5 Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe This Christmas

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on December 21, 2016. Enjoy!

With the holidays firmly upon us, winter offers the ideal opportunity to spend some quality time with our pets. But with so much food around — not to mention choking hazards, like ribbon — how can we keep our pets safe amidst the festivities?

Here are five potential dangers to watch out for that will help you ensure a joyful holiday for everyone — pets included.

1. Keep chocolate out of paw’s reach

From cookie exchanges to advent calendars filled with sweet treats, there’s a lot of chocolate on hand at this time of year. While that might be great news for the human chocoholics in your household, it’s not beneficial for your canine companions. Chocolate can be highly poisonous for some breeds of dog because their bodies cannot tolerate a substance known as theobromine.

Here’s a bit more on why chocolate and dogs do not mix:

Here’s what you can do to help prevent your pooch needing emergency treatment:

  • Keep all cakes, biscuits and treats on counters out of reach
  • Ensure that guests know they are not to feed your furry pals, no matter how much your pup might pout
  • Try to keep your dog well fed throughout the holidays, particularly whenever you’re sitting down to a large meal. This will help lessen any temptation your four-legged friend might feel to explore human food.

A warning about chocolate and cats: While most cats can tolerate chocolate better than dogs — they are unlikely to die from eating it — it’s still best to avoid letting them get a hold of the sweet treat. Luckily, most cats aren’t particularly intrigued by the scent of chocolate, but chocolate in desserts like warm puddings might prove more of a draw, so remain aware.

And if you, like many people, like to keep snacks on hand during the festive season, make sure to keep lids on any tins of fruit or nuts. These foods can present health risk for pets, so keep them out of reach of your pet pals.

2. Deck the halls with boughs of holly — but carefully!

Holly and mistletoe may look lovely as home decorations, but the plants are mildly toxic when consumed. Again, it’s unlikely that a curious pet will feel too many negative side effects, but it’s a good idea to keep that foliage under control. Remember to pick up fallen leaves and ensure that any mistletoe sprigs are out of reach.

While we’re on the subject of plants: poinsettias are popular gifts at this time of year — and worthy of a mention. While their vibrant color undoubtedly evokes a sense of Christmas cheer, they are toxic to cats. If you have a feline family member, don’t bring poinsettias into the house.

3. Batteries not included

If your spouse or children love gadgets, chances are there will be some sort of batteries rolling around on Christmas day. While it may seem obvious to humans that batteries should not meet mouths, they can look quite inviting to pets. Needless to say, batteries are highly toxic, and should a dog or a cat chew or swallow one, there could be some serious health risks.

Keeping track of batteries — whether new or old — is therefore imperative to ensure that your pets have a pleasant holiday season. Consider putting old batteries in an envelope and keeping them safely in a drawer until they can be disposed of. Similarly, new batteries should also be kept in a drawer and only removed when necessary.

4. Choose your decorations wisely.

Enjoy decorating your home this year, but spare a thought for your furry friends. Cats are particularly curious about anything that sparkles, glitters or gleams, and with tinsel and ribbon aplenty, these holiday bits can be very tempting.

The problem is, if chewing leads to swallowing, tinsel can quickly cause obstructions and lead to life-threatening health problems. In general, paper decorations are a safer option, while large plastic items mean you avoid the inevitable smash, crash and shards of glass  when your kitty knocks down the Christmas tree.

5. Ensure your pets get quality time this festive season, too.

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but amid the hustle and bustle, spare a thought for your pets.

If you’re entertaining family and friends, it probably means a lot of unfamiliar guests in your pets’ space. There may be lots of loud noises and strange smells. If you are visiting someone else’s house, this can mean extended periods of alone time for your pet — something that not every animal is comfortable with.

For your pets’ mental health this festive season, make sure to take the time to offer them quality snuggles and lots of opportunities to play. Consider giving them a room in the house where they can escape and remain undisturbed — for example, a quiet bedroom or office. This can ensure that if things become a bit too stressful, they can take a breather — something that even we humans need from time to time when holiday festivities are in full swing.

If you’d like more tips on decoration safety for both pets and wildlife, check out Care2′s handy guide to help you prepare. Happy holidays!

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


michela c
michela c11 days ago


Carole R
Carole R23 days ago

Good advice.

hELEN h23 days ago


Renata B
Renata B23 days ago

In September 2018 this article is either very late or a bit too early. Since I watched a video the other day of a rescued baby beaver - temporary kept in a house - and saw the type of damages he has made (chewing) I have understood something about our dog's ancestry. So yes, everything needs to be kept above the line of his reach. Fortunately he has short legs. :-)

Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Past Member
Past Member 8 months ago

I don't celebrate

Peggy B
Peggy B9 months ago


Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara9 months ago

A dog with a very dense coat may not realise his back is getting singed.

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara9 months ago

Watch out for pets and candles. You don't want a house fire or singed whiskers.