Wednesday, February 8, 2023

‘Tis the Season for Pet Safety

In the midst of the holiday season, it is important for pet owners to keep the health and safety of their animals in mind when celebrating and reuniting with loved ones. Eating accidents and decoration mishaps can both occur during the excitement of incoming guests and joyous festivities. Here are some of the most common problematic situations associated with the holidays and how they can be prevented. 

Food Misfortunes

Delicious meals for humans come with a negative side for pets. According to Mikaela Boudreau, the operations manager of PAWS of Coronado, “The most common accidents for pets around the winter holidays involve consuming unsafe items.”

Whether these items are toxic or result in blockage or injury to your pet if digested, some holiday foods are harmful to our companions. The following should be avoided at all costs.

  • Coffee or caffeine
  • Cooked animal bones
  • Bread dough
  • Animal skin
  • Turkey fat, gravy, or stuffing
  • Dishes containing onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, or butter
  • Desserts, candy, or foods with artificial sweeteners
  • Seasonal spices including nutmeg

According to the San Diego Humane Society, “If you really want to share some of the meal with your pets, and they have no known food allergies or history of stomach sensitivity, save a small amount of lean white turkey meat (with no skin, bones or fat).” It’s best to serve it to them in their usual bowl as well so they don’t learn that they’ll get fed by waiting under the table.

Along with dangers during the meal, there are precautions humans should take afterwards, too. Keep food and trash out of reach from your furry friends. This will prevent them from ingesting something unwanted and avoiding a mess!

Decoration Mishaps 

From Christmas trees to holiday plants, there are a variety of decorations that can be seen throughout the home during the winter season. This opens up numerous opportunities for pets to cause trouble and possibly endanger themselves and others. The following items are common causes of accidents and should be kept on close watch when in proximity to your pet.

  • Pine needles
  • Decorations such as tinsel or ribbon
  • Small toys and batteries
  • Electric wires such as with Christmas lights and extension cords
  • Holiday candles

Boudreau advises that “decorations of these types should not be left on with unattended pets who could electrocute or burn themselves.”

Dangerous holiday plants include the following:

  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Christmas cactus
  • Poinsettias 
Holly can be dangerous to pets if ingested.


The arrival of extended families and guests are traditionally one of the highlights of the holidays. If you are planning to host friends or relatives this year (socially distanced of course), ensure that visitors know each pet’s boundaries and how to respect them. Allow some time for animals and people to become acquainted, and advise your visitors to keep their bags off of the floor so pets do not have an opportunity to get into trouble. Educating your guests on holiday dangers and what to avoid is also beneficial to a joyous holiday. 

The San Diego Humane Society also suggests asking your company to avoid sharing food with your pets. This will prevent future begging and the possibility of ingesting a harmful substance. 

Supervision is the Name of the Game

According to Boudreau, “If anything dangerous is in your holiday environment, pets need to be properly supervised.” These situations can be avoided in two ways.

  1. Only decorate, cook, and celebrate in pet friendly ways with pet friendly materials.
  2. Ensure that pets have appropriate supervision when holiday decorations, foods, and guests enter their environment. 

If you decide to leave your pets at home unattended, they should be separated from dangerous items. Decorations should be turned off, unplugged, or kept away in a safe space. Pets have innate curiosity and the capacity to easily find trouble. It is our duty as caretakers to create a safe environment for all. 

by PAWS of Coronado

Be Mindful of Your Pet

The excitement of guests, decorations, and activities can cause your pet to feel stressed or apprehensive. The San Diego Humane Society suggests providing your furry friend a quiet place to retreat in an enclosed room with their favorite toys or bed to give them the option to step away from the excitement if necessary. 

Perhaps one of the most important thoughts to keep in mind during the holidays is to maintain your pet’s usual routine. This includes mealtime, exercise, and play. Even if your schedule might be a little off because of the holidays, do not neglect your pets.

“To the best of your ability, it is important to maintain your normal feeding and exercise schedules; it is helpful for our pets when their routines are not interrupted, especially when they are experiencing added stressors,” Boudreau shared.

If celebrated in a pet-friendly, safe, and controlled environment, the holidays can be a blast for animals and humans alike. 

Paws of Coronado
1395 1st Street, Coronado, CA 92118

San Diego Humane Society
5500 Gaines Street, San Diego, CA 92110

Bella Villarin
Bella Villarin
Bella is a proud military brat who has been a resident of Coronado since 2015. She was born in Japan, and after a short stay in Virginia, traveled extensively throughout Asia while living in Singapore and picking up another language. A junior at Coronado High School, Bella can be found at the driving range or golf course when not in school, studying, writing, playing the guitar, or spending time with her family. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]