Paws & Claus: Are Your Pets Ready for the Holidays?

Cat and dog with santa hat

Holiday season is finally here. Soon, family and friends will gather to fellowship and share a meal. You and your home are holiday-party ready, but what about your pets? How much thought have you given to how well your dog or cat will handle your holiday gatherings?

Let’s set up your pets for success this holiday season!

Although, there are some general rules that apply to both cats and dogs, there are also some notable differences. Let us share with you tips that will ready your pets for the holidays.


Preserving your dog’s routine is essential to minimizing your dog’s stress. When that isn’t possible, follow these tips:

#1 – Monitor Potential Safety Hazards.

Holiday decor, electrical cords and plates of food can pose great safety hazards for pets. So keep an eye out and eliminate your dog’s access.

#2 – Consider Preventative Training.

The holidays can be especially stressful, easily over-stimulating your dogs. We recommend brushing up on common commands like “sit” and training in polite greeting behaviors to prevent unnecessary front door stress for your guests and your pet.

Dogs inside Christmas-themed box

#3 – Create a Safe Haven.

The influx of visitors in your home can cause great anxiety in dogs. One way to address this is to create a safe space for your dog with a pet bed and blankets. (Bonus Tip: If preventative training was not an option, consider crating.)

#4 – Provide Plenty of Water.

Higher anxiety increases a dog’s thirst. So, keeping plenty of water available will do wonders.

#5 – Strictly Monitor Your Pets with Kids.

You should never leave your dog alone with kids—even your own. Highly stressful situations can cause unpredictable behavior.

#6 – Avoid Visiting Pets.

Simply put, let your pets be the only animals at the party.

#7 – When in Doubt, Crate.

We all consider our pets as part of the family, but holiday parties can cause a considerable amount of stress, anxiety and hyperactivity in your pets. Confining them to a room or a crate will not only prevent this, but will keep them out of harm’s way.


Unlike dogs, most of holiday preparedness for cats consists of preparing your guests for your cat.

#1 – Are Your Guests Allergic?

Having your cat groomed before your guests arrive can be very effective for guests with cat allergies. Thoroughly cleaning your house—vacuuming rugs and carpets, dusting and cleaning floors–is also a good strategy.

#2 – Limit Access.

Limiting your cat’s access to the parts of the house where your guests are gathered is another effective tool to dealing with possible cat allergies.

Cat lying around with Christmas decorations

#3 – Give Your Guests a Crash Course.

No one knows your cat better than you. Before your guests arrive, make a point to educating them on your cat’s personality and temperament. Preparing everyone for your pet’s habits, routine and behavior will ensure minimal disturbance to your cat and your guests.

#4 – Relocate Litter Box.

It is quite possible that holiday guests will disrupt your cat’s routine and scare him away from his litter box. Relocating the litter box is a simple solution with a not-so-simple execution. Days before your holiday party, begin to move the litter box 1 to 3 feet every day until it is moved where you want it.  

Holiday Pet Safety 

Pomeranian wearing pilgrim outfitThere are also specific safety hazards particular to certain holidays. Check out these safety tips for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah.

 Holiday Safety Tips - Thanksgiving

  • Keep feeding holiday food to a minimum. Smalls amount of food may be okay, but keep in mind that feeding your pet human food can easily create stomach upset.
  • Turkey bones can become a choking hazard and can also cut their mouth and throat.
  • Be sure to seal your trash bags. There is an abundance of safety hazards in the garbage, even more so during the holidays. So, make sure your pets do not have access to your trash cans.

For more Thanksgiving pet safety tips, visit Pet MD’s Wishbones, Candles, and Schedule Changes Post Thanksgiving Pet Danger.

Holiday Safety Tips - Christmas

  • Anchor Christmas trees to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from falling.
  • Encircle your Christmas tree and gifts with an exercise pen
  • Tinsel, popcorn strands, garland and other Christmas tree decorations can become choking hazards.
  • Wrapping accessories like ribbons and string can also cause choking and strangulation.
  • For natural Christmas trees, water at the base can contain anti-freeze and other additives that can be deadly to your dog.

For more Christmas pet safety tips, check out Pet MD’s Pet Safety Tips for the Holidays.

Holiday Safety Tips - Hanukkah

  • Because tradition dictates that the candles burn out themselves, Menorah candles can pose a great safety hazard.
  • Dreidels can become choking hazards. Be sure to keep them out of your pet’s reach.
  • Chocolate coins are highly toxic to dogs so make sure to keep that candy dish far out of the reach of your pooches! The meal foil can also cause gastrointestinal problems.
  • Latkes—made with potatoes, eggs, and onion, fried in oil and covered with sour cream—are delicious, but can be toxic for your pet and can upset your pet’s digestive tract.
  • How can you go wrong with jelly or custard-filled fried dough sprinkled in powdered sugar? Hanukkah doughnuts can cause vomiting, decreased appetite and diarrhea in your pets. More severe health conditions like pancreatitis are also possible.

For more Hanukkah pet safety tips, check out Pet MD’s Top Five Pet Safety Tips for Hanukkah.

With these tips, we hope that you and your pets have a safe holiday season, Now, your pets are holiday-ready!

Bonus Tips:

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Holiday Food Stains | 4 Cleaning Solutions

5 Cleaning Tips to Make Your Home Holiday Party-Ready

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