Holiday Safety Tips
In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to forget that the festivities can be
stressful and even dangerous for pets. This holiday season, the PetSmart veterinary team is
offering pet parents some timely tips for making sure their pets stay safe and healthy.
PetSmart Pet Experts are available for interviews.
Deck the halls with tape and cord covers, fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la. Holiday lights mean
extra electrical cords and plugs. To household pets, these items can present quite tempting
“chew toys.” Taking an extra minute or two during decorating to tape down or cover cords
will help prevent shocks, burns or more serious injuries.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how anchored are your branches? Christmas trees
are sure to attract a pet’s attention. Secure Christmas trees to keep them from toppling over if
a pet should try to climb them, use them as a scratching post or simply bump into them.
Anchoring the top of the tree to the ceiling with a strong cord will help keep it in place around
frolicking pets. Keep tinsel decorations high on the tree. Cats are inclined to eat tinsel hanging
from trees, with the potential for causing an intestinal obstruction.
Bells are ringing, children singing… pets need a quiet place to retreat. During holiday
parties, pets may not understand why their usually quiet home is filled with people and noise.
Provide pets with a quiet place to retreat. This way, they can choose whether to come out and
visit or keep to themselves, helping them be more at ease.
I'll be home for Christmas. . . if I have an ID. Keep an eye on pets when doors are opening
and closing frequently. And all pets should wear ID tags because they easily can slip out in all
of the commotion.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… aren’t good for pets. Pet parents often think they’re
“treating” their pets with table scraps from their holiday meals. The danger, say PetSmart
veterinarians, is that dogs do not have the same digestive system or nutritional needs as
people. Products like turkey-flavored rawhide are made especially for pets and make a safe,
appropriate holiday treat. Chocolate contains the heart stimulant theobromine, and in small
quantities can be toxic to dogs and cats, causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures,
rapid and irregular heartbeats, muscle tremors, comas and, in large quantities, even death.
Oh by gosh, by golly, don't let them eat mistletoe and holly. Mistletoe, holly berries and
poinsettia plants can be poisonous to pets, causing severe upset stomachs. Pine needles can
puncture holes in a pet’s intestine and create an emergency visit to the vet. Repellent sprays
help keep pets away from areas and objects that may cause them harm.
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. With a sweater on, I'm just delightful. For the most
part, pets should stay warm and indoors during the cold winter months. Smaller dogs may not
adjust as well to the weather change, so pet parents may consider heating pads or sweaters to
keep their pets comfortable. Pet parents can ask their vet for good ideas on "winterizing" pets.
Do you smell what I smell? As winter approaches, many people get their cars ready by
changing the antifreeze. However, many pet parents don’t realize how dangerous contact with
antifreeze can be for pets – dogs are attracted to antifreeze spills by its sweet smell and taste.
Antifreeze poisoning is one of the most common among dogs. Prevention is key: when
changing the coolant in your car, clean up all spills immediately. Be sure the antifreeze
container is securely closed. And, address a leaking radiator right away.
Over the river and through the woods… for families and pets on the go. Pet parents
boarding pets during the holiday travel season should look for facilities that are clean, with a
friendly staff and strict policies on health and safety issues. Visit the facility ahead of time,
meet the staff, check the cleanliness, confirm that the facility has 24-hour supervision and an
For pet parents traveling with their pets, research can be done in advance to find hotels that
accept pets. AAA offers a travel guidebook with this information. Here are some additional
tips for travel:
Visit your veterinarian within 10 days of departure to make sure your pet is healthy
and current on vaccinations. Remember to get a copy of the pet’s health records from
the vet, most airlines and boarding facilities require proof of immunization/vaccination
and if necessary, an interstate Health Certificate.
Many products are available to keep pets safe in the car, including car harnesses and
barriers for SUVs that keep pets in the back of the vehicle. For air travel, there are
several different kinds of airline-approved carriers and crates.
Because travel can be a stressful experience, always have plenty of water available for
pets. High stress levels and little water can accelerate dehydration. If your pet is
unusually anxious, talk to your vet about prescription or over-the-counter relaxants
that may help keep him or her calm for the trip.
Whether you're staying at home playing host to friends and neighbors this season, or traveling
across country to spend the holiday with loved ones, your family's health and safety is
important. Following these tips will help keep your four-legged family members safe and