20 Tips to Protect Your Dog During the Holidays

The holiday season is here, and many of us look forward to spending quality time with our loved ones. It’s the season of celebrations, gifts, decorations, lots of food, and traveling.

As much as all these can be fun for humans, they can also be a source of stress and danger to our dogs. As a dog owner, you must know how to identify potential pet hazards in your home during this festive season and what to do to keep your dog safe and happy.

The following safety tips will take you through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve:

Thanksgiving Dog Safety Tips

1. Keep Your Dog in a Safe Area Away from Your Guests

The loud noises and influx of guests in your home during Thanksgiving can be overwhelming for most dogs. It makes them scared and anxious to the point that they hide, bark, whine, or run away.

To make things easier for your four-legged companion, it’s advisable that you place him in his crate or in a separate room that’s quiet, safe, and cozy. This helps to keep him away from large crowds and loud noises in your home, as well as from the children who may want to play roughly with him.

It also helps to protect young children and frail adults who may not feel safe around an anxious, stressed, and aggressive dog.

2. Keep a Close Eye on Your Cocktail

Dogs naturally love the smell of beer and will gladly take advantage of your absence to take a sip. However, alcoholic beverages aren’t supposed to be consumed by dogs because they’re toxic to their system.

So, as you enjoy drinks with family members and friends this Thanksgiving, make sure you’re not leaving your glasses unattended.

3. Keep Harmful Human Foods Out of Reach

The following Thanksgiving foods are very harmful to dogs when ingested, so you mustn’t allow your pet near them:

Turkey Bones and Fatty Skin

Feeding your dog turkey bones is a no-no. There’s a high possibility of the bones splintering and causing punctures and infections inside his stomach. As if that’s not enough, turkey bones can also cause choking, vomiting, and indigestion when swallowed by dogs.

The skin from roasted turkey also has an extremely high-fat content, which is difficult for dogs to digest. Besides that, there’s also an increased risk of developing pancreatitis and obesity if your dog eats such fatty foods.

Chocolate Desserts

The most famous dessert associated with Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. However, many families are now offering chocolate desserts to their guests as well during Thanksgiving.

If you’re one of them, know that chocolate contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener highly toxic to dogs when ingested. Many dogs love the taste and smell of chocolate and won’t hesitate to help themselves if they’re kept within their reach.

To avoid xylitol poisoning and a subsequent emergency trip to the vet, keep your Thanksgiving chocolate desserts out of your dog’s sight and reach.


Ham and many other pork products also have high-fat content that can cause obesity and pancreatitis in dogs. But that’s not all. Feeding ham to your pooch can also lead to stomach upsets, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Salads Containing Raisins and Grapes

Many salads (such as Waldorf salad, fruit salad, etc.) often served on Thanksgiving Day contain raisins or grapes. These two ingredients, when ingested, can cause renal failure in dogs. So, you’re better off not feeding your pet any salad containing them.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Onions and garlic are some of the ingredients often used in making Thanksgiving dressing. However, these ingredients are highly toxic and can cause severe anemia when ingested by dogs, so make sure you keep them out of reach as well.

Mashed Potatoes

This holiday favorite is another Thanksgiving food worth paying attention to. Potatoes are among the few human foods considered safe for dogs, but mashed potatoes eaten during Thanksgiving contain milk and butter, which aren’t good for lactose-tolerant dogs. It causes diarrhea, and that’s not what you’d like to happen to your pet on Thanksgiving Day.

Some mashed potato recipes also require the use of garlic or onion powder. As you’ve seen above, these two ingredients are toxic to dogs.


That delicious Thanksgiving bread isn’t good for your furry friend, either. Yeast-baked bread is well known for causing bloating and severe pain in dogs as the yeast rises in their stomachs. So, keep your Thanksgiving bread out of your pet’s reach and wrap up any slices left during breakfast.

4. Secure the Lids of Your Garbage Cans Properly

Food wastes are just as harmful to dogs as the main meals during Thanksgiving. So, ensure you’re properly disposing of the food in garbage cans. The cans should have strong, secure lids to prevent your dog from accessing them.

