Pet Safety

Christmas dangers every pet parent should be aware of

Bianca Amponsah
Main Blog Image - Cat and two dogs under a blanket in front of a Christmas tree

Christmas is an exciting time for everyone in the family, and even more so for our furry members!

There’s luminous lights, scrumptious scents and shiny decorations. Plus a huge tree with ball-shaped objects hanging from it.

Basically there’s irresistible invitations around for all pets, even the ones on the nice list.

That’s why it’s important not to leave anything in reach of your pet over the holiday season. 

After all, we can’t blame them for risking it all, if they get the chance!

Many of the goodies that you have lying around the home at Christmas time have the potential to be harmful to our pets.

Keep reading to learn what to look out for so you can avoid any accidents at this time of year!

Christmas Trees


Christmas trees can be quite troublesome for our pets and we’re not just talking about the cats’ fascination with it either!

Although cats climbing trees is one of the most common accidents we see around this time of year, this isn’t the only way Christmas trees can be dangerous.

Not only could the fall cause injury to a fearless cat or docile dog, but if you have a real tree, the tumble might cause the tree water to spill out.

Stagnant tree water can be a breeding ground for bacteria and not the best for your pets tummy.

The oils in fir trees can also be mildly toxic, which will cause an upset tummy if swallowed.

What’s more, the needles can get stuck in your pet's throat or paw. Ouch! If your tree is artificial, be sure to watch out for any loose bits on the floor, which may fall off and be swallowed by your pet. This could create a blockage and require surgery.

To avoid all of the above, we suggest securing your tree to the floor, leaving the pet in another room when you go out and regularly vacuuming/sweeping to get rid of those nasty needles!

They even do Christmas trees that are more cat-friendly now! Some come raised off the floor, whilst others are designed to be fitted in the corner.

Take a look if you have a curious cat who loves taking on the Christmas tree.

Tempting Treats


Christmas Pudding includes several ingredients that can cause severe harm to dogs and cats, including raisins, alcohol and nut! Same goes for mince pies.

Turkey bones can be dangerous as they can get lodged in your pets throat or worse, be ingested and require surgery. 

Gravy & stuffing is very salty and often contains onions and garlic, which are also highly toxic to our companions.

Don't forget to keep all that chocolate that you accumulate out of paws reach over the festive period as well.

Festive Plants


Poinsettias are popular around Christmas time, but these pesky plants are mildly toxic to pets.

And they’re not the only ones! You should avoid Mistletoe and Holly if you have a cat or dog too.

These can all potentially cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems if ingested. Instead, opt for some festive artificial plants or pet-friendly bouquets! 

Strings of Lights


Ever wondered why your cuddly companion goes coo coo for flashing lights?

Well, the most simple answer is that the fast movement can sometimes trigger their prey drive.

After all, our pampered pets were once big bad predators (LOL) and the instinct to chase or hunt anything that moves fast is still very much there. We’re sure you’ve noticed! 

That’s why dangling fairy light can often dazzle our pets and tempt them towards destruction!

And when many of our dog and cat toys light up, flash and are designed so similarly, can we really blame them for being confused at Christmas time?

Try not to unintentionally tease your pet by keeping lights and dangling wires safe and out of reach and always turn them off or take your pet out of the room, when you’re not around.



Cold winters call for candles, wood burners and if you’re lucky, you might even have a real fireplace heating up your home.

Most pets love curling up in front of a cosy open fire. But a daft dog, young pup or curious cat may play or investigate too closely.

Amidst all the festivities, a wagging tail could catch alight and a countertop-loving cat may "accidentally"  knock over any  lit candles.

Indoor lights and other Christmas-related items are a common cause of fires around this time of year. Take precautions and turn all lights, battery-operated devices and electricals off before bed.

Keep items like this out of your pets reach and check cords for evidence of chew damage before plugging them in, to prevent a possible fire.

Always use a fireguard and think about investing in a home fire safety kit (you can get them online). Opt for LED candles instead and never leave any pets unattended around open fires.

Especially if you have any new furkids that may be unfamiliar with flames!

Busy Homes


Nothing beats quality time with your loved ones over Christmas.

