Veterinarian - San Diego
1540 Morena Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110



By Heather Beeson of Morena Pet Hospital
December 13, 2012
Category: Pet Safety
Tags: Untagged


Holiday Pet Safety Tips

The holiday season is often a magical time of year for sharing good cheer with family and friends, but it can also be a dangerous time for your pet.  Before we become overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of shopping and slaving over that scrumptious holiday feast, take a moment to give some thought to your beloved pet companions.  Here are some holiday pet-safety tips to keep both you and your pets happy and healthy this season.

Do You Hear What I Hear.  Along with cheer, the holidays can bring about many dangers for pets.  The sight of twinkling lights, shiny ornaments, and glowing candles can all be considered a hazardous playground for pets.  The ASPCA recommends decorating with safety in mind.

O Christmas Tree.  For those buying a live Christmas tree this year, it’s a good idea to keep the area clear of any fallen pine needles.  While they may not seem dangerous, the needles can be sharp enough to cause injury to your pet.  Try to anchor your tree if possible, so it doesn’t tip over causing harm to your pet.  Stagnant tree water may become a breeding ground for bacteria--leading to nausea or diarrhea if ingested.  Try covering your Christmas tree stand and keep it off limits to pets by folding a tree skirt over the stand, or you can get creative with some plastic cut-outs or duct-tape.  Refrain from using edible ornaments (cranberry or popcorn strands) to decorate your tree as pets may knock it over in an attempt to reach them. 

Deck the Halls (Safely!). Some attractive items that can cause your pet harm are: Electrical cords, Tinsel, Ribbon, Candles, Artificial Snow, and Holiday Plants (Poinsettias, Mistletoe, and Holly Berry Plants can all be toxic to your pet if consumed!).

Since many pets are curious when there are new house decorations displayed, try to keep these items our of your pet’s reach.  Place ornaments (try to avoid glass ornaments altogether) and garland higher up on the tree, tie back or tape down electrical cords so animals are less likely to nibble, and keep open flames inaccessible to your pets. 

Winter Wonderland. The holidays also tend to bring about a variety of foods that can be unhealthy and potentially toxic to pets.  It is important to know the effects human foods can have on your pet's health.  Certain human foods overly rich in fats may result in gastrointestinal irritation or in severe cases, pancreatitis.  Poultry bones tend to splinter easily, posing a serious threat of internal injury and obstruction.  Many herbs and seasonings contain essential oils and resins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Other foods such as chocolate, anything sweetened with xylitol, onions, avocado (birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning), grapes, and raisins are all TOXIC to pets.

If those begging eyes are starting to tempt you to treat your pet, consider giving them a feast of their own with veterinary approved pet treats or a favorite toy!  We would be happy to recommend a healthy alternative.

Toy Land. When gift wrapping, please be sure to keep your pet out of the room.  Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth could all cause harm to your pet. 

Instead of entertaining kitty with sparkling ribbon and string, surprise him/her with a new ball (that’s too big to swallow), a catnip toy, or an interactive feather dancer.  For other ideas, please refer to our article: How to Make an Indoor Cat’s Environment More Entertaining!.

Dogs have also been known to tear their toys apart, swallowing the pieces.  We recommend always supervising playtime and to try to choose chew toys that are more durable or a Kong toy filled with healthy foods/treats.  

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. If your festivities include “spiked” eggnog, other adult beverages, or “medicinal” marijuana, be sure to place them out of your pets’ reach.  This is no laughing matter.  Alcohol and drugs are potentially hazardous to pets and if ingested, your pet could become weak, ill, disoriented, and could possibly go into respiratory distress.

Away in A Manger. If you are having a holiday gathering at your house, consider making up a safe and comfortable place for your pet to escape the noise—provide fresh water and a comfy, secure bed for them to snuggle up in.  If you are having guests over, make sure they know to keep your pets inside and to keep all windows, doors, and gates closed. 

We Traverse Afar.  Whether you are traveling with your pet, leaving them at a boarding facility, or having a pet-sitter check in on them, it is recommended that you have all of your pets micro-chipped (and registered!) and that they are wearing proper identification with updated contact information.  Consider purchasing and setting up the TAGG Pet Tracker, a new product on the market that uses GPS technology to locate your pets.

Taking these simple precautions will go a long way to ensure your holiday is a joyful occasion to remember!

As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous from the picnic table, please contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435.

For additional pet safety tips please visit the following San Diego Humane Society and ASPCA links: