Holiday Pet Safety Tips from Heritage Veterinary Hospital

Group of purebred dogs in Christmas hats

December can be a stressful month for all members of a family. Adults add to their schedules with time away from home for social events and shopping excursions. Children are excited as homes are decorated and school is let out for a break. Stress levels can be elevated. We might remember that we have 4 legged family members, or do we?

How much do these changes that happen during December stress out our dogs and cats?

Decorations are put up inside and outside their homes. Somehow we expect the pets to know to leave these decorations alone. Family schedules are changed. The pet’s schedule is neglected. Pets do best on regular routines. Extra exercise can be a stress reliever for pets (and their humans).

Company! Strangers are in and out of the house. Aunt Lucy visits, wearing her Sunday perfume. Uncle George visits and has been smoking cigars. Neighbor Jenny visits, leaving her purse unclasped on the floor next to the couch. Children that don’t have pets visit.

Tables are laden with goodies and beverages. Dogs and cats can be sensitive to strong scents. That purse might have diet (xylitol) gum in the pocket. The children pull and tease the dog and cat. And no one pays attention to the counter surfing dog. Somehow we expect the pets to know how to behave in these “foreign” situations.


  •  Exercise your pet – dogs can have long walks and extra play sessions, cats a long play session.
  • Give your pet a secluded area of your home that is off limits to visitors. Crate you pets if you cannot trust visitors to respect their space.
  • Kennel your pets if you feel that you cannot give your pet the attention needed before, during, or after these stressful situations.


  • Put all trash into secure containers. Food trash invasion can mean GI upsets. Beverages left unattended can lead to alcohol poisoning for our little friends.
  • Put presents up – do not expect your pet to respect your new toys. “Curiosity killed the cat” came from somewhere.
  • Take you dog out for a good walk and play with the cat for a little while as a reward for letting their humans have human time.

Keep our veterinary office’s number handy, in case you had some oops from this list.  We will help you get your pet back on track.