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December 2, 2022

Holiday Pet Safety Tips

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It’s a magical time of the year for people, the visits from friends and family, holiday decorating, an overabundance of delicious sweets, and the general hustle and bustle that gets everyone in the spirit. But while preparing for all the merriment of the season, let’s not forget our four-legged family members and take these helpful precautions to keep their holidays safe from harm.


The holidays are a popular time for welcoming a new furry friend into your family. There may not be a more fantastic gift for homeless animals than to open your heart and home to them. As they do year-round, animal shelters have thousands of wonderful companions available for adoption.

Bringing a new pet home during the holidays is generally not a good idea.  Holidays are times of increased activity, extra people, decorations, parties, gifts, and excess food.  With everything happening during a holiday, pets can become lost in the everyday chaos and become frightened at a time when they are already on edge about coming to a new home.

But whether you are considering a new friend for you or someone else, remember that choosing an animal is a big decision. So instead of bringing home an animal right away, consider putting together and wrapping an “adoption kit.” Fill a box with toys, a bed, a leash, a collar, food, treats, and a gift certificate for adoption fees at your local shelter. Then, make an event of visiting the shelter to find your next best friend!

Remember, millions of homeless animals wait for a home each year! So give the gift of life this year and choose to adopt!


  • Christmas Tree: Securely anchor your tree, so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. Anchoring the tree will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea.
  • Avoid Mistletoe & Holly: Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And a wide variety of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Instead, opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
  • Tinsel: Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, leading to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery. So it’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
  • That Holiday Glow: Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!
  • Wires: Keep wires, batteries, and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock, and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. At the same time, shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.


  • Skip the Sweets: By now, you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising pet will go to chomp on something yummy? So make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.
  • Leave the Leftovers: Fatty, spicy, and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Instead, pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won’t lead to costly medical bills.
  • Careful with Cocktails: If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak and ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

If you suspect something may be poisonous, you can contact ASPCA Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 or Pet Poison Hotline at (855) 764-7661.


  • Carefully consider taking your pet with you on a trip (air travel can be dangerous).
  • If you leave your pets at home while you travel, choose a pet sitter or boarding kennel wisely.
  • Wherever your pets spend the holidays, dogs and cats should all wear collars and tags with ID that offer a way to reach you.


  • Identify your closest 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before an emergency occurs.
  • Write down or store in your phone the number for your veterinarian or pet hospital.
  • Research and write down your pet’s hospital or clinic’s holiday hours.
  • Write down or store in your phone the number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435. Note that a consultation fee may apply.


  • House Rules: If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.
  • A Room of Their Own: Give your pet a quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case, or in a separate room away from the hubbub.
  • New Year’s Noise: As you count down to the new year, please remember that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.
  • Proper Identification: Make sure your pet is wearing proper ID tags (with current information) and has been microchipped in the event he/she dashes out the door and becomes lost.

Remember to keep a watchful eye on your pets, especially during this busy time, and have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

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