For many of us, it’s one of the few times a year we can catch up with family and friends, and celebrate in the same room. Meaning our homes often get very busy!

It might be the most wonderful time of the year for us, but our cats and dogs can get overwhelmed with all the excitement and change in routine.

New faces and extra noise can be frightening, so your pet will thank you for providing them with a cosy and quiet room, where they can retreat to if it all gets too much.

Stock this safe space with toys, water and treats to keep your companion content and be sure to minimise stress by maintaining your pet's normal routine.

So lots of exercise, playtime and snuggles!

This will keep your buddy satisfied and mentally stimulated, so you can both enjoy the festive break together. 



Christmas is such a magical time, especially for small children.

But because they can get very excitable, your little ones should always be supervised around any pets.

Sudden squeals of joy and sugar-fuelled hyperactivity may cause your dog to bounce around in excitement and accidentally hurt, a smaller child.

Watch over children carrying any tempting treats or filling their faces with food in reach of your dog. A greedy pooch may not hesitate to snatch snacks out of unsuspecting hands, when nobody is looking!

This can cause injury to an innocent child and put your pet at possible risk of poisoning, depending on what was eaten.

Show small family members and furbabies how to play together safely and encourage gentle interaction. So, no pulling fur, poking, grabbing or riding!

And remember, that dogs and cats may mistake the kids shiny new Christmas toys for their own!

Avoid any confusion by dedicating an area for your little ones to play where they can be watched over. This way you can observe your pets body language and decide when it’s time to call it a day.

You know your buddy better than anyone, so if you think they’re getting agitated or overwhelmed, put them in a quiet calm place away from the chaos.

Christmas Ornaments


Elf on the Shelf, nutcrackers and other cute festive figures, all have one thing in common.

As well as filling our homes with holiday cheer, they can all be mistaken for toys by our pets!

Confused companions may cheekily chew decorations, causing damage not only to your furnishings, but worse to your furry-family member, if swallowed.

Sharp shrapnel from broken ornaments and big bits of plastic can injure pets and cause internal blockages, which could call for surgery.

Keep breakable ornaments and dangerous decorations somewhere they can’t be knocked over or kidnapped by your furkid.

That way you can all have a hazard-free, holly jolly Christmas!



Now that the roads are beginning to frost over and the snow is starting to fall, you might start stocking up on some antifreeze.

If so, be sure to keep it somewhere safe and secure away from your pets. The smell is incredibly intoxicating to them and even the smallest amount can be dangerous.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic and can be fatal for our furry friends, so be careful not to spill it anywhere they may happen to wander!

If your companion consumes even a little bit, It can cause kidney damage and even though some effects of poisoning may kick in quickly, it’s often not until two to three days later that signs of kidney failure start to show!

Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol is the most toxic you can get. Others contain methanol or propylene glycol, which although may not be as bad, can still make your buddy very unwell. 

Wrapping Paper and Decorations


Aside from family time, one of the best bits about Christmas is receiving presents and ripping off the wrapping paper!

And if you’ve ever given your furry friend something wrapped up, you’ll know they love it too. Sometimes more than the gift itself!

The crunching sound as they stomp their paws into the paper and tear it to shreds is utter bliss for any boisterous buddy.

But it's best not to frequently encourage this behaviour as oil paper and any paper with embossed metallics, can both cause internal damage.

Other types of paper might be whitened using chlorine which can also cause an upset stomach.

But it’s not so much the wrapping paper we have to be wary of and more what we are wrapping with! The decorations we use to make our presents look pretty are the real danger for our pets.

Dangling tags and entwining ribbons may tempt a playful companion, causing blockages and severe intestinal damage.

Watch out for glitter, metal embellishments, ribbon, string and yarn.

String foreign bodies especially can cut through intestinal loops leading to death in cats and dogs. That’s why it’s best to keep your buddy at bay when you’re wrapping presents! 



Think your Christmas wreath is nothing to worry about?

Think again! Many wreaths and indoor decorative Christmas plants contain English Ivy (aka ranching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy, and California ivy).

This species of Ivy contains triterpenoid saponins and if ingested by pets (particularly the leaves) can cause gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive salivation.

