The holiday season is in full swing! In order to celebrate the festivities and keep everyone safe and healthy, it’s important to keep our pets’ care and well-being top of mind.

Here are some important safety tips to remember this holiday season to ensure it is merry and bright for all members of your family.

Keep the goodies on the table.

We all love latkes a lot-ke and candy gelt is always a classic – but you can make your challah-days extra happy by keeping treats like these away from your pets! Many foods on any holiday table can be toxic to animals, including chocolate, onions, garlic, raisins, sage, artificial sweeteners, and alcoholic beverages. Likewise, fried foods can be hard for animals to digest, leading to stomach upset. Meats like turkey and ham also contain sharp bones and fatty pieces that can cause unexpected ER visits due to abdominal obstructions or potentially serious illnesses like pancreatitis.

So, keep the holiday feasts to yourself and other loved humans, and continue to monitor unattended dishes for sneaky scamps seeking a snack. Also, make sure those stockings are hung back by the fire with care and that trash is tied up and out of the way of curious noses looking for scraps, wrappers, and other discarded food waste.

Click here for other foods that may be harmful or toxic to companion animals. If you suspect your pet has eaten a harmful food or substance, note the amount and contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.

Prevent a decorating disaster.

While holiday décor can make our human hearts sing and fill our homes with joy, make sure that your festive embellishments are not a danger to your animal residents! Many plants – such as poinsettias, mistletoe, holly berries, and amaryllis – should stay out of reach of pets. If live trees are included in your decorating style, keep their bases covered, as tree water with sap can prove toxic to animals who may not see it as any different from what’s in their own bowl. Experts also suggest bringing your tree into your house and keeping it in a different room for a day or two before introducing it to your pet. This process discourages unwanted marking behaviors by giving the tree time to smell more like your pet’s environment.

If you celebrate with menorah, kinara, advent, or other holiday candles, make sure that all pets, including any avian friends, are safe, sound, and secure before lighting to prevent injuries and fire. Tinsel, small hooks from decked halls, low-hanging ornaments, and even gifts can also be tempting to chew or swallow. Make sure your pet’s areas are free of hazards and ready for unincumbered holiday play!

There’s no place like home for the holidays.

If you’re hosting the holidays in your own home, remember that this time of year can be stressful for our pets too. Meeting new people and having a house full of folks and strange sounds can cause our animals to feel anxious and overstimulated. Always be an advocate for your pet around children, other animals, and during introductions. Additionally, give your pet breaks by making sure they have a quiet, private space away from the activity that they can retreat to when needed (and maybe where you can join them if you need some down time, too!). Click here for additional ways to help relieve your pet’s stress and support their comfort during the holidays and year-round.

Additionally, with people coming in and out of the house throughout the day, there is a higher likelihood during the holidays of your pet darting out the door in a flash! Animals can also easily be frightened by celebratory noises, like cheers and fireworks erupting at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Keep an eye on your pet and consider kenneling them or keeping them in a closed room until the whole party has arrived (or the get-together has ended). Very anxious pets may also benefit from fewer (or no) guests, as well as prescription medication and other calming options, like pressure shirts and wraps.

Finally, be sure your pet has updated identification tags and a microchip ID in case of a mad dash. This will keep them safe and give anyone who finds them the best chance of locating you. With crowds, it’s always best to leave our smallest friends, like hamsters or guinea pigs, safely in their enclosures in a quiet room.

Over the river and through the woods.

Bringing your animal friend with you to the celebration? Prepare your pet for the trip by packing their medications, food, and favorite toys. If you’re driving to your destination, it’s important to safely restrain animals whenever your vehicle is moving in case of an accident. Likewise, you should always avoid leaving your pet in an unattended car, even for a short period of time. Travel crates, familiar blankets, and lots of loving reassurance can help reduce travel anxiety for your furry passenger.

If you’ll be boarding this holiday season, make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and preventative care in order to safeguard against illnesses that can easily spread. This winter, there is a new canine upper respiratory disease going around, and veterinarians are recommending that people only take their pups to places (i.e., boarding facilities, veterinary clinics, dog parks) where vaccines are required. Read here for more tips from the League on protecting your dog (and other dogs) from this recent illness.

With a bit of careful forethought, the holiday season can be fun and safe for everyone, including our beloved animal friends. From our Dumb Friends League family to yours, we wish you a warm, happy, and very healthy holiday season!

Are you interested in giving an animal the GIFT OF HOME for the holidays? Until December 31, our three shelters are offering 50% off adoption fees for any adult cat or dog (1 year+). Share comfort and joy this year with your new best friend!