The holiday season spanning Thanksgiving to New Year’s is one of the most joyful, exciting times of the year. But it can be fraught with hazards for your furry friends. Check out these tips to help keep them safe and prevent an emergency trip to the vet.

Tell Guests You Have a Dog

If you have guests coming over, make sure to let them know ahead of time that you have a dog, especially if it’s a new pet or if they haven’t visited your house before. As wonderful as dogs are, some people are scared or allergic. They may need to take extra precautions, such as by bringing allergy medication or asking you to keep your dog in a separate room.

If the guests have young kids, they may also need to teach their kids how to be safe around dogs prior to coming over. Over 50% of the time, a child is the victim of a dog bite. This is an unfortunate statistic, so make sure to work together with your guests to ensure everyone knows what to do to stay safe.

On the other hand, perhaps a guest will want to bring their own dog. If you aren’t sure how the pets will get along, politely decline or spend some time supervising the pets to help them get acclimated to each other.

Avoid Feeding Your Dog Table Scraps

Many foods can be dangerous for dogs, so make sure you and your guests are on the safe page about keeping people food off-limits. Some foods to be particularly careful to avoid include:

  • Bones
  • Turkey and turkey skin
  • Candy, especially chocolate
  • Coffee grounds and beans
  • Citrus
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Onions
  • Raw eggs
  • Alcoholic beverages

The above foods are toxic to dogs, and many other human foods aren’t particularly good for dogs either. It’s best to err on the side of caution and only feed your pets the foods they normally eat. If you want to feed your dog something special to celebrate, you can always buy or make holiday-themed dog treats.

If you think your dog has been poisoned or eaten something they shouldn’t have, call your vet or local animal hospital right away. You might also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at  (888) 426-4435

Provide a Safe Place for Escape

A loud holiday party may overwhelm your dog and lead to barking or aggressive behavior caused by stress. Prepare a quiet room or crate for your pet to escape the excitement. If you know your dog is anxious or easily excitable, you may want to put them in another room preemptively. Make sure to leave food, water, toys, and a bed in that room, so your dog can stay comfortable.

Though parties can be overwhelming for dogs, be sure not to put your furry friend outside during cold weather. It’s best to have a quiet, comfortable indoor space for your dog to relax. This is especially important to remember on New Year’s Eve, when fireworks and other loud noises might scare dogs.

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

Between the pine needles, glass lights, wires, and tinsel, Christmas trees can be quite dangerous for dogs. Be sure to avoid leaving your pet unattended with a Christmas tree, and keep all decorations out of reach. Plastic Christmas lights are safer than glass, and small or breakable ornaments should be above your dog’s reach or in a separate room they can’t get into. Also keep in mind that the water in the tree stand often contains bacteria or chemicals that could make your dog sick, so don’t let them drink out of it.

The same goes for candles and holiday plants like poinsettias, holly, or mistletoe: don’t leave your pet alone with these decorations. Candles should never be left unattended in general; having a dog loose around them greatly increases the risk of a fire. And these popular holiday plants can be toxic to pets.

Clean Up Quickly

Dogs are notorious for eating things they shouldn’t. Wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue paper, and other materials used to wrap gifts, can actually be dangerous to dogs if ingested. They can be a choking hazard or cause digestive issues. Instead of letting your furry friend play with the gift wrappings for an extended period of time, consider giving them their own stocking full of dog toys to ensure safe Christmas morning play time.

Additionally, make sure to clean up food right after a party or gathering and dispose of the trash somewhere your dog can’t get to it.

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