Holiday Pet Tips

Nov 27, 2010 | 2010 Articles, Contributors, Pets, Sheryl Wall

by Sheryl Wall

Holidays can be a fun time of year, but if we aren’t prepared it can turn into a miserable time with your pets. With all the presents, holiday treats and small Christmas decorations, your house could become a holiday tornado. So let’s make this holiday season a fun time for both you and your furry friends.

Santa Cosette

First, be sure to have the A.S.C.P.A. Poison Control center number on hand at all times. The number is: 1-888-426-4435. Also have a 24-hour veterinarian number as well. Then be aware that some of your favorite foods — such as chocolate, onions, grapes, and raisins, to name a few — can be hazardous to pets. The Humane society has a more comprehensive list of foods to avoid.

Always keep your food up high and out of reach. I tend to keep any potentially dangerous food in Tupperware containers, in the fridge, or in cabinets so it’s impossible to reach, and I always have a child lock on the cabinet where the garbage can goes, just to be safe. Those beautiful poinsettias we love during Christmas are poisonous to pets, so be sure they are out of reach, or consider fake flowers.

Cosette's first Christmas

Another holiday precaution I find important is the decorations. I avoid any decorations that are potential “toys” that can be choking hazards. Either don’t have them in the home or keep them up where pets can’t reach them.

For instance, my cats love to play with the Christmas tree ornaments and the lights, so not putting any ornaments on the first layer of the tree helps them avoid this temptation. Another way to help is to put a baby gate/pen around the tree to keep them out. Especially watch your cats because they love anything dangling and may even decide to climb up your tree.

My dogs love to open the gifts so I did some training to teach them not to help themselves and I never leave them alone with our tree and presents when I go somewhere. If you can’t get them to stay away from the gifts, you may need to not leave them out.

Natisa opening gift

Now that we are confident our pets are safe it is time to have some fun. My dogs love the holidays. They enjoy having their own stockings and helping open presents. They also like going on walks at night and seeing all the Christmas lights. It can be fun to take them with you to Christmas Tree Lane in Fresno on the days it is open for walkers. This is a way to get some exercise and have some fun at the same time.

I like to dress Natisa up like Santa to visit the senior home during the season, and everyone there really enjoys the holiday spirit.

Another fun thing to do is getting your dog’s picture taken with Santa at PetSmart. I haven’t done this myself but I think my daughter would have fun taking one of our dogs to meet Santa this year. The Valley Animal Shelter in Fresno will also have Santa photos and the money goes to help the homeless pets.

Traveling with your pet during the holidays is common for many families and can be fun as long as you go prepared. I find that one of the best hotel chains to use is La Quinta Inn. They are nice hotels as well as pet friendly. They typically don’t charge for pets. You can check them out on their website. You can find other pet-friendly hotels by checking online sites such as Official Pet Hotels and Expedia. Put “pet friendly” in the Preferences.

There are many dog events during the holidays in California that can be fun to participate in and most raise funds for shelters and other great causes. In November there was a Cancer awareness event in Long Beach.

Home for the Holidays is in Irvine, California on December 5th and the event includes a food court, raffle, bake sale, microchipping and photos with Santa.

Whether you stay at home for the holidays or decide to travel, your furry companions can join in the fun. Let’s make this holiday season safe and fun for everyone.

Sheryl Wall is an ongoing contributor to our
Pet Perspective section, providing pet care advice from years of personal experience.


  1. Great article with a wealth of tips! Amazing what common things in the home are actually poisonous to our pets!

  2. I love reading your articles sis! I love that pics you’ve added as well! Cossette was such a little cutie when she was a pup! Ah! 🙂 Do you have any info regarding cats too? 🙂

  3. Great article! I like the pictures, too!

    • Thank you, glad you read it and enjoyed it. I am glad you like the pictures too. Cosette starting starring in my photographs at a young age 🙂 About cats, yes actually I am hoping to write one on cats in the future but I am not sure when it will be done


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