The sap can also induce a contact rash, so keep these hazardous houseplants away from pets at all times!



Ho ho ho, be careful where you store your booze this Christmas because alcohol is a definite no no no!

Pets react to stimulants differently to humans, so ensure all your vices are kept well out of reach!

Alcohol is absorbed into our pet's bodies in as little as 30 minutes. The gastrointestinal tract rapidly absorbs this toxic substance, as does the skin.

You’ve already discovered about the dangers of antifreeze, but did you know products like rubbing alcohol and even fermenting bread dough can cause poisoning in pets too?

Symptoms include drowsiness, and lack of coordination, progressing to loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, and potentially death.

Cold Weather


Hypothermia in dogs and cats is a condition that occurs when their body temperature drops to dangerous levels.

If your pet spends prolonged periods outside, the low temperatures and cold winds can quickly reduce their temperature.

Along with hypothermia, frostbite can even kick in.

Most dogs will be alright outside during winter, but they are all different, and some are more sensitive to the cold than others.

Dogs that are small, slim or elderly may be more at risk. The same goes for puppies and short-haired breeds.

If temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celsius, be sure to wrap your pooch up in a warm coat or jumper. And don’t forget some protection for their paws.

Coats should be snug and comfortable and should never restrict your pet's movement. If it’s too loose or tight, it isn’t right!

Larger dog breeds like Huskies and Golden Retrievers will often cope fine in the cold and snow without a coat or jumper.

Below 7 degrees Celsius is also way too cold for cats. Try to keep them indoors to avoid a frozen feline but don't force them as this can cause behaviour issues.

Always provide an indoor letterbox to encourage them to stay indoors.

If you’re outside and your pet is shivering or seems very tired, then turn back around and get them home as soon as possible.

If they appear very unwell after a walk and their demeanour starts to decline, contact your vet immediately.

Dark nights


BRRR winter! The season of long, dark evenings! As the nights draw in and it gets darker earlier, there are some special precautions you should take to keep pets safe.

Make sure you have a light-up lead and purchase reflective clothing, such as bright, high-visibility coats and collars for your dog.

There’s an increase in road traffic accidents in the winter, so remember to equip your cat with the proper protective gear too!

Although collars themselves are not without risk, at least if your cat is caught off guard on the road, there is a chance they’ll be visible with one!

To test if the collar fits properly, squeeze two fingers snugly between it and your cat's neck. Double-check it has a quick-release fitting to prevent injury.

Lastly, and probably the most important of all - ensure your pet is micro-chipped!

Road Salt and Grit


De-icing products such as road grit and salt can harm our pets. That’s because they contain chemicals such as additives and anti-caking agents.

The grit can get stuck in their paws, causing soreness, redness, cracking and gut irritation depending on what the substance contains.

If your pet tries to soothe its paws and licks up a large amount of the salt residue found in road grit, this can cause further problems.

Make sure you wipe your dog’s paws after walks in gritted areas and do the same for your cat when they come back from their winter wanders!

Remember to get right between the toes where the rock salt may rub. Protective booties and paw balm/cream offer ideal protection for pets with sensitive paws.

Rat and Mouse Poison


During the colder months, rats and mice scurry to find warmer places to live. Because of this, more people put down poison in the wintertime.

But be wary, as rat poisons are dangerous and potentially deadly to your furry family members. The baits used are usually flavoured to attract rodents. And this can also entice our pets to eat them!

If you use poison or traditional rat traps, put them somewhere your pet can't reach. But there are many different and more importantly, humane types of rodent deterrents we recommend instead.

Check out pet-safe electronic plug-ins or non-toxic rat-repellent made from peppermint! After all, it's not the crafty critters fault they stumbled into your cosy, inviting home!

Signs of poisoning may not show for days after ingestion, so if you think your pet has consumed some poisons, contact your vet immediately.

Like this blog? Pawsome! Get sharing on socials to help your pet parent pals keep their pets safe, happy and healthy during Christmas time.

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Fiona Eldridge
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Fiona Eldridge
Hi! I'm Fiona, Buddycare's lead Veterinary Nurse and I'm here to answer all of your pet related questions dog and cat emoji
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