5. Watch Your Pet around Hot Containers

The sweet smell of Thanksgiving delicacies will draw your dog toward the direction where the smell is coming from. It doesn’t matter whether the odor comes from the kitchen where the cooking is done or in the dining room.

However, if you don’t keep a close eye on your pet around hot food containers, he can easily tip them over and get burned in the process. He might also end up eating harmful human foods out of curiosity. Watching your dog around hot containers will go a long way in preventing such accidents from happening.

6. Ensure Your Dog Wears an ID Tag at All Times

Just in case your dog is planning to escape from all the commotion in your home during Thanksgiving, you should be ready for him by closing all windows and doors properly.

But most importantly, ensure there’s an identification tag with your updated contact information attached to his collar/harness. If he manages to run away and get lost, anyone who finds him will be able to bring him back to you safely in the shortest time possible.

Many of these Thanksgiving safety tips also apply during Christmas and New Year holidays. However, there are extra potential pet hazards that come during Christmas that you need to know about.

Christmas Dog Safety Tips

1. Secure Your Christmas Tree Properly

Did you know the beautiful Christmas trees you use to brighten up your holiday pose a great danger to dogs and other pets? Yes, that’s right. If not anchored properly, Christmas trees can easily get knocked over by curious and enthusiastic pets, injuring them in the process, or causing destruction to your home.

This is why you should take the time to secure your Christmas tree properly to the ceiling or wall to make it stable. Consider stacking Christmas presents around the exposed edges of the tree and keep pets from knocking it over or going under it.

If you’re using a real tree, make sure that you sweep all the fallen needles regularly to reduce the likelihood of your dog swallowing them. Pine needles, for instance, are very sharp and can puncture the intestines when swallowed.

2. Keep Your Pet Away from Christmas Tree Water

Christmas tree water is equally dangerous to your dog. It contains harmful fertilizers, preservatives, and bacteria that cause serious stomach upsets when consumed. So, make sure you keep your pet as far away from the water as possible.

3. Keep All Christmas Lights Out of Reach of Your Pets

Other than the Christmas tree and tree water, Christmas lights are also very harmful to dogs. Your curious pet might end up playing with the wires and electrical cords or chewing the bulbs, thinking they’re toys.

When this happens, he can get electrocuted or get entangled in the wires and trip over them. It’s crucial to place all the bulbs and wires higher than normal to keep them out of reach of pets. This can be on the upper half or upper two-thirds of your tree.

Also, don’t forget to secure the electrical cords on the floor with tape or hide them from your dog’s sight.

4. Consider Using Plastic Versions Of Your Favorite Holiday Plants

For many families, the Christmas holiday season isn’t complete without decorating their homes with plants and flowers such as mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, lilies, and azaleas. What you may not know is that these traditional holiday plants can be highly toxic to dogs when ingested.

Mistletoe, for instance, is usually hung high, making them inaccessible to pets. However, their fallen leaves can still cause cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems when consumed by your dog.

Holly is equally harmful to dogs. Ingesting the leaves or berries can result in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Similarly, if your pooch chews the flowers and leaves of Poinsettia by mistake, the milky white sap produced can cause skin irritation, oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.

Because of all these problems, you might want to use plastic versions of these Christmas plants to keep your canine companion safe.

5. Keep Tinsel and Other Ornaments out of Your Pet’s Reach

The shiny appearance of tinsel makes it a magnet for inquisitive cats and dogs. But when swallowed, tinsel can get balled up inside your pet’s stomach causing serious pain and intestinal blockage.

At that point, you’ll have no option but to pay for expensive surgery to remove the tinsel and save your dog’s life. Ingesting the tinsel can also cause gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea.

Other ornaments, like glass ornaments, also pose a severe safety risk to your dog. When knocked down and broken, the glasses will cut your pet’s paw pads when stepped on and cause cuts inside the mouth when swallowed. Therefore, it’s best to keep them out of reach.

Ribbons and strings of cranberries or popcorn are other harmful ornaments that you should also keep out of your dog’s reach.

