If you are a dog owner, you know that the holidays can be both a wonderful and dangerous time for your beloved pet. With some thought, planning, and care, you and your fur-baby can celebrate the holidays safely and joyfully.

Some things to consider to make sure you and your dog have the best holiday ever include:

  • Providing safe Christmas gifts for your dog
  • Avoiding holiday décor dangers
  • Watching for dangerous foods and table treats
  • Removing toxic holiday plants
  • Entertaining safely 

Providing Safe Christmas Gifts for Your Dog

Dogs are like kids: they love toys! But to complicate matters, what is safe for one dog may be a veritable danger zone for another. Here are some recommendations on toy safety from the Humane Society.


Most dogs like activity, and toys that provide good strong chewing exercise as well as toys that encourage tug-of-war games are fun, healthy and safe action toys.


Toys that provide a safe diversion make wonderful gifts for dogs. Think of toys that you can fill with treats and peanut butter to keep them happy, focused and busy.

Cozy and Comfy

Think stuffies that your dog can carry around and snuggle with; for some dogs, their stuffie actually becomes their baby. However, these toys can be downright dangerous for some dogs for two reasons: if they have a squeaker, many dogs will not rest until they can tear the toy apart to get the squeaker, which can then pose a choking hazard. Second, in the process of tearing the toy apart, they can ingest some of the materials and end up with an intestinal issue. 

Believe it or not, the most cherished toy of all for your dog is your old, scruffy T-shirt or some other clothing item that has your most beloved scent forever imbedded in it. Don’t be surprised if he carries it with him everywhere.

IMPORTANT: No matter what toy you give your dog for the holidays, never leave him by himself to play with it. Always keep your eye on him, and if you can’t, then put the toy(s) away until you can watch him. 

These are overall guidelines, but a note about heavy chewers: even though advertised, no toy is indestructible for a true heavy chewer. No matter what toy you give him, always keep an eye on him, and it. 

Avoiding Holiday Decor Dangers

Your house is decorated and looks beautiful, but just as you are sitting and admiring your handiwork, your dog could be getting into serious trouble. Beware of the following:

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Oh how tempting are all those glittery and shiny things that adorn the tree. Many ornaments are made of glass, which can cut a dog’s mouth and worse, if swallowed. 

Lights and Candles

Electric strings of lights can give your dog a shock if he decides they look too yummy to pass by. Candles can cause your pet to be burned, or your house to catch on fire.

Ribbons and Paper

Wrapping materials can be hazardous for dogs. Ribbons can cause choking and paper can be ingested. Plus, there are dyes and paper treatments that can cause harm.

Watching for Dangerous Foods and Table Treats

Everyone wants to give dogs special treats at holiday feasts, but rather than delight, they can kill. 


Chocolate is toxic for dogs, especially dark chocolate, which contains fat, sugar, and caffeine. If your dog eats a quantity of chocolate, he may experience diarrhea, vomiting, and hyperactivity, and eating a large quantity can be deadly.

Some Sugarless Foods

Many sugarless foods, including candies, beverages, and gum contain a substance called xylitol, which is extremely toxic and lethal. Dogs who eat anything containing this need immediate medical care. 

Fatty Foods

Fatty foods such as gravies, stuffing, and buttery cookies and pastries are too rich for canine stomachs and metabolisms and, at best, can result in stomach upset and diarrhea; at worst, it can result in serious illness.

Other Dangerous Foods

Alcohol is a big no-no. Also, make sure your dog does not eat grapes, raisins, nuts, and dairy.  

Removing Toxic Holiday Plants

Holiday plants are part of the overall tradition, but think twice before making them a part of your décor.

Christmas Tree Droppings

Everyone loves the custom of getting a real Christmas tree, but the inevitable dropping of needles to the floor can cause a problem for pets who find them irresistible. 


A beautiful plant with shiny leaves, a dog who ingests it can become seriously ill with stomach and intestinal upset.


This plant is particularly dangerous and can cause a host of symptoms ranging from intestinal upset to collapse, hallucinations, and death.


Long the evil stepchild of holiday plants, poinsettia is not the demon it was originally made out to be. True, it can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, but it is not deadly. Still, it’s a good idea to keep it well out of the paws and mouths of curious dogs.

Entertaining Safely

Tis’ the season to be jolly, and that includes hosting friends, neighbors, and family for holiday parties. However, take heed to keep your best friend safe during times when you may be easily distracted. Also, the associated change in routine is bound to make him stressed, leading to uncharacteristic and frightening behaviors. Here’s your job:

Keep Your Eyes Open

Despite your own stress and distractions, make it a point to keep your eyes on your dog to watch for signs of anxiety. 

Opening Doors

Be vigilant when people come and go, as these are the perfect opportunities for a stressed dog to take off in a panic. You may want to consider putting him in a nice, warm, cozy place to avoid all the hoopla.

Warn Guests

Tell your guests not to give your dog treats or alcohol. 

Dogs are family, and their health and safety are just as important as everyone else’s. Take time to safeguard and protect him as you enjoy the holidays, and lots of future time, together.