8 Dog Safety Tips This Holiday Season

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays and forget about some things that keep dogs safe. Here’s what to know.

Dec 13, 2023By Sara Payne
dog safety tips this holiday season

With the holiday season close, you have many preparations to make. There are gifts to buy, and decorations to put up–– and don’t forget to fill your dog’s stocking with yummy treats and toys. But, as you prepare for the holidays, consider what steps you need to take to give your canine a safe holiday.

Many of the holiday decorations, plants, and foods are dangerous for your dog. Follow these eight dog-safety tips to ensure you and your dog have a holiday that is merry and bright.

1. No Little Drumsticks for Your Good Boy

roast turkey
Image credit: Pixabay

With delicious sights and smells on every corner, your dog’s mouth will water when it sees the holiday meal. If your family prepares a holiday turkey or chicken, avoid giving your dog the bones. Although this may seem like a festive treat, it’s just not a good idea.

Veterinarians caution owners against feeding cooked bones to their dogs because cooked poultry bones are brittle, so it’s easy for them to break into small, sharp pieces. These bones can cause obstructions in the throat or intestinal tract. Sharp bones may also cause mouth or tongue injuries––or worse, pose a choking hazard.

Even if you don’t plan to give your dog bones, keep meals covered with aluminum foil or a heavy lid to discourage your dog from sneaking bites. After the meal, put away leftovers promptly, and take out your trash to the can immediately. You don’t want to attract raccoons and possums to your yard!

2. Deck the Halls with Non-Toxic Plants

toy dog holly berries
Image credit: Pixabay

Poinsettias, holly, and ivy may be beautiful as decorations around the house, but many of the plants we use to deck the halls are toxic to our furry friends. If your dog were to ingest some of these plants, they may have adverse reactions.

Dog owners should consider avoiding the following toxic plants, or keep them out of reach:

  • Holly: This plant contains toxic substances that cause severe gastrointestinal upset.
  • Mistletoe: This plant causes diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea in dogs.
  • Lilies: These are very toxic for cats but can also cause stomach upset for dogs.
  • Poinsettias: These are mildly toxic. They contain sap that causes vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea. It may also cause skin irritation and rashes.

You can buy fake versions of these decorative plants to enjoy the beauty without danger. If you believe your dog may have ingested a toxic plant, contact a pet poison control hotline or your veterinarian immediately.

3. Put Away the Christmas Wrapping

white dog santa costume
Image credit: Pixabay

The wrapping paper and plastic packaging on presents can be extremely attractive to your pup. So, toss your wrapping in the garbage as soon as you remove it from the package. This will keep your dog from snooping around in the mess and finding a piece of plastic or paper to chew on.

Dogs can choke on these items, or they may end up with an intestinal blockage if the packaging is accidentally swallowed.

4. Check What’s in the Figgy Pudding

Dog_with_santa_claus_hat_(50715296458)
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

There are many treats and desserts during the holidays, but many of the foods at the holiday table are bad for your dog. For example, chocolate is toxic to dogs, so be sure to keep chocolate treats out of the reach of your pup.

Many other sweets contain xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener linked with liver failure and death in dogs. Even table scraps such as gravy, sauces, dressing, or meat may not be ideal. Many of these foods are high in fat and hard to digest. Unbaked yeast doughs also cause painful gas and bloating.

If you want to include your dog in the festivities, give them dog-safe treats. Alternatively, you can make them some tasty treats made with healthy foods, like pumpkin, carrots, and kale.

5. Avoid the Silver and Gold Decorations

dogs ornaments
Image credit: Pixabay

Ribbons, tinsel, wreaths, and glittery decorations can be tempting for dogs. They may want to play with or chew on these items. If they ingest these materials, they can choke or get an intestinal blockage.

These are most tempting at the bottom of the tree, where these materials are at eye level. Try to keep these decorations out of the reach of your dog. If any fall to the ground, pick them up as soon as possible to keep your dog safe.

6. Secure the Plugs in Your Winter Wonderland

dog lights
Image credit: Pixabay

Nothing beats the glow of holiday lights, but electrical wires and batteries can be dangerous for your pup. Dogs who chew on wires may get a lethal electrical shock if they gnaw on live cords. If they chew on batteries, they can get burns in their mouth and esophagus.

The glass bulbs on lights can also break and cause damage to your pet’s mouth and digestive tract. Be sure to keep electric cords, battery-operated decorations, bulbs, and ornaments out of reach of your dog.

7. Anchor That Oh, Christmas Tree

Dog_made_from_pipe_cleaners_in_the_White_House
Image credit: Pixabay

Your dog will sniff, inspect, and may even touch your tree. An unanchored tree could fall on your dog and injure him, or the shattered ornaments could pose cutting and/or choking risks. So, be sure to secure your tree.

Also, if you have a real tree, prevent your dog from drinking its water. Tree water may contain fertilizers or other chemicals that can cause your dog to have an upset stomach. Additionally, stagnant tree water can contain bacteria that could cause health concerns.

8. Run, Run Rudolph to Put Out the Candles

brown dog antlers
Image credit: Pixabay

People often light candles or oil lamps during the holidays. If you do, be sure to place the candles out of your pet’s reach. They could knock over the candle, leading to a fire. Or, the candle could fall on your pet, causing a burn.

Additionally, if you use Firestarter logs, practice caution. Keep them out of reach of your pup. Dogs who like to chew may get sick if they ingest the sawdust from these logs. They contain paraffin and other materials that may irritate your dog’s stomach.

Be Mindful This Holiday Season

dog chewing gift
Image credit: Pixabay

The holiday season can be a wonderful time to share with your pet. As you deck the halls this season, be mindful of where you place your decorations and what decor you choose to put in your home. Also, avoid feeding your dog leftovers or baked foods; instead opt for dog-safe treats.

By following these eight dog safety tips this holiday season, you and your dog can relax and enjoy peace of mind.

Sara Payne
By Sara Payne

Sara is a mother of two and a high school English teacher who rediscovered her love of writing during the pandemic. She has 5 rescue cats: Neville and Luna, who are white cats with black and grey spots, and Ginny, Blue, and Fairy, who are calicos. Besides taking care of humans and fur babies, Sara enjoys gardening, crafting, and spending time in nature.