As we venture in to that time of year when seasonal good cheer begins to manifest at the forefront of our minds, it’s worth the effort to remind ourselves of some of the hidden dangers that could turn our dog’s festive spirits decidedly sour.

Take a look at this list of things to think about over the winter holiday period as they might apply to your own circumstances. Some are hopefully things that you already know but others might just surprise you:


  • Too much sodium can kill animals, so if you are going to give your pet some of your leftover Christmas dinner, make sure it isn’t covered in salt or gravy.
  • Chocolate is poisonous to dogs: keep your tins of chocolate covered up and don’t put up chocolate tree decorations that your dog can reach.
    Cocktail sticks can get eaten by dogs and cats and end up stuck in their throats or puncture their gut. Be careful what you serve and be careful where you keep party food and rubbish.
  • Mesh that covers your roast meat is often hastily discarded after removing the joint from the oven. If it is left to lie in meat juices it can be gobbled up by cats or dogs when your back is turned. Mesh can cause severe damage to the gut and cause bloat, which is often fatal if medical attention is not sought immediately.


  • Fir trees are poisonous to cats, and cats also like to bite and eat tinsel. Cats, dogs and small mammal pets can bite through wires so be sure to tuck your Christmas tree lights away safely.
  • Holly, ivy, poinsettias and mistletoe are all poisonous to pets.


  • Always supervise dogs with children – no matter how well you think you know your dog and trust it, over-excited children plus all the changes going on in your dog’s surroundings can make even a calm dog snap.
  • Many vet practices are closed over the Christmas period. Before they close, make a note of their emergency service number in case you need it urgently.

Finally, remember that there undoubtedly will be fireworks let off on New Year’s Eve at midnight in your local area. If your pet is of a nervous disposition then make sure it is kept near you so that you can offer lots of reassurance, and bring all outdoor pets inside.

Bonus: How To Create a Dog Friendly Christmas Tree

Creating a Christmas tree that is both beautiful to look at for you and unattractive to your dog is a special challenge. Here are some suggestions to keep your tree pet-friendly.

1. Tree water at the base of live trees can be harmful if preservative chemicals have been added to prolong the life of the tree. Keep your dog from drinking the water by covering the tree basin with foil or a tree skirt.

2. Place dog-safe ornaments near the bottom of the tree in case your dog decides to use the ornaments as playthings.

3. Tie up loose electrical cords of the lights used to decorate the tree and keep them concealed by attaching them with wire or cord to the trunk of the tree. End-to-end lights eliminate individual cords dangling from the tree that might entice your dog to chew them.

4. If you have lots of tree lights that are not end to end, purchase a power strip in which to plug the lights. Attach the strip to the tree trunk at a level that is higher than the height of your dog. As a result, you will have only one heavy-duty power cord running from the tree to the outlet instead of several flimsy cords from single strings of lights.

5. To prevent your dog from knocking over your holiday tree, anchor it with cord or wire to the ceiling directly above the tree’s trunk. Don’t attach it with wire to a wall behind the tree because your dog could get caught in the wire if be darts behind the tree.

6. Spray the tower branches of the tree with bitter apple, cinnamon, lemon, eucalyptus, or other unappealing scents.

7. Hang your ornaments with ribbons rather than hooks to keep your dog from accidentally swallowing something that could get lodged in his throat.

8. Do not use tinsel or angel hair on your tree. Angel hair, made of glass fibre, and tinsel, made of metal, can cause internal damage if your dog swallows any.

9. Avoid decorating your tree with strings of berries or other edible ornaments – many are harmful if swallowed. The string on which they are attached can cause damage to your dog’s intestines if swallowed, and a dog, eager to get to the “treats,” could knock over the tree.

10. If you like, decorate a small, artificial tree for your dog with items he will find appealing, such as doggie biscuits and dog toys. Hide the tree until you are ready for your dog to open his presents.

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