Holiday Safety Tips for your Pet

With the holidays in full swing, there’s lots of fun and excitement all around. As Andy Williams once crooned, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!” However, in order to make sure that this festive season is both a happy and a safe one, take a few moments to view it from the perspective of your four-legged family members. What is merely a change of pace or a holiday tradition, can be a bit overwhelming for someone who stands only a foot or two off the ground or can’t check their calendar from a smartphone.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for your pet’s safety and overall well-being during the holiday months…

Keep to your pet’s feeding routine as well as diet as normal as possible. Extra cookies, cake, and pie may tend to add a few holiday pounds to your waistline, but for your dog, the weight gain presents an extra risk, especially for smaller dogs or senior ones.

Be aware of the dangerous items accompany your Christmas decorations. Examples include pine needles, garland, tinsel, wrapping paper and bows, even plastic lights.

Like people, some dogs love being around new people or don’t mind the ruckus caused by little ones running and playing about. However, many pets may feel uncomfortable or even threatened when their surroundings become too crowded. A normally well-behaved dog may uncharacteristically nip or even bite as a warning to stay away. Be on the look out for your pet becoming too stresses or anxious around guests.

New toys for young kids can be especially unsettling to a pet who is accustomed to relative peace and quiet. And that goes for big people toys nowadays in the age of remote control gadgets, voice-activated home systems and anything that beeps or moves.

The cold weather can also be problematic for pets. Their cold tolerance can vary based on coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. a good idea is to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather. Arthritic and elderly pets may also be more adversely affected and prone to difficulties walking on snow and ice. Though some breeds have long hair or thick coats, they are still at risk in cold weather. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster because they have less protection, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes. [source:]

Though it is a good idea to make sure your dog has an ID tag, now is as good a time as any to double-check that is has accurate information like your phone number and is fitted securely. If your dogs becomes separated, chasing them through icy neighborhoods or through the snow is that much tougher in the winter.

Take extra care to clean up puddles of antifreeze in your garage or driveway. And give your pet a good wipe down after they come in from a walk. In 2012, manufacturers voluntarily agreed to add a bittering agent to antifreeze, but pet owners should still take precautions. The Humane Society advocates switching to a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol; although it’s safer than ethylene glycol antifreeze, propylene glycol antrifreeze is still toxic.


The ASPCA has provided the following cold weather safety tips: [source:]

  • Repeatedly coming out of the cold into the dry heat of your home can cause itchy, flaking skin. Keep your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he comes inside, paying special attention to his feet and in-between the toes. Remove any snow balls from between his foot pads.
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  • Bring a towel on long walks to clean off stinging, irritated paws. After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes.
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Washing too often can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask your vet to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse.
  • Massaging petroleum jelly or other paw protectants into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly ice melts whenever possible.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry.
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

With New Year’s coming up very soon, be extra aware of those noise-makers that may upset your pet. And we wary of streamers or confetti which may fall to the floor. dogs love to put just about anything in their mouths.

Please have a safe and happy holiday season and make sure your dog does too!


Cold Weather Pet Safety [American Veterinary Medical Association]
Cold Weather Safety Tips [ASPCA]
7 Ways Cold Weather Can Affect Your Dog [PetMD]
Antifreeze Is a Sweet but Deadly Poison for Pets [Humane Society]


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