Holiday Safety Tips for Dogs: 5 Dos and Don'ts

‘Tis the season! Cookies are baking, carols are playing, and your pup is curled up and snoozing by the fire. The holidays are best spent surrounded by loved ones—dogs included—but it’s not always easy to include your fur kid in the festivities. Here are a few safety tips and tricks for a happy howl-iday season!

Decking the Halls

Do: Break out the stockings and transform your home into a winter wonderland!
Don’t: Decorate with plants that are toxic when ingested.

Step one of getting into the holiday spirit? Decorating! It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until the lights are strung and the wreaths are hung, but as dog parents, we have to be careful that our decorations are just as safe as they are festive. Certain decorations, especially plants, can be harmful or toxic to dogs.


Poinsettias: Those red flowers you typically see on doorsteps around December are mildly toxic when ingested and can cause vomiting or diarrhea—a not-so-wonderful Christmastime.

Mistletoe: A romantic staple in Christmas decorations, this plant can be seriously harmful to your dog and will warrant a visit to the emergency veterinary clinic. Signs of poisoning from mistletoe include vomiting, diarrhea, other gastrointestinal disorders, and cardiovascular collapse.

Solution: Luckily, these instances are easily avoided. When it comes to plant décor, do your dog a favor and opt for artificial alternatives or simply keep the toxic plants well out of reach. If your dog does ingest some of your holiday foliage, call your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435. As for any doggy messes, Four Paws Wee-Wee Stain & Odor Destroyer will do the trick.

Roasting Chestnuts

Do: Indulge your dog with a special treat from Santa Paws.

Don’t: Overindulge him with table scraps.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for plentiful holiday meals, but relentless gluttony is one holiday tradition your dog definitely shouldn’t participate in.

Human Foods: Although you’ll be tempted to slip your dog some table scraps (it’s the season of giving, after all), the high-calorie, fatty foods that we look forward to all year can actually upset your dog’s stomach and, in some cases, cause pancreatitis. Not to mention, sharing scraps encourages begging and bad manners—a one-way ticket to the Naughty List.

Solution: Of course, every dog deserves a special treat for the holidays. If you’re looking to indulge your dog with savor holiday flavors, treat him to a Nylabone Flavor Frenzy Power Chew Toy in scrumptious turkey & sweet potato or baked ham & cheesy smashed potato flavor. He’ll get all the flavor of a holiday meal and none of the fat or calories. If only there were a human version!

Eight Crazy Nights

Do: Celebrate the Festival of Lights with a traditional menorah.

Don’t: Forget your furry fire safety.

Gathering around to light the menorah with your family is the most important Hanukkah ritual—and your dog is a part of your family!

Candles: If you include your fur kid in your Festival of Lights celebration, be sure to keep an eye on him. Pretty candles + canine curiosity + swishing tail = an accident waiting to happen!

Solution: Prevent a potential Hanukkah nightmare by carefully supervising your dog while lighting the candles and utilizing a gate to keep him away from the flames.

Holly Jolly Gatherings

Do: Eat, drink, and be merry.

Don’t: Lose track of your pup in all the festivities.

There’s a lot to think about when hosting a holiday party—there are dishes to cook, gifts to wrap, and playlists to perfect!

Parties: It’s easy to forget about your dog during the hustle and bustle of holiday festivities. If you’re hosting a party at your house, keep your dog in mind. Dogs can be easily overwhelmed by new people, and guests coming and going can lead to an accidental escape.

Solution: Make sure your dog is secured behind a gate or on a leash when welcoming guests into your home. Give your dog a safe and comfortabl e space somewhere quiet, like his crate with a doggy bed, so he can escape the hubbub. In some cases, it may be best to opt for a small, quiet dinner rather than a large party.

Trimming the Tree

Do: Spend an evening decorating the Christmas tree with your loved ones.

Don’t: Use glass ornaments, tinsel, or other decorations that could pose a threat for your pup.

There’s nothing like a dazzling Christmas tree to light up the holiday season! But when you’re decking out your Douglas fir, keep in mind that some traditional decorations are potentially dangerous.

Glass Ornaments: They’re glittering additions to your tree, but like cats during Christmastime, some dogs just can’t seem to keep their paws off them. If they’re knocked to the ground, they can shatter and cut your pup.

Tinsel: Stay away from tinsel, as it is indigestible and will get caught in your dog’s intestinal tract. The same applies to strings of popcorn and fake dog-treat ornaments. If your dog gets ahold of any of these decorations, you could end up spending the night at the emergency clinic.

Solution: Plastic ornaments are the way to go! The best way to save your dog from a Christmas tree catastrophe, however, is to keep hi m from going near it in the first place! Setting up a gate or two will keep your furry friend away from the temptations on your tree and stop a disaster before it happens.