be vigilant when they’re done playing; they’ll often start chewing on and ingesting the ribbon, which can be problematic to their GI tract.

12. Don’t forget your pet this holiday season when it comes to gifts! Treating them to something special while you unwrap your own gift can keep them occupied and away from the fray of flying wrapping paper and hyped-up kids.

3 New Year’s Pet Safety Tips

New Year’s is another holiday that doesn’t tend to agree with most pets. Between the partying, masses of people, and the loud noises that come with it all, pets can be particularly peckish. Here are some holiday pet safety tips that are wise to follow to keep your pet safe and sane.

  1. Alcohol is a no-no for cats and dogs. Don’t let them lap up that spilled martini or wine. Even small amounts can adversely affect them. Clean up any spills immediately and make sure unattended drinks are not left on the floor or where a pet can access them.
  2. Fireworks and sirens tend to be a trigger for many animals, especially if they’re skittish. Make sure your pet is secured in a place they feel safe. Music or white noise can help to block out scary sounds.
  3. See “Holiday Gatherings” under Thanksgiving Pet Tips for dealing with the influx of revelers.

Other Holiday Considerations for Pet Safety

Holiday Travel & Pets

If you plan on traveling with your pet over the holidays there are a few things to consider. Whether you are driving, flying, or traveling by train, make sure your pet’s vaccines are up to date. You’ll also want to secure sedatives if necessary and have proper identification for your pet. It’s also a wise idea to draft a packing list ahead of time. We’ve got a whole guide on How to Travel with a Dog. Make sure you read this before hitting the road with your canine!

Boarding a Pet During the Holidays

Holidays tend to be very busy for pet sitters, pet hotels, and all boarding facilities. It’s wise to try and book accommodations for your pet well in advance. If keeping your pet at home is your best option while vacationing, we have an expert guide on How to Find a Pet Sitter. This guide provides recommendations and tips on interviewing someone to take care of your precious family member.

Emergency Pet Clinics

Even your vet likes to have a few days off over the holidays. Should the need for a vet arise, it is likely you will have to use an emergency pet clinic. Make sure that you know where the closest one is to your home. If you are on the road, it’s also wise to find one at your destination so you aren’t scrambling during a pet emergency.

One final note: Given the abundance of food, wrappings, presents, and people coming and going, there is the possibility that something gets left out that is poisonous to your pet. Should you suspect or know that this has happened, keep the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline number available for just such an emergency: 1-888-426-4435 (a fee may apply).

Happy holidays from all of us at CCSPCA. We hope these holiday pet safety tips will help you during this holiday season. If you have friends or family with pets as well make sure to share this article with them!