December 4, 2019

Holiday Survival 101: Pets and the Holidays

Blog post created by Sam Cryer, Greenhill Humane Society volunteer

The most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching, and both the fun and the responsibility are doubled when you have pets. Whether your holidays will be spent traveling, cooking, decorating, or gift-giving, follow these tips to make sure you and your pets have a safe and happy holiday season.

Safe Travels

If you’re traveling during the holidays to visit family and friends, you may wonder whether your pet would prefer to come along or stay home. Much of this depends on your pet’s personality. Dogs sometimes enjoy traveling, but generally, most pets prefer to stay in their familiar environment. If you’ll be gone for less than a week, or will be flying, the best solution may be to hire a pet sitter who can stay at your home or check in regularly to make sure your animals are comfortable.

If you decide to travel with your pet, remember that you’ll need to bring all the comforts of home, including food, bedding, toys, dishes, a leash, etc. Depending on your pet’s breed and personality, you may also need a carrier or crate to transport them and to be their home away from home. If you’re driving a long distance, stop regularly for water and/or potty breaks.

Make sure that whoever you’re visiting is comfortable with the extra guest you’ll be bringing. If you’re staying in a hotel or AirBnB, check ahead to ensure that they’re pet-friendly and can accommodate your furry family member.

Toxic Holiday Foods

Humans enjoy lots of yummy treats during the holidays. There’s no reason your pets can’t too but make sure they’re animal-safe. Common holiday goodies like chocolates, fruitcake and alcohol are toxic to pets, so pick up a box of dog biscuits when you’re at the store if you feel like Fido needs a treat.

People treats aren’t the only thing you need to keep away from animals. As you celebrate, make sure that things like bread dough, raw meat, onions and garlic are out of your pet’s reach.

Other Holiday Toxins

Medications that you or your guests use should also be safely locked away. All medicines, including pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, NSAIDS, ibuprofen, antibiotics, cough drops and eye drops may help you feel better, but they won’t do the same for your pets.


Holiday plants like poinsettias, Christmas cactus, mistletoe and holly are pretty, but dangerous to pets. Keep them out of reach and be vigilant about picking up fallen leaves or petals. Or purchase an imitation plant at the store and save yourself the bother of watering!

Avoid tree preservatives and keep your pet away from the Christmas tree stand so they can’t drink the water or tip the tree. To make your Christmas tree extra safe, get covers for the Christmas light wires, or tuck them away where they won’t be accessible for curious kitties to play with. Tinsel is another hazard that can be very tempting to cats, but dangerous if ingested.

Make sure that breakable or salt dough ornaments are high enough that your pets can’t get at them, and position candles out of reach of wagging tails.

Safe Gifts for Pets

It’s natural to want your pets to join in the festivities too. If you decide your pet would appreciate a gift, make sure it’s something safe and enjoyable for them. A cozy bed, scratching post, ball thrower, chew toy, or tasty treat can help your pet enjoy the special day along with the rest of the family. Before giving your pet a gift, inspect it to make sure there are no loose threads, broken pieces or sharp edges that could hurt them. Not all toys designed for animals are truly safe, so use good judgment when deciding on pet presents.

Wish list

You and your pet are lucky to have each other, but not everyone is so fortunate. One great way to spread holiday cheer is to help animals who are still waiting for their home for the holidays. If you’d like to help Greenhill Humane Society keep homeless animals safe and cozy this holiday season, please check out our wish list at

From our family to yours, we hope your holiday season is safe, merry and bright!