Top 12 Winter Holiday Pet Hazards

Funny, cute and playful pug dogCelebrating the holidays with pets can be festive and memorable. Often it means chilly weather, the hustle and bustle of decorating, parties and traveling. However, some of these festive traditions can pose hazards to your dog, cat or small animal. Follow these tips to prevent accidents or illness:

1. Artificial and Live Trees

  • Secure your tree to a wall or window to prevent it from falling on your pet. Use a pet gate or indoor exercise pen to keep her away from the tree.
  • Artificial and live tree needles can be sharp and are indigestible. Pick up needles daily to help prevent your pet from eating them.
  • Cover your tree water basin tightly with aluminum foil and a tree skirt; bacteria from sitting water can make your pet sick.

2. Decorations

  • Place glass ornaments, tinsel and lights up higher on your tree, where your curious pet can’t get to them. Tinsel can pose a serious health risk for your pet if eaten.
  • Cover electrical cords or tape them down to prevent your pet from chewing on them and possibly getting burned, shocked or electrocuted.

3. Wrapped Presents

  • Ribbons, bows and other decorative items can be a danger to your pet. These items are a choking hazard and if ingested could cause an intestinal obstruction.
  • Supervise your pet around wrapped gifts. They may get curious and chew their way into presents and their contents. Toys with small or removable parts are a choking hazard, and batteries can be a danger to your precocious pet.

4. Live Plants

  • Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, lilies and daffodils are poisonous to your pet, so keep them in a place where they can’t get to them.

5. Cold Weather

  • Consider booties and a warm sweater or coat for your dog if you go outside for winter walks.
  • Watch for the formation of ice balls between your dog’s toes and regularly trim the long hair between her footpads to avoid frostbitten feet. If you suspect frostbite, do not rub the area but simply apply a warm, moist washcloth and contact your veterinarian.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in your car as it can act as a freezer in extreme temperatures. Pets (especially younger and older dogs) can suffer stress, frostbite and hypothermia when their body temperature drops just a few degrees below normal.

6. Visitors

  • The holidays are a busy time, with more traffic in your house than usual. If your pet tends to get nervous around strangers or increased activity, set up a quiet place for them to retreat to—complete with food, water, a bed and anything else they may need.
  • If you host a holiday party, it may be best for your pet to relax in a quiet room, away from all the noise and people. Playing soft music can help calm them.

7. Table Scraps and Treats

  • Never feed your pet chocolate, grapes or raisins—all are toxic to dogs, cats and small animals and could lead to serious illness.
  • Sugar-free treats are made with xylitol and can also cause illness; never leave holiday desserts out where your pet can reach them.
  • Dogs should never eat nuts, which are often used in holiday baking. Be especially cautious of foods containing macadamia nuts, walnuts and pistachios. Note that peanut butter is OK as an occasional treat.
  • Never give your pet any bones from fish, poultry or other meat sources. Bones can easily cause an airway obstruction and splinter off, creating a laceration in her digestive system.
  • Carefully dispose of your turkey carcass to prevent your pet from choking on small bones or suffering throat damage from brittle bones. Discarded meat can also contain a host of bacteria that causes food poisoning. Seal it safely out of your pet’s reach.

8. Travel

  • If you plan to fly with your pet, contact your airline in advance for detailed information about bringing your pet in the cabin, paperwork you need to bring and other arrangements.
  • Make sure your pet has proper identification—including an ID tag on his collar and a microchip ID—in case he should get lost.
  • If you plan to board your pet when you travel out of town, make your reservation ahead of time so you’re guaranteed a spot during the busiest time of year.
  • You can always book a reservation at one of our many Pooch Hotel locations if travel plans take you out of town. We’d love to bring some holiday cheer to them.

9. Chemicals

  • De-icing salts used to melt snow and ice can be poisonous if licked by your dog or the neighborhood cat. Use pet-safe ice melt rather than rock salt.
  • Automotive antifreeze tastes sweet, but contains ethylene glycol, which can cause rapid and permanent kidney damage, and can be deadly to your pet if ingested.
  • Wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes back inside after being outdoors, and make sure all chemicals are out of reach in your garage.

10. Alcohol

  • Keep your pet away from the holiday punch, eggnog and anything else containing alcohol, which can depress her nervous system and cause a variety of ailments—including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and even seizures.

11. Candles and Potpourri

  • Keep burning candles out of reach.
  • Hot liquid potpourri can possibly burn your pet and dry potpourri can be harmful if ingested.

12. Lack of Attention

    • The holidays are a busy time. Remember that your pet prefers regular mealtimes, walks and lots of love and attention. Take the time to give them much-needed playtime, and try to stick to their routine.
    • If your schedule has you running in all directions, consider a visit to our dog daycare. We’ll give them all of the TLC they want, while you check items off of your ‘to do’ list.
retriever puppy in Christmas costumes