Winter Holiday Safety For Pets

By: Dr. Veja Tillman, DVM

The Winter Holidays can be a joyous time for the family. But it can be an extremely dangerous time for your pets. Cats with their curious nature and dogs with their strong sense of smell, cause them both to get into holiday decorations, food, drinks and other folly.  Nothing spoils holiday cheer like a trip to your local veterinary emergency clinic during a holiday party or in the middle of the night. 

Here are some holiday tips to help keep your pets safe and out of harms way during this holiday season.

  • Keep people food out of the reach of your pets and ask your guests to do the same.
  • Make sure your pet does not have access to foods or sweets, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions or other toxic foods.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri.
  • Keep holiday plants (especially Holly, Poinsettia, Amaryllis, Mistletoe, pine needles and all Lilies) out of reach of pets.
  • Place lights, wires and batteries out of reach of your pets to avoid electrical shock and burn hazards from chewing on these items.
  • Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree if you have a cat.
  • Secure your Christmas tree to keep it from falling over just in case your dog bumps it or your cat decides to climb it. Hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it.
  • Plan a pet safe holiday gathering by setting house rules for your guest in case they would like to give your pets a little extra attention (table food, treats, etc) and exercise.
  • Put all medications behind secured doors and ask your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.
  • Provide a safe place for your pet(s) to escape the excitement and noise of holiday parties (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place in a quiet areas of the home) if you’re entertaining guests. If your pet is excitable or scared, consider putting your pet in another room with some toys and a comfortable bed to snuggle into.
  • Keep your veterinarian’s phone number handy in case you have any questions about your pet(s) health during the holiday season or in the event of an emergency.


Dr. Tillman is a 2002 graduate of Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. Her veterinary practice and work experience focuses on pet health and wellness. She is the owner of Just 4 Pets Wellness Center and can be reached at 239-270-5721.

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