APBC’s Complete Guide to Holiday Safety for your Dog

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and all the are relatives too.

This is the season when you need to protect your puppy from overly exuberant kids and adults.


Here are our go-to tips to ensure that your dog doesn’t end up on the naughty list.

Dogs and Holiday Gatherings

With a little planning you can keep your dogs safe from kids and over excited adults.

🎅  There are no “days off” or “Holiday’s” for dogs.  Pups and dogs need appropriate outlets for their energy, plan on little spurts of focused work together:

  • Go out and play for 15 minutes
  • walk nicely to the mailbox with a sit/stay,
  • tether your dog to you as you get the house clean,
  • as you prep the holiday table have your pup work PLACE. 

It is important to integrate work & exercise as you move throughout your day. Remember, you can be purposeful both inside and outside!

🎅  Pups, immature or sensitive dogs need protection and rest from kids and over-exuberant adults.  The energy these people bring are exhausting to dogs and they can only handle little spurts of time with them.  Don’t get me wrong, I know your pooch will be willing to be around them, but extended time around excited people can make your dog wired, over-tired, over-the-top, spun-out, sugary-high, kind of behavior.  So keep those times together short!

🎅 Create ‘quiet/safe’ times away from the kids and over-exuberant adults throughout each day this holiday season by putting your dog away in a pen or crate in a quiet part of the house at least two times a day for about an hour or two.  

Dogs and Holiday Decorations


🎄 Christmas Trees and Dog Safety

Dogs generally love  Christmas trees — they like to be near them, to play with them and to drink the water!

  • Don’t let your dog actually drink the water for the tree because it is filled with bacteria and can harm your pup’s intestinal system.
  • To keep your tree from toppling over, tie fishing line to the top of the tree and secure it to a ceiling plant hook.
  • Place bells on the lower branches of the tree to alert you if your dog is exploring where they shouldn’t be.

🎄  Holiday Plants and Dogs

Holly, Mistletoe, Lilly’s  and Poinsettias are for decoration but not for eating. Holiday plants, though gorgeous, can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Poinsettias, though not poisonous,  contain a milky irritant sap,” says Dr. Lisa Murphy, associate professor of toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “The sap can cause some mild discomfort.” Research shows no evidence of long-term effects from eating poinsettias.  Mistletoe and Holly are toxic to dogs. Many varieties of Lilies can cause kidney failure.

🎄  Holiday Decorations and Dogs

Don’t let dogs lick potpourri oils and keep lit candles high and away from dogs wagging tails.

Keep electrical cords covered. Dogs love to chew electrical cords, so be sure to keep your dog safe from electric shock and burns.

Dogs and Holiday Food


🍗  Bones, spiced foods and fat from ham

All of these special holiday foods can cause pancreatitis or intestinal blockages. So please don’t give your dog a special holiday meal of human food. Also keep the trash lid on tight to prevent any dumpster diving from your dog.

🎂  No Chocolate, sugar free foods sweetened with xylitol, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts.  Best to keep the human food away from the dogs!!

🥂 The only drink your dog should have access to is his water bowl!  Respiratory failure from consumption of alcohol is possible and could possibly result in death.  

Should you suspect your dog has ingested any suspicious product, immediately contact your local vet or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435 and also you can learn more about what is on the People food NO NO list https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets


Dogs and Wintery Weather


❄️  Regular sidewalk salt can cause irritation to your dog’s paws.  Try using cat litter or pet-safe sidewalk products. If your dog does walk through salt be sure to wipe your dog’s paws when returning home.  

❄️  Antifreeze is VERY toxic to dogs.  Worst news…it has a sweet taste and remains liquid when other water sources freeze.  Symptoms initially seem the same as alcohol consumption but can quickly lead to a fatal outcome. 

❄️  My general rule of thumb is if it’s too cold for you to be outside, then it’s probably too cold for your dog too!   Protect your dog’s paws like you would your own feet.  Get Paw Protectors and even a sweater depending upon the coat of your dog. 

❄️ Be sure to keep fresh, unfrozen water sources available for your dog at all times. 

Door Safety and Manners


Now, more than ever, you need to be certain your dog does not bolt out doors.  Keep a leash on your pup or dog and practice having them sit at the door when you open it.  Reward with a treat and gentle praise. 

Remember doors are exciting so we want to inspire focus and calm at the door.  Another great option is to set a place bed near the door.  Get your dog to hop onto PLACE when the door knocks or door bell rings!   Reward door manners and place choices often! 

Now is the time to be certain you have your ID tags clearly on and they are visible with your phone number and contact information.  Microchip your dog!  

Deliveries will be often during this season so be certain to keep your dog on a leash BEFORE you open the door!  Dogs are opportunistic and very quick-and capable of slipping out the door very quickly! 

👨‍👩‍👦‍👦  When your guests arrive, let’s encourage everyone to come into the house and lower the energy levels a bit BEFORE the dog is brought into the mix to say hello. You must work polite meet and greet behaviors long before people arrive. Start practicing now.  Have your leash on, and GET IN FRONT OF YOUR DOG, with your dog behind you as you say hello to people.  Your dog learns how to wait and calm down, while your people lower the excitement level as well.  I only allow a gentle hello when both dog and human are in a calm state of mind. 

With these tips you, your dog and your family will have a safe and joy-filled holiday.


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