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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Beachy

Safe Critters for the Holidays!

The Holidays are such festive times filled with family and friends. Careful though! This time of year is also filled with hazards for our furry family members. Sparkling decorations, dangling ornaments, and wires from lights strewn about…can all lead to danger for intrigued canine and feline critters! Let’s look at some dangers together so you can plan to safely prevent a holiday tragedy!

Potentially Dangerous Situations:

  • A thoughtful guest brings you a beautiful and vibrant Poinsettia plant as a thank-you for the invite to the party! Plants like Poinsettia and Mistletoe hung during the holiday festivities are Poisonous for our animals. You can kindly accept it and place it in a location not accessible to your pets or others. Are you the one attending the party and offering a thank-you gift? Why not bring a silk plant that can be enjoyed for years to come?

  • From what seems out of nowhere to your dog (or cat), comes all sorts of shiny and dangly decorations in what is typically a normal space. They have to check it out! As your fur babies do this, these shiny items may end up tangled in your animal’s digestive tract causing a life-threatening blockage. Have you read “Living for Samson”? We experienced this tragic nightmare and miss our Samson every day!

  • Many visitors! This can go multiple ways. For one, your dog may not be used to a bunch of people coming into the home. Perhaps there are loud party games, laughter, and some folks getting a little too rambunctious. Maybe those visitors brought children, with fast and jerky movements, and not respecting the dog’s boundaries. Also, what about the frequent opening and closing of doors, or maybe a door is left open, and the dog wonders? Add fireworks, and you have a perfect storm for your dog to experience heightened stress. Heightened stress can lead to injury, for your dog, or a person. Also, the littles can be easily stepped on by visitors in the house, and not used to looking for them!

  • Parties = Food! This can be tempting for our four-legged family members. Aside from affecting their diet, potluck finds may include ingredients harmful to your dogs like sugar-free substitutes such as xylitol, or other ingredients toxic to dogs like chocolate, macadamia nuts, garlic, raisins, onion, and more.

  • A flurry of new toys opened by the Christmas tree will often be within the pup’s reach. These will often have small pieces that could be ingested, chewed, and ruined. Think about the packaging too! Flimsy twist ties and plastic parts can be ingested. Another blockage danger!

  • Traveling with your dog can be challenging. Dogs can be a distraction to the driver, become injured in a car accident, contract an illness at dog parks, or escape and become lost during those fuel stops.

Does this have your ANXIETIES up? Don’t let it! Brainstorming these dangers allows you to prepare for them and set your holiday season up for success!

Safety Ideas:

  • Before bringing any plant into the home or yard, find out if it is toxic to your dog (or cat)! Check with your veterinarian or refer to the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants. Check out the resources at the bottom of the blog!

  • Decorations! Perhaps use baby gates or play yards to keep your dog away from the decorations they can’t seem to leave alone! Maintain supervision of your dog. Something new may grab their attention even if they aren’t a chewer. Don’t take chances with anything stringy, flimsy wires, spongy, or could be swallowed and get lodged as a choking or blockage hazard.

  • Be attentive to your dog’s body language! This is how they communicate with their humans! Dogs do not bite without warning. When it seems they do, the signals were either not recognized or ignored.

  • Consider keeping your dog in its crate, or a separate, quiet, and safe space. This may feel cruel or unfair to some people. It's not! In reality, you may be reducing your dog’s stress level. It may bring them great comfort to not be forced into a space with many people crowding into the house. Include a safe and non-destructive chew toy for a treat!

  • If you opt to leave your dog out, be sure to instruct guests on the rule to keep your dog comfortable, reduce stress and keep him safe from unwanted patting or upsetting a canine tummy! Inform parents that children must be supervised at ALL TIMES! Take a few minutes to introduce the children to your dog and cover SAFETY & COMFORT rules. Keep a consistent check on your dog, and body language, and consider moving your dog to isolation if their stress is elevated.

  • FOOD! Consider including an instruction with your invitations that guests avoid potluck dishes that include the “off limits” items for dogs Check out the resources at the bottom of the blog!. End up with these foods anyway? Have a plan for placement that is out of reach for your dog. Keep watch for abandoned plates and use a trash can with a lid.

  • Do a careful scan of the floor to be sure that all packaging materials are picked up and placed in the rubbish. Make sure toys with small parts are picked up when your child is done playing.

  • Seatbelts for puppies! Ensure your dog is in a sturdy harness and buckled into a seatbelt! Be sure this is not attached to the collar. Extra Safety Tip! Be sure to latch your dog’s leash before unlatching the seatbelt. This will prevent your dog from getting out of the vehicle and being lost or hit.

  • Use dog parks carefully. If another dog is in the park, introduce the dogs carefully without the children present. Be attentive to what your dog is smelling; unfortunately, some people may have left behind their dog’s mess. Be a good traveler, and clean up after your dog!

  • Make sure your dog is well hydrated and never leave them alone in a hot car!

  • Pack a dog first aid kit with your human kits!

The holidays can be a festive time full of fond memories of the season. Keep safety a focus and enjoy the season with your family and pets!

Here are some fun things you can do with your pet, and with the kiddos out on the holiday break:

  • A regular in the Beachy house, “hide and seek” with dad! This engages your dog’s brain and gives them a chance to problem-solve.

  • Bundle everyone up and get to a hiking trail. Let your dog be, a dog! Leashed, let your dog lead the way sniffing and exploring.

  • Set up a room with different soft and silky fabrics, puzzles, and textured objects like licking mats with dabs of peanut butter. Let your dog explore with your careful supervision!

  • Puzzles! Check the Resources below!

  • Hide treats sporadically around the house or backyard. Let your dog “find it.”

  • A sandbox for your dog! Use a covered children’s sandbox and hide scented chew toys for your dog to find!

  • A good ‘ole fashion game of fetch, frisbee, or a walk are all great ways to spend time with your dog, exercise their bodies, and engage their minds.

Beachy Dogs wishes you and your family and safe and happy holiday season. May this time be filled with wonderful memories of your family, friends, and your furry loved ones!


  • The ASPCA provides a thorough list of poisonous plants. Check them out and perhaps share the holiday spirit with a donation!

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435 Helpful tip! Put this number in your phone contacts so you don’t need to search in an emergency.

  • Watch how to make a homemade food puzzle with recyclables from around the house and a variety of your dog’s favorite treats!

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