With Christmas almost here it’s time to think about decking the halls and fetching ye olde yule log for the fire. It’s also time to give some thought to keeping your home safe for your pets during the holiday season. With all of that tinsel and all of those bobbins and bows lying around, your dog can easily eat something he shouldn’t. Glass ornaments and shiny things can be irresistible to many pets.

Vets say they have to remove tinsel and other objects from pets every year during the holidays. Here are some things to watch out for during the holidays.

Small things can be dangerous. Be careful of anything that’s small enough to fit in your pet’s mouth. At Christmas this includes plastic bags that are dangerous to pets. Pets can easily suffocate if they get their head in a bag. Watch out for ornaments and bulbs for strings of lights that you might leave lying around, too.

Hot things are dangerous such as irons, space heaters, coffee pots or anything that heats up. A curious puppy can jump up on them. It’s also a good idea to close off fireplaces with a screen when they’re in use.

Chemicals can be deadly. Use child locks on your cabinets. Don’t let your dog near disinfectants or other chemicals such as rodenticides, salts to melt snow or ice, lawn chemicals, and particularly anti-freeze. Even chemicals that say “pet safe” should be kept out of reach. If your dog spills one of these chemicals chances are that he will lick it all up.

Unsafe foods are also a no-no. Many people have parties and feasts during the holidays and that can offer some tempting – but dangerous food for dogs. If you give your dog human food, do so in moderation. Never give your dog the following foods:

  • fatty foods
  • cooked bones
  • spicy foods
  • chocolate
  • grapes and raisins
  • onions
  • xylitol (sugar substitute found in some candies and other foods)
  • macadamia nuts
  • pitted foods such as peach pits


Avoid dangerous plants. Some plants are harmful to dogs such as azaleas, lilies, oleander, daffodils, and milkweed. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are only mildly toxic and treatment is rarely necessary. But they aren’t recommended for your dog either.

If you think your dog is in danger, call your vet or an animal emergency clinic immediately.

Decorating with your dog

Decorating with a dog in the house can be challenging! Assuming you have put away all of the things that your dog can eat which might harm him, you still have to put up some holiday touches.

If you are putting up a tree and your dog keeps bothering it, there are a couple of ways to protect the tree. One recommended way to protect a tree is by putting up a small exercise pen around the base of the tree. The pen can keep most smaller dogs from getting close to the tree and knocking it down. If you have a bigger dog you might need to use a bigger pen. This can be unsightly if you are having a party in your home but it is sturdy and durable. You can buy x-pens online or at your local pet store. You can often find used x-pens for sale online.

Another method is to screw in a bolt to the tree with some fishing line and bolt it to the wall. This will keep most trees standing even if a dog jumps on the tree. Plus the fishing line and bolts won’t be seen by any visitors. The downside to this method is that the dog can get close to the tree and he might pull off some ornaments or bother the Christmas lights.

If you have a dog who pulls ornaments off the tree, try to put the ornaments, lights, and other breakable objects up higher so he won’t be able to reach them.

Keep candy, statues, centerpieces, and other decorative items that you would normally have sitting around in places where your dog can’t reach them.

When it comes to special occasion meals, consider feeding your dog first, before family and friends come over. This can reduce begging and pestering from your dog. If your dog is crate-trained you can send him to his crate for a nap during special meals. Even if your dog stays out during meals, most dogs will get tired of waiting on leftovers and find a corner to take a nap while you and your friends eat. Be sure to warn your guests about giving your dog anything to eat that might be dangerous for him.

If you keep these tips in mind while you prepare your house for the holidays, you and your dog should have a wonderful holiday season!