Holiday Safety Tips


The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to remember to keep your pet’s safety top of mind. For whichever holiday you may be celebrating, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has the ultimate holiday guide to help keep your pets safe!

1. Delicious Dangers

While this time of year may include some of the best food, we recommend keeping your pet’s diet the same as any other day. Fatty, sweet and spicy foods as well as turkey or chicken bones can all be dangerous to our pets. While a small piece of boneless turkey is a fine treat, it is always better to ere on the safe side and avoid accidentally feeding your pet something that could have a toxic spice or ingredient in it. If your celebration includes alcoholic beverages, be sure not to leave your drink unattended where pets can get to them.

Use our full list of hazardous foods to know what to look out for!

2. Watch Out for Wires

You may have more festive décor out this time of year, so be sure to 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, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.

3. Mistletoe, Oh No!

Both mistletoe and holly can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems if ingested by pets. Many types of lilies that are typically found in holiday bouquets are highly toxic and can cause kidney failure in cats. Poinsettias can also make pets sick with mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation. So, be sure to keep floral decorations out of paws reach or replace the traditional holiday plant with a faux alternative! You can take a more in-depth look at poisonous house plants with our full list.

4. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Christmas trees can pose quite a few potential threats to furry companions. If you are planning to put up a Christmas tree, make sure it is tightly secured so there is no chance it can tip over and hurt any pets nearby. Other tree tips include:

a. Make sure the tree water is covered and/or inaccessible to curious pets. Tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria that could cause nausea, diarrhea or stomach upset.

b. You can’t see the contents of a wrapped present, but pets might smell it. Be sure to keep wrapped food or candy off the ground!

c. Lastly, steer clear of tinsel for decoration. Ingested tinsel can cause severe vomiting, obstructed digestive tract, dehydration and could even require surgery. Stick to lights and ornaments instead!

5. Caution Around Candles

Whether you are lighting a menorah or filling your home with scented candles, make sure you do not leave any candles unattended. Curious paws and happy wagging tails could knock them over, potentially burning your pet or starting a fire.

6. Loud Noises

It can be easy to forget that our pets may be sensitive to loud sounds while having fun. Loud music, fireworks, celebratory poppers or noisemakers can scare our furry companions. Make sure there is a safe space your pet can retreat to if they need some quiet time, like an interior room. Please also keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery.

7. Talkin’ Trash

While it may be the last thing on your mind throughout the day, our smart pets know where they can find some sneaky leftovers. Make sure you take out the trash or secure the lids on any garbage cans that may have food, broken decorations or any other holiday hazards inside.

8. Snow Globes

Snow globes are made with ethylene glycol, the same chemical used in antifreeze, which is highly toxic to all pets. If a snow globe breaks, the sweet smell can attract pets to taste it, leading to potentially fatal intoxication. Be sure to keep snow globes away from pets and thoroughly clean up any accidental breakages.

9. Salty Hazards

Ice melt and salt-dough ornaments—even when dry—may be enticing to pets but can cause life-threatening imbalances in electrolytes. We recommend using pet-friendly ice-melting agents!

10. Mind your Medication

Keep your medication safely put away and out of paws’ reach. If you are planning on having guests stay with you, make sure they keep any medications away from pets as well. Those unfamiliar with pets may not know how curious some of our furry friends can be, so have houseguests leave their medication in a closed cabinet rather than a bag or suitcase.

11. Tinsel-less Town

Kitties love tinsel as it’s sparkly, light-catching and easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But ingestion can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

We hope you and your pets have a safe, happy holiday season!

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, please contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435 immediately.