Keep Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

October 27, 2022

By Elizabeth Robbins, D.V.M.
Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic

The holiday season is a wonderful time for gathering with friends and family. It can, however, be a time of increased danger and stress for our furry friends. Following these simple tips will help keep everyone safe and stress free during the holidays.

  • Food for Thought. The holidays are often a time for us to indulge in a variety of delicious foods. While it can be tempting, it is important to not share our food with our animals. Human food that can make pets ill (and even be toxic) include chocolate, macadamia nuts, xylitol (found in many items, including sugar free gum), fatty or spicy foods, onion, garlic, bones, grapes, and alcoholic beverages. Keep a close eye on your pets around food or drinks and secure trash can lids to keep everyone safe.
  • Oh, Christmas Tree. If you decorate a tree, be sure to anchor the tree upright so it won’t tip over and cause injury. Avoid glass ornaments that can break, as well as tinsel, string, or ribbons on trees and packages that can block intestines if swallowed. If purchasing a live tree, do not allow animals to drink water from the tree stand.
  • Holiday Plants. Holly, mistletoe, and lilies are beautiful holiday additions to our homes, but these can be quite toxic if ingested, while poinsettias can irritate the mouth and throat. If you have these holiday plants in your home, place them in an area where animals cannot reach them.
  • Let’s Party! While we love to gather together to celebrate the season, party noise, crowds and extra activity can cause fear and anxiety for some of our pets. Consider having a quiet area where animals can go to feel safe and escape the noise. A crate in a separate room, with noise from a sound machine, television, or radio can be helpful. Several canine calming music options are available online. There also over-the-counter calming pheromone sprays, collars, and thunder shirts to help with anxiety. If you feel that your animal has severe reactions to noise (such as fireworks), it is important to work with your veterinarian ahead of time to discuss available medication options.
  • Twinkle, Twinkle. It is a wondrous time of year to see all the twinkling lights, electric trains, and other decorations, but their batteries and wires can be tempting to our animals. Keep wires and batteries out of pets’ reach to avoid potentially lethal electric shock or burns of the mouth, tongue, and throat.
  • Pet Toys and Stocking Stuffers. We love spoiling our animals with toys and treats this time of year. Choose pet-safe stocking stuffers—indestructible and too big to swallow—or toys that allow you to place healthy treats inside. If gifting treats to other pets, consider that some animals have food allergies. Also avoid hard plastic items, antlers, and bones, as these can cause teeth to fracture. Look for items with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal to ensure their safety.

Our Midwestern University Clinics wish you and your pets a very happy holiday season.

The information contained in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment. Always consult your veterinarian with any questions regarding your pets’ health or medical condition.

Elizabeth Robbins, D.V.M., is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine. She supervises veterinary students in their last two years of clinical training at the Companion Animal Clinic, part of the Midwestern University Animal Health Institute in Glendale, Arizona. The Animal Health Institute clinics utilize the latest technology to provide high-quality care at affordable prices for both small and large animals. For information, call 623-806-7387 (PETS) or visit:

Related Topics

Animal Health Institute Companion Animal Clinic