How to Keep Pets Safe and Healthy During the Holidays

The holidays are fun and exciting, but they can also quickly become overwhelming and chaotic. Those emotions are only magnified for dogs and other pets who have only a basic understanding of what’s going on around them. Add extra people, loud noises, and new food and smells to the mix, and that holiday fun can quickly become something filled with anxiety and stress.

On top of that, family members who don’t have dogs might not know that certain foods are toxic to a pup’s system. That means there’s a chance your favorite fur babies could get sick if they’re given these foods (or if they happen to snatch them off a plate when no one is looking).

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to ensure your pups have a good holiday season. All it takes is a little extra thought and your dogs will be safe, happy, healthy, and enjoying the festivities right with you.

Foods to Avoid

This one is easy. Make sure your family members know which foods are not dog friendly by either telling them or putting out a sign. Keep items with these ingredients away from dogs at all times — especially in crowded rooms where all the activity might mean your pup feels he or she can sneak off with a snack. Better yet, try to make items that don’t have these items in them, thereby ensuring safe holidays for all.

Dogs should not consume any of these items:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli (small amounts are okay, large quantities can upset the stomach)
  • Caffeine
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Ham
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Nutmeg
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Salt
  • Seeds or fruit pits
  • Spicy foods
  • Sugar-free gum or candy
  • Yeast or raw dough
  • Sugar free products containing Xylitol (also known as Birch Sugar)

If dogs do happen to get into these items, call your vet immediately. Some items will make them mildly sick, but others could be fatal even in small doses. The severity depends on the item, the size of the dog, and how much was consumed, but it’s best to be safe and seek medical attention.

Cats are better at not eating many of these items, however, there are some who will try. With cats, be aware of possible toxic plants that can make your cat sick, many tend to chew on leaves.

Festivities to Watch Out For

Loud noises create stress for dogs, especially yelling, loud music, and fireworks. These can be staples of the holiday season, however, and many celebrations are filled with watching sporting events, playing games, singing, or fireworks displays. Being introduced to strangers, immersed in large groups of people, or thrown in to play with strange dogs just adds to the internal chaos, as does visiting an unfamiliar home with unfamiliar scents.

Be mindful of how your dog normally handles these situations and have solutions at the ready to ensure he or she can get some peace.

Tips to Minimize Stress

Every dog is different, and some handle the chaos of the holiday with ease. Others are easily stressed out by the noises, smells, movements of guests, and more, and it’s important to keep an eye on how they’re doing to ensure things don’t get too crazy.

If you sense that your dog needs some TLC, consider these stress-relieving options:

  • Take a deep breath. Your dog picks up on your stress levels, so keeping your anxiety down will help him or her stay calm, too.

  • Sit down with him or her. The hustle might make it seem like you can’t take a break, but sitting down with your dog for a few minutes might be all he or she needs to get back in balance.

  • Keep your pup in his or her crate. Some dogs consider their crates to be safe places. If this is the case for your dog, consider letting him or her spend some time in theirs to reduce anxiety.

  • Remove your pup from the ruckus. Take him or her to the other end of the house. The simple act of reducing noise and visual stimulation goes a long way toward creating peace.

  • Put on relaxing music. There are plenty of free options on YouTube, and soothing classical music will help reduce stress levels. Avoid tracks with nature sounds as these can be distracting.

  • Go for a walk. Stress creates bottled energy, and a walk helps release that tension. Your pup will likely have to do his or her business in the middle of the festivities anyway, and getting a little exercise might also mean he or she can lay down and sleep, even in the middle of the chaos.

  • Consider therapeutic products. At Healers, we’re proud to offer Therapeutic & Anxiety Body Wraps in both front and rear They’re designed for a lot of things and come in a variety of sizes to fit very pup, hugging close to the fur to reduce anxiety and provide stress relief. The washable, reusable wraps have myriad other functions, including post-surgical care in place of a cone, as a bandage to hold gauze inserts in place, or to reduce swelling with hot or cold packs.

Keeping your pup’s anxiety levels in mind will help ensure the holidays are happy for every member of your family. Only you know what your fur baby needs to help keep stress at bay. It’s important to understand the potential threats, do everything you can to minimize problems, then have fun! Your pup knows when you’re enjoying yourself, and he or she can’t wait to celebrate with you.

Make sure your pet has the proper identification in the event it gets lost.

Have your regular veterinarian hospital and pet emergency hospital information posted in a visible place. 

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435  

Be sure to share pet hospital information with pet sitters. Always leave a authorization for care note with a pet sitter that outlines the scope of treatment they are able to request for your pet on your behalf in case you are unreachable.


Wishing you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season! Enjoy the festivities! 

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