Pet behavior and holiday guests 

  • Though the excitement of a party may overwhelm some pets, keep your pets inside during cold weather and provide plenty of toys to keep them busy.

  • If needed, provide your cat or dog with a quiet room or crate during holiday parties and/or prepare ahead of time to discourage barking.

  • Inform your visitors ahead of time that you have a pet.  

Skip the table scrap snacks: Foods not to feed pets

Little girl feeding a dog table scraps from her holiday dinner
  • Bones: Bones easily splinter and can cause serious health problems (even death) for your pet.

  • Candy: Particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol.  

  • Chives

  • Citrus and pits: Keep foods containing citric acid away from your pets. Foods such as cherry pits, peach pits and apple seeds contain essential oils that have the ability to cause irritations, blockages and even central nervous system depression if a significant amount is ingested.

  • Coffee: Grounds, beans and chocolate-covered espresso beans.

  • Eggs (raw or undercooked) 

  • Fish (raw or undercooked)

  • Garlic

  • Grapes and raisins: These can cause kidney problems.

  • Leaves and stems: From vegetables such as tomatoes. 

  • Meat (raw or undercooked)

  • Nuts

  • Onions, as well as onion flakes and powder

  • Salt

  • Trash: Pets who engage in trash-digging can accidentally eat foods that are potentially poisonous to them. Keep trash in tightly sealed containers or hidden somewhere your pet can't access.

You can protect dogs who live outdoors

Commit to supporting dogs who live outdoors during cold weather by advocating to ensure that every dog has access to a shelter that keeps them warm enough and provides protection from the elements.

Sad dog chained outside in the cold snow.

Deck the halls: Holiday decorations and pets 

  • Christmas trees and holiday greens: Make sure your dogs or cats do not chew on limbs or droppings from the tree. Ingested pine needles could get lodged in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining or bunching together and causing an intestinal obstruction.

  • Water base: The water base of a Christmas tree may contain dangerous chemicals that could harm your pet.

  • Christmas lights and tinsel: Position your tree's lights and tinsel away from the bottom of the tree where pets can reach them. Some pets climb up or into trees and can even knock them over.

  • Candles: Don’t leave candles unattended. Pets may accidentally knock them over and spill wax or start a fire.

  • Firestarter logs: Dogs that enjoy chewing should steer clear; these logs contain sawdust and paraffin which can cause an irritated stomach or even intestinal blockage when ingested.

  • Plants: A number of seasonal plants are poisonous to pets if nibbled or eaten, including ivy, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias.

By sleigh or sea: Holiday travel and pets 

  • Carefully consider whether to take your pet with you on a trip (air travel can be dangerous).

  • If you leave your pets home while you travel, be sure to choose a pet sitter or boarding kennel wisely.

  • Wherever your pets spend the holidays, dogs and cats should all wear collars and tags with ID that offer a way to reach you.

Learn How to Travel Safely with Your Pets

    In case of emergency

    • Identify your closest 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before an emergency occurs.
    • Write down or store in your phone the number for your veterinarian or pet hospital
    • Research and write down your pet hospital or clinic's holiday hours.
    • Write down or store in your phone the number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435. Note that a consultation fee may apply.