Keep Your Pets Safe This Season: Holiday and Winter Pet Safety - PetFirst
Keep Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season: Holiday and Winter Pet Safety
Pet Care & Health

Keep Your Pets Safe This Season: Holiday and Winter Pet Safety

by MetLife Pet Insurance
3 years ago

It’s that dragging boxes down from the attic, shiny things dangling, food smells everywhere, humans singing greetings, time of year! 

In other words, a dog’s and cat’s rollercoaster ride of a nightmare! All these sights, smells and sounds may be overstimulating to our four-legged friends, and the upheaval to their normal routine can create GRRReat stress.

It’s important to stick to your pet’s normal routine as much as possible, and to maintain some level of calm while being mindful of a few safety tips:


The tree, ornaments, candles and electric cords are all potentially dangerous to our cats and dogs.  Avoid blocking pathways with decorations, and lessen your pet’s interest by using scents they don’t like or other deterrents (sticky tape, bumpy mats, or water squirt bottles) to keep them from harm.  Cover tree water to prevent animals from lapping up toxins, tape down electric cords and never use food as decorations. 

Gifts & Wrappings

When placing packages under the tree, inquire of anyone dropping off gifts as to whether what is inside is “edible.”  Before placing something under the tree, you must know if it will be of interest to your pet. Birdseed and a feeder, scented candles or bath soaps, pet treats, fruit cake, and candies can set your fur child up for disaster if left within reach. Even if the gift itself isn’t of interest, notice if something tied in the ribbon might be – candy canes, evergreens & berries or pinecones, for instance, can send the olfactory scents into a tizzy.  


The only frosty paws your pet should have are the pet-safe frozen treats you make or buy! 

Never, ever, ever leave pets outdoors when temperatures drop. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets!  Dogs and cats should only go out in inclement weather for minimal exercise and potty breaks. Short-coated dogs may require a sweater during walks to preserve body heat. Water-proof booties can keep paws dry, prevent heat loss and keep de-icing salts from sticking to and irritating paws.  If you don’t use dog shoes, wash paws thoroughly to make sure pets won’t ingest these salts when grooming.

Antifreeze is another winter toxin, a deadly poison with a sweet taste that attracts animals when dripped on streets or garage floors. Take care to quickly wipe up spills and store antifreeze (and all household chemicals) out of paws reach. Better yet, use pet safer propylene glycol.  


Dedicate playtime BEFORE company arrives, and then let pets retreat to a quiet back bedroom with safe toys to keep them out of mischief. 

Of course, they can meet guests once they chaos settles down, but know your pets and what is comfortable for them. Pets in a room full of company can easily escape out an opened door or window, so give guests a few rules about keeping your home secure, closing doors and gates behind them. Let them know that your pets are part of your family and mean the world to you. 

Stress the importance to visitors of closing guestroom doors as well, and keeping suitcases zipped to avoid pets sniffing out medications, sugar-free gum (xylitol poisoning) or anything else that is not pet-safe.

Resist serving hors d’oeuvres with toothpicks that could be dropped and consumed by your pet, and ask company to kindly NOT feed Fluffy or Fido except for “approved” treats you make available.  Also, remind children (0-99) not to bother pets when they are eating or sleeping. Don’t set up your pet for a disaster when it’s the humans who make the mistakes.


Poinsettias have a milky white, latex sap that can irritate your pet’s tummy and mouth resulting in drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. 

Holly berries and leaves also cause similar symptoms while pinecones and pine needles can create obstructions, intestinal perforations and can also result in vomiting.

If you find Fido under the mistletoe, the ingestion of that plant could cause a drop in blood pressure and a reduced heart rate. 

As few as two leaves or petals of “true lilies” (Stargazer, Tiger, Casablanca, Asiatic and others) can cause kidney failure in cats.

There is many poisons or poisonous materials our pets can get into – no matter how diligent we are in pet-proofing the home.

If your pet gets into a poison or eats a poisonous plant or food that is dangerous for pets (like chocolate), call the vet or  Animal Poison Control Center at (855-764-7661) immediately. Let them know what your pet has eaten, how much and when.

Animal Emergency Center

During this action-packed time of year, people, decorations, tempting food and OTC medicines are in abundance, so be double-dog sure to keep dangers out of paws and claws reach, but know where to go should the worst happen.

Don’t fail your furry family member by not knowing where your nearest Animal Emergency Center is! Drive there before you need it to learn the closest route from home. Find out ahead of time what services are offered and how they accept payment so that there are no surprises.

Make sure your pet insurance is up-to-date, and that you have an emergency credit card or another way to help your pet get the care he needs when he needs it most. 

Quality Times Spent with You

It’s the most wondeRUFFul time of the year to show your animal family members how much you love them. 

Drop your purse, briefcase or backpack, get down on all fours and give a good belly rub or ear scratch. Spend time in the moment like they are with you, and let your dog or cat know each and every day, not just during the holidays, just how important they are to you. 

Here at PetFirst, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst is here for every dog and cat. From common colds to more significant health problems, pet insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits.

Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured, you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect of treatment and can just focus on your pet’s care.


Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 20,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes and books.  Learn more at

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