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Holiday Safety for Dogs

While the holiday season can be a fun time of year for us, we also need to be thinking about how to keep our canine friends safe. This article explores some common seasonal pet hazards and how to avoid them.

Holiday Decorations

Photo of amaryllis
Potted plants such as amaryllis are toxic to dogs. (Photo by I Do Nothing But Love on Unsplash)

Pine needles – Real Christmas trees have sharp needles; not only can these hurt your dog’s paws, but if eaten they can cause tummy issues, including blockages, or puncture your dog’s tummy or intestines. Hoover up pine needles regularly.

Tree water – Do not let your dog drink the water used to keep your tree looking its best, as the water can be dangerous for dogs to ingest, as is pine bark which can be a choking hazard or cause tummy issues if eaten.

Fire hazards – Keep your dog away from real or fake trees, as well as lit candles, so they do not knock them over, which could scare or injure your dog and be a potential fire hazard. (If you have a little tree, then you could put it out of reach of your dog.)

Glass and tinsel – It is nice to decorate with family and friends but keep decorations out of reach of your pets, especially tinsel and items made of glass.

Toxic plants – Decorating the house with holly and ivy and putting up mistletoe is a holiday tradition for some, but holly, ivy and mistletoe are poisonous to pets. Potted plants such as amaryllis and poinsettia are a festive addition to the home but are also toxic to pets. Keep these plants out of reach of your dogs and cats.

Stressful triggers – If your dog is a rescue, new to your home or a puppy they may be worried by having shimmering, glowing, or fragrant decorations suddenly appear in their home. Give your dog time to get used to new sights and scents, as well as other seasonal stressors. Consider whether or not to purchase electric decorations that move or produce sound; not only could these worry or scare your dog but your dog could also get hurt if they chew the cables.

Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

Dangerous holiday food items include:

  • Turkey (avoid cooked bones, dark meat and skin) – Turkey skin and the dark meat are high in fat. Additionally, turkey skin is hard to digest. Cooked bones can splinter causing internal damage if they are eaten by your dog.
  • Figgy pudding, fruit cake and mince pies– Beware of any festive delights that contain dried fruit such as raisins, as these are dried grapes, which are toxic to dogs.
  • Onions and garlic contain substances that are toxic to dogs.
  • Chocolate
  • Many sweets and nuts
  • Alcohol – Any alcohol is dangerous for dogs.

Keep these festive foods out of reach of your pets. It is important to reach out to your vet and/ or poison control for assistance if you suspect your dog has gotten into any of these holiday dangers.

Enjoy the festivities and keep your canine friends safe too!

About the Author

The author, Caroline Ward pictured with one dog on her lap and one sitting next to her on the couch
Photo provided by Caroline Ward

Caroline Ward is a UK based dog trainer and managing director of her own business FITdogs Club, which was born in 2016. She has gained her IABTC instructor and IABTC Clicker and target (levels 1-3). Caroline attended several workshops in puppy training, life skills and cognition, including the Dog’s Mind and Social Learning in Puppies with Claudia Fugazza (2019) and most recently Chirag Patel’s online puppy training workshop (2023). 

Caroline is a committee member of the Pet Professional Guild (canine division). She loves helping puppies and dogs create a bond through play, fun and training, with a special interest in canine cognition and how dogs feel, which is something she would like to develop in the future.


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