Holiday Pet Safety: Top 10 Dog Safety Tips for Christmas

dog safety, safety tips for Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but do you know if the festivities are safe for Fido?

From unhealthy human foods to toxic plants or a tipping Christmas tree, the holiday season brings many new dangers for your best pal.

By reviewing our dog safety tips for Christmas and planning ahead, these risks to your fuzzy friends can be minimized — so that you can relax and let the whole fur-family celebrate safely on Christmas morning!

1. Plants

Hanging festive greenery is a beautiful way to deck the halls — but before you do, double check that the plants you’re hanging up aren’t being displayed somewhere your dog can eat them.

Some holiday plants are extremely toxic for your dog, such as lilies, azaleas and yew. Ingesting any of these may cause seizures or even kidney failure. For your dog’s safety, these plants should be kept out of the house entirely.

Other holiday plants are only mildly toxic, resulting in nausea or vomiting and a rough day for everyone. If you use any mistletoe, holly, poinsettias or amaryllis in your decor, make sure they’re kept well out of Fido’s reach.

2. Presents

Bows, wrapping paper, ribbons and tags can all be tempting targets for your pup at Christmastime. This is especially true on Christmas morning as the presents get unwrapped. In all the excitement, you may not notice Rover sneaking away with a bow to chew on!

Limit your pet’s access to your wrapping supplies. If they show any interest in the wrapped presents themselves, either keep the presents out of sight until closer to Christmas, or protect the entire Christmas tree with a festive holiday fence!

3. Tree

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas tree. The star-topped tree is bound to be the centerpiece of your holiday display — which means it’s also bound to catch your pup’s attention.

The biggest danger to your dog from the Christmas tree is the risk of it falling over. All it takes is one curious pooch pulling on the tinsel or one rambunctious hound leaping off the sofa, and suddenly the tree is going down! To avoid this disaster, make sure your Christmas tree has a very secure base or is attached to the ceiling with a wire.

Also, stay aware of ornament dangers. Edible ornaments or very breakable ornaments like those made from glass, ceramic or porcelain should be avoided, in case your dog gets too investigative and knocks them off the branches.
Finally, if you are using a live tree this year don’t let your pets drink the water, as the fertilizers and additives may make your pet unwell.

If all else fails, don’t feel bad about putting a fence around the tree. It may be the safest way to protect both your pet and your holiday decor!

4. Food

There are many popular holiday foods that are healthy for humans, but not so healthy for our precious pups!

Candy and sweets don’t make good dog treats, as they often contain chocolate, macadamia nuts, or raisins — all of which are toxic for dogs. The artificial sweetener xylitol is also extremely dangerous for our furry pals, and is found in many common foods including candy, cake mix, sauces, syrups and sugar-free gum.

Other foods to avoid for your pets this Christmas include alcohol, onion or garlic, nuts, cooked bones, raw dough and any overly fatty foods. 

5. Lights and Electronics

The sparkling lights of Christmas mean there’s a lot more wires and cords running across the mantlepiece and surfaces of your home now than at any other time of the year. Even pets that normally leave wires alone may be tempted to investigate all the new options.

Chewing on live wires can seriously harm your pet or start a fire (not to mention ruin your beautiful Christmas lights display!), so it’s worth the extra effort to keep cords and plugs tucked away or covered as much as possible.

If your pets are really determined, you may wish to look into a more creative option for keeping your dogs and cats away from electric wires — such as cord protectors, bad-smelling deterrents or wrapping the cords in double-sided sticky tape to make them much less appealing to Rover and Felix.

6. People and Parties

Between holiday parties and visiting family and friends, Christmastime often means there’s more people in the house than usual.

Some of those guests may be unfamiliar to your pets, or children who behave erratically in your pet’s eyes. To make sure everyone has a safe experience this Christmas, monitor all interactions your pets have with children. It’s also a good idea to make sure your pet has a ‘safe space’ to go to, so they can get away from all the activity if it becomes overwhelming.

With so many people coming and going, it’s also important to be aware of your pet trying to escape. It’s much easier for your kitty or pup to sneak out the door when you’re occupied carrying the new TV!

Finally, it’s possible not all of your houseguests will be pet-aware. Make a point to warn them not to leave their purses or other items somewhere the pets can get into them and potentially eat something dangerous.

7. Outdoors

We’re all hoping for a white Christmas, but snowy winter weather brings new risks for your best buddy.

As the weather gets colder, remember not to leave your pet outside for very long or alone in the car. Even if it doesn’t feel too cold at first, the temperature can drop quite quickly, resulting in discomfort or even hypothermia for your pal. Even a dog who seems to be playing happily in the snow may not realize how chilled they are getting — so when in doubt, bring them in.

When your pet does come back inside from playing or walking, be sure to wipe their paws off. This not only prevents uncomfortable ice crystals from building up between their toes, but also removes any ice melt or sidewalk salt that can give your pet an upset stomach if they lick it off their paws. Another option would be to get your buddy some adorable winter booties to wear!

Finally, one of the biggest dangers to your pets in winter is antifreeze, which is extremely toxic. Ingesting even a small amount can kill your pet. Keep all antifreeze locked up and away from your pet, and remember it can be present in places you may not think of, like in the liquid that drips from the underside of your vehicle or in the pools of dirty water on the street.

8. Holiday Decorations

If your pup loves a good game of tug-of-war, Christmas is the most tempting time of year with a million things to play with and possibly ingest.

Typical targets include tinsel, ribbons and garland, many of which are very sparkly and interesting to a curious pooch. Jingle bells, festive tablecloths and almost anything else that’s suddenly appeared in the house around the holidays can also be at risk.

Other decor dangers include lit candles which can be knocked over and start a fire, or any breakable decorations that your Great Dane’s wagging tail may swipe straight off the dresser. Be especially mindful of snow globes: the liquid inside often contains the same active ingredient as antifreeze and is highly toxic to pets. If a snow globe is cracked or broken, don’t let Rover lick the carpet where it fell!

Finally, to keep your pets safe at Christmas, we recommend not using any liquid potpourri. They are toxic for your pal to ingest, and certain oils are unsafe for your pet to even inhale. They’re best avoided entirely, just to be safe!

9. Toys

Christmas means a lot of new toys in the house — and your best furiend may think they’re all for him!

Plastic pieces, doll clothes or other small toy components can be ingested and swallowed by a curious pet — especially if excited children leave them scattered on the floor on Christmas morning. Electronic toys in particular may contain batteries, which can leak battery acid if your pet chews on them and cracks one open.

Our suggestion for Christmas morning is to keep your pets away from where the unwrapping is occurring, until the room has been tidied and all toys put away.

10. Christmas Sweaters and Costumes 

We know there’s few things more adorable than seeing your little pooch in reindeer antlers or a Santa onesie!

But just to be safe, be sure to try out any pet costumes in advance of Christmas Day so that your pal has time to get used to them. If your pup seems like they are overheating or their movement is restricted, or if they’re just not comfortable, ditch the holiday sweater and opt for a festive collar or bandana instead.

With all holiday costumes — both yours and Fido’s — be careful that your curious pet doesn’t bite off a jingle bell, sparkly pom-pom or Rudolph’s flashing nose!

In all the excitement and festive fun, it’s important to stay aware of pet safety and all the potential holiday dangers to your pup. Follow these dog safety tips for Christmas to ensure the furriest members of your family have a very Merry Christmas!

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