Safely Celebrating the Holidays with Your Pets 

| December 22, 2023

The holiday season is here! While we plan family gatherings, prepare feasts, and decorate our homes, we can’t forget about our pets. There are many ways we can celebrate the holiday season with our pets – but including them in traditional festivities may not be in their best interest. 

Decorations, festive food, and seasonal plants can all potentially be dangerous for your pets. Here are six pet safety tips, and ideas on how you can include your pet in the festivities, so that everyone can enjoy the holiday season.  

1. Keep Decorations out of Reach

All the sparkly and flashy decorations hanging around the house could be appealing to some pets – especially puppies or kittens. They could choke on, or consume, these objects. Tinsel can be especially harmful to your pet. Keep your decorations out of reach as your pet will likely be drawn to their shiny spectacle.    

2. Plants Aren’t Food

Classic holiday decorations like mistletoe and holly can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if eaten. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Consider artificial plants when decorating the home or placing these plants out of the reach of your pets.   

3. Prepare Them Special Treats

Chocolate, Xylitol (a sweetener that can be found in sugar-free candy, sugar-free baked goods, and sugar-free gum), and alcohol can be extremely harmful to your pet. Contact your veterinarian right away if you think they have consumed any of the above.   

Some may feel tempted to feed table scraps to their pets – which could also be harmful. Fatty, spicy foods, and foods with bones should be kept away from pets. Instead, consider serving a specially prepared meal to your pet at the same time. A fine dish of their favourite pet food would be the perfect distraction from other, more harmful foods.   

4. A Safe Room Just for Them

While many pets will enjoy the extra company, some will not. Be sure to set up a sanctuary room for your pet before guests arrive, equipped with bedding, food, water, and even some pleasant background sounds or music.  

5. Pet-Proof Your Tree

We’ve seen tons of videos online of cats climbing trees and dogs thinking that tree branches would make a good tug-of-war toy. Securely anchor your tree to prevent it falling or tipping.  

6. Prepare for New Year’s Celebrations

For our pets – who have no idea what’s going on or what to expect – fireworks are sudden shocks of terrifying volume. They can send an animal into a panic lasting hours after the light show has ended. To help them feel comfortable during fireworks, create a safe space they can retreat to that has their snacks, a cozy bed, and toys and turn on your radio, stereo, TV, or computer loud enough to distract from the noise. Click here for more firework safety tips for cats, dogs, and small pets. 

How to Include Your Pet in Holiday Celebrations

Every pet deserves to celebrate the holidays with the ones who love them the most, so here are a few ideas on how they can get into the holiday spirit. 

Give them presents: When the family opens presents, consider letting your fur family member open one of their own.  

Hang a stocking: Your pet likely doesn’t know what a stocking is, but they’re part of the family, so hang a stocking for your pet along with the rest of the family.   

Family holiday photos: If you like to send holiday cards to your friends and family, your pet will make the perfect addition to any photo. You could take it up a notch with matching outfits – even one for your pet!  

Extra playtime: Since the holidays can be stressful, you’ll want to give your pet as much affection and attention as possible to ease some of their stress and help tire them out. Regular playtime is crucial and can reduce stress by providing them with mental and physical stimulation.