6. Have a Safe Space Where Your Dog Can Retreat During Christmas Parties

Like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas parties come with loud noises and many people enter and leave the house. Such an environment isn’t good for our four-legged companions, so consider asking a trusted neighbor or friend to watch over your dog as you host the party. Alternatively, you can set up a quiet and safe space away from all that noise where your pet can retreat.

7. Beware of Toxic Gifts Under the Christmas Tree

You’re likely to receive many gifts this Christmas that are harmful to dogs, like toys, cheese, and different types of meat. If you leave your pet unsupervised around these gifts, he might end up eating human foods that aren’t good for his health.

He might also play with and swallow small toys, ribbons, and gift wrappings, leading to intestinal blockage. So, make it your responsibility to watch your dog closely around gifts under the tree so he doesn’t end up swallowing what he shouldn’t.

Remember that Christmas is a season for celebrations, so your pooch should also get a nice gift from you to show how much he means to you. Just make sure that whatever you buy is age-appropriate and safe for him.

8. Keep Toxic Christmas Treats Away From Your Dog

Lots of Christmas treats that are perfectly safe for human consumption are toxic to dogs. For example, treats sweetened with xylitol, chocolate desserts, and brownies are all toxic to your canine companion. Because of this, slipping some of these treats to your pet is a no-no.

New Year’s Eve Dog Safety Tips

The masses of people, fireworks, and parties that come with every New Year celebration drive many dogs crazy. Here are a few ways to keep your pet sane and safe this New Year’s Eve:

1. Don’t Let Your Pet Near Alcohol

As you enjoy drinks with your friends and family to celebrate the New Year, don’t forget that alcohol isn’t good for your dog. Consuming just a small amount is enough to cause significant damage to his system. If spilled drinks are on the table or floor, keep your dog away from them and clean up all spills immediately to prevent accidental alcohol poisoning. Additionally, be sure not to leave your drinks unattended so your pet can easily access them.

Spilled Martini
Spilled martini glass.

2. Protect Your Dog from Fireworks, Sirens, and Loud Music

Sirens, loud music, and fireworks are very common as people celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Unfortunately, these loud noises frighten many dogs, causing them to hide or run away. It’s your responsibility to make your pet feel safe as the big countdown begins.

Consider putting him in a quiet room where he feels safe. If you can add some white noise or soothing music to the room to block out all those scary sounds, the better.

3. Watch Your Dog Closely around Balloons

Balloons make great New Year decorations. However, they’re not good for pets. The popping sound of balloons scares many dogs. Others also see balloons as toys to be played with. They chase them down and try to chew the popped pieces or balloon ribbons.

This often leads to choking, intestinal blockage, and vomiting. It’s, therefore, very important that you watch your dog closely around balloons.

Other Considerations for Holiday Dog Safety

1. Holiday Travel and Dogs

If you plan to travel with your canine companion this holiday season, start preparing early by packing all the items you’ll need in advance. This also includes booking suitable accommodation for him early. Also, ensure that your pet has proper identification and his vaccines are up to date.

If you plan to leave him at home while vacationing, find a pet sitter early enough before the d-day arrives.

2. Dress Your Dog Appropriately for the Cold Weather

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays fall during winter when the temperatures are freezing cold. So, as you celebrate with your friends and family, remember to dress your dog warmly with sweaters, coats, and booties.

Limiting his movements outdoors is equally important to lower his chances of developing hypothermia.

3. Prepare for Holiday Pet Emergency

Lastly, you should be ready to handle any health emergency that may happen to your beloved pet during the holidays. That includes stocking up your pet’s first-aid kit and keeping it handy for emergency situations. Also, make sure you save the contact numbers of your vet and the Animal Poison Control Center on your phone just in case you need their help.

All in all, there are numerous potential dangers lurking in your home during the holiday season that can put your dog’s health and life at risk. These include many people coming in and out of your home, abundant human foods, abundant alcoholic drinks, loud noise, and gift wrappings. Hopefully, the above holiday safety tips will come in handy in keeping your pet safe and happy.