3 Steps to Protect Your Pet During the Holidays


Cary, NC — The holiday season is the most dangerous time of the year for our pets. Read on, and learn how to protect your dogs and cats from poisoning, extreme temperatures, and emotional and physical distress.

Protect Your Pet

Holiday decorations, unattended food, and cold weather all pose risks for our dogs and cats in December and January. The ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, recommends the following to protect our pets during the holiday season.

1. Decorate Safely

The decorations that fill our homes with delight and beauty during the holidays can endanger dogs and cats.

We’ve heard that poinsettia leaves can be deadly if ingested by animals–but ASPCA veterinarians have recently discovered that consumption seems to only cause upsets in digestion. Still, it’s best to keep poinsettias, along with mistletoe and holly, away from your dogs and cats.

Many cats love tinsel–after all, it’s sparkly and fun to bat around. But, if swallowed, tinsel can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, vomiting, or possible surgery. 

2. Keep Rich Food Away From Pets

It’s okay to sneak your furry friend a snack or two under the table, but watch out for dangerous holiday foods. We already know to not feed our pets chocolate, but this sweet temptation seems to spread throughout the house even more during the holidays. Make sure chocolate advent calendars and other candies are sealed and out of reach to pets.

Avoid giving your dog chicken bones or other dangerous scraps that can splinter when chewed. Fatty, spicy human food can upset pets’ stomachs or create health problems later on. To protect your pet from discomfort and your wallet from vet bills, it’s best to stick to your animal’s normal diet throughout the season.

Lastly, be sure to keep unattended holiday cocktails away from your pet. Ingesting alcohol can cause pets to become weak or ill.

3. Protect Pets From the Cold

Some pets, like Huskies, Saint Bernard’s, and certain long-haired cats, are bred for cold weather, but many are not. Always clean snow and ice from your pets’ bodies and paws after walks to prevent chills or frostbite.

If cats run free in your neighborhood, get in the habit of tapping on your car’s hood before starting it. Cats will often climb under cars or around the engine to keep warm in winter months.

Be Safe But Have Fun

Yes, the above precautions are important, but don’t feel like you have to leave your pet out of your holiday festivities. The key is to not neglect your dogs and cats (many are left alone for extra hours during the hustle and bustle of the holidays) and to pay attention to their behavior and habits.

Humans shouldn’t feel badly about depriving their animals of holiday food–after all, who wants to stop and clean up a mess during a holiday party? Instead of simply excluding your pet from holiday treats, try this homemade recipe for peanut butter dog treats.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Dog Treats

This snack is safe for doggie tummies. It’s a fun recipe for the whole family, as kids can help to stamp the dough into dog bone or holiday shapes. Recipe from The Cookie Rookie.


  • 2½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute rice or coconut flour if dogs are allergic to wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and the egg. Add peanut butter, water, honey and stir until you have stiff and sticky dough (you may need to use your hands).
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about ½ inch thick and use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes. The treats barely spread and rise, so get creative with your shapes.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes until golden.
  5. Keep in an airtight container or give as gifts.


Story and photo by Jessica Patrick.


Holiday coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Hopewell Academy in Cary.