‘Tis the season for glittery holiday decorations, delicious food, and family gatherings. Many of the holiday delights we look forward to all year can pose problems for our pets, though. WIth a little careful planning and our holiday pet safety tips, you and your pets can have a safe and fun holiday season.


Holiday decorations, like tinsel, ornaments, and a Hanukkah menorah or Christmas tree mark our holiday season with a beautiful aesthetic. However, they can also be irresistible to our pets, especially cats!

Christmas tree – The Christmas tree might be one of the most enticing holiday decorations, and many cats and dogs can’t resist going in for a closer look. It’s one of the toughest holiday pet safety challenges! You could try securing the tree to the wall, removing all the tempting decorations, or getting a smaller tabletop tree that can be safely located away from pets.

Ornaments – These sparkly and glittery decorations are so lovely, but are a real threat to holiday pet safety if ingested. They can cause big problems, such as intestinal punctures or blockages, sometimes requiring surgery. Hang lights high, consider eliminating tinsel all together, and look for felt or unbreakable ornaments instead.

Poisonous plants – Another common decoration that can be toxic to pets, especially cats, are poisonous holiday plants. Holly, amaryllis, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies can all cause problems from stomach upset to mouth irritation, and even kidney failure. Steer clear of these by substituting silk flowers or other faux foliage without any added ribbons or decorations that your pet can ingest.

Holiday Foods

It’s best to keep holiday foods away from pets. To include them safely in holiday food and treats, make some for them yourself or buy treats formulated especially for pets. Many holiday foods are toxic, or can cause stomach upset or pancreatitis. Nothing spoils holiday cheer like an emergency visit to your veterinarian, so avoid these holiday foods in particular:

  • Chocolate, including baking chocolate and hot chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Table scraps
  • Alcohol
  • Yeast dough
  • Candy and treats containing Xylitol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions, garlic, and chives

Visitors and Travel

Sharing our home and traveling to be with family and friends are both wonderful ways to mark the holiday season. Keep in mind a few tips to help your pet adjust to this change in their normal routine.

Visitors – Some pets can become nervous around visitors. All pets should have a quiet place, like a separate room or their crate, where they can retreat from the action. Inform visitors that you have pets, and make sure that you are watching the exits when people come and go to avoid your pet getting out and potentially hurt or lost. Speaking of lost, make sure your pet has a microchip, the single best way to ensure a reunion with you.

Travel – Holiday travel can be especially stressful on pets. Long car rides or crowded airports can cause anxiety and take careful planning and preparation to be successful. If you are traveling with your pets, call us early to discuss required immunizations and a health certificate for travel. You should also call your airline (if flying) to understand their procedures for flying with pets.

If you choose to travel without your pets, call us to discuss the accommodations we offer for pet boarding. You can be assured that your furry friends or exotic pets will be well taken care of and loved like family while you’re away from home.

Take some time this holiday season to think about how to include your pets safely in your holiday plans. If you have any questions or would like more ideas, feel free to contact us at Dickinson Animal Hospital and Pet Wellness Center.