Holiday Safety

Holiday Safety

Holidays are a great time for families and friends to get together, share a meal and enjoy each other’s company. But many holiday traditions can also be dangerous or harmful to our pets. By remembering basic safety tips and using common sense, however, everyone can enjoy the festivities of the season.


Food and Drink – Many classic holiday foods and drinks can be harmful to pets, including alcoholic beverages, walnuts, chocolate, seeds and pits from many fruits, and meat bones.  Keep a close watch on your buffet table, and never feed pets scraps from the dinner table. Read more details about harmful foods.

Candles – Be careful with your candles. Wagging tails can easily knock them over, spilling hot wax onto your carpet and furniture, or – even worse – seriously burning your pet and/or starting a fire. Even a pet standing too close to a candle flame can end up with singed fur or whiskers.

Fireplaces – We love to see our pets relaxing in front of our fireplace, but please be careful of ashes and popping wood. Always keep a fire screen in place; a second screen can help to keep your pet further away from sparks. Close metal and glass doors tightly even when you’re not using the fireplace…you don’t want your pet playing in the ashes.

Plants – Many pets think holiday plants look good enough to eat! Unfortunately, mistletoe berries and the leaves, stems and flowers of poinsettia can be poisonous to pets. Be sure to keep these plants safely out of reach of animals in your home – or consider using artificial versions. Spraying plant leaves with “Bitter Apple” repellant may also help keep your pets away. Don’t forget to pick up and toss any berries, leaves or stems that may have fallen off.  For more, read about potentially dangerous plants.

Decorations – Keep your pet away from potentially hazardous decorations. Hanging decorations, like streamers, light strings, fake spider webbing, ribbon, and tinsel can easily become tangled around your pet. If swallowed, they could cause serious digestive problems. Small decorations can also cause choking, so keep these far from your pet’s reach.

Electrical Cords – Tack them down or cover them! If your pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe tongue burn. This could cause respiratory distress, because the burn will make the pet’s lungs fill with fluid.

Costumes – If you decide to dress up your pet, make sure your pet’s costume is safe. Never leave a pet in a costume unsupervised. Costumes shouldn’t constrict movement or obstruct your pet’s vision, hearing, or ability to breathe or bark. Reflective tape on a costume may be for visibility, especially if your pet will be wearing his costume after dark. Also, make sure the costume doesn’t have any small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces that could hurt or choke your pet.

Some pets can be frightened of people in costume.  At Halloween, keep your pets securely inside, away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities. They will be less frightened, and won’t feel threatened by exuberant costumed children. Keeping your pet securely in a bedroom or bathroom will also diminish any chance of your pet escaping through an open door.

Fireworks – Resist the urge to take your pet to fireworks displays.  Fireworks are fun for the family, and terrifying for our pets. If you know your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th firework displays for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience.

Some animals become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep him company while you’re away attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations. Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or entangle themselves in their chain – in both cases, risking injury and death.

A Note About Pet Identification – Holidays tend to involve a lot of visitors, who may accidentally leave a door or window open. It is important to make sure that your pet is wearing current identification.  If your pet is microchipped, please make sure that your contact information is current.

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