how to have a safe and merry christmas with pets

There's the good food and the festive parties… There are friends coming and going and excited children who eagerly await their Christmas gifts. With all this delight it has to be asked – where do pets fit in?

Well, the short answer is: Right in the middle!

As part of your family; your cat, dog, rabbit or fish should be firmly in your mind this Christmas.

Pets ready for Christmas festivities!

Often, pets that are gifted as Christmas presents find themselves abandoned in the New Year. The UK charity Dog's Trust coined the phrase 'A dog is for life not just for Christmas'. This slogan was created in 1978 but it still remains true to this day!

If you are considering adopting a pet at Christmas you might want to wait until the New Year. Adopting a pet on behalf of a child at Christmas time can be risky. The lucky child will be overexcited about the pet, the food, the visitors and of course other gifts.

How will a little girl react when her new puppy chews the leg off her new doll? And how will a young boy play with both his new cat and his remote control car?

Not to mention that the parents of these children will have to juggle a new family pet and make sure that Christmas dinner is on the table in time.


Christmas activities can be distracting so you must try your hardest to feed your pet appropriate food and limit unhealthy table scraps. You can stuff yourself all you want with chocolate, gingerbread and salty nuts but make sure they can't be reached by your pooch!

The digestive system of dogs and cats can’t handle a lot of human foods. This is especially true of the following:

  • Onion
  • Ham & bacon
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Cooked bones
  • High-salt and high-fat foods
Freshly baked Christmas Reindeer Cookies

Freshly baked Christmas Reindeer Cookies - Image Courtesy of christmasstockimages.com

Also be aware that the lovely bunch of flowers that you receive from a friend could be toxic to your furry friend. There are a few plants that are seen around Christmas time that should not be ingested by your cat or dog.

This includes:

  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Christmas tree
  • Lilies
  • Poinsettia

Just like people animals have their own unique tastes. So, be wary. Just because your dog has never eaten your Poinsettia plant it doesn’t mean that the new dog or visiting animals won't!

A good way to make sure that your cat or dog doesn't eat anything inappropriate this Christmas is to get them a great selection of Christmas treats.

A special treat for your cat or dog could stop them from trying to eat human food that has been left lying around. Another bonus of having a stock of Christmas treats for your pet is that you'll be less tempted to feed them table scraps.

If there is a Christmassy pet treat readily available, you can just grab one of them for your cat or dog. This way you'll feel confident that they are receiving healthy snacks and they won't feel left out of the celebration.

Now, the only thing left to do is convince your guests that Fido does not need to eat a mini sausage roll!


Your pet is part of your family and no doubt you’ll want to keep your entire family safe this Christmas.

There are a number of hazards in the average home during Christmas that may not be that noticeable. A good way to work out if your home is safe for your dog is to think of them as a baby that is just beginning to crawl.

Do the same for cats but remember that they can jump on kitchen counter tops, so make a conscious effort to cover up food.

Kitty cat getting into the festive spirit

Kitty getting into the festive spirit - Image Courtesy of Adam Arizona - Wikimedia.org

Taking these few simple steps will mean that your home is much safer for your best friend:

  1. Crouch down and look around your home at the same eye level as your pet.
  2. Remove any hazardous items. Check for:
    • Bits of broken Christmas decorations.
    • Rolls of sticky tape of scissors left from wrapping presents.
    • Low hanging Christmas tree decorations.
    • Wrapped Christmas presents on floor.
  3. Consider the surfaces that your dog or cat can reach (this will be easier if you own a small breed dog compared with a cat!) Move all the things that your pet may be interested in:
    • Scented candles.
    • Christmas ornaments.
    • Plants or bunches of flowers.
    • Glass bottles, cups etc.
    • Bags, purses and guest’s belongings.
    • Food and alcohol.
  4. Assess safety of Christmas decorations. Pay attention to:
    • Fairy lights – keep electrical cords hidden. You may wish to wipe bitter spray on them to prevent chewing.
    • Ornaments – avoid low hanging ornaments that may tempt your cat and food based decorations that may tempt your dog.
    • Wreaths ribbon & tinsel – make sure your cat cannot become tangled in them.


They may not be able to join in with a game of Monopoly or Scrabble but don't forget that it's important to take the time to play with your pet. There's a lot going on during the festive season but some one-on-one time will keep your pet happy and entertained.

Remember that your cat may play with the ornaments she can reach if she is bored. Try leaving designated Christmas cat toys out around the tree and make sure to play with your cat whenever you can.

A bored dog may chew the fairy light cables so presenting your dog with a special Christmas toy and then playing a game of fetch will ensure that he is entertained.

Tis the season to be jolly – after all it's what Christmas is about. Just taking a few simple precautions will ensure that Christmas is special for the whole family including your furry friend.

How To Have A Safe Christmas With Pets - An infographic by the team at My Pet Warehouse.

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Posted by Amy Wise