Tips to keep your pets safe this holiday season

The PEI Humane Society is reminding pet owners to be cautious around the holidays — when their pets could be more vulnerable to mishaps.

'They can get into all kinds of trouble'

The PEI Humane Society cautions that some holiday treats and decorations can pose a threat to your pet. (@Grandmasterdiva)

The PEI Humane Society is reminding pet owners to be cautious around the holidays — when their pets could be more vulnerable to mishaps.

Jennifer Harkness, the development co-ordinator with the society, is offering tips to owners for the holidays.

She says that during this time of year, pet owners should be alert with things like food and decorations that might pose a threat to their pets.

While the holidays are a wonderful time, she said, it's important to be aware of what toxins are present in the home and make sure that pets aren't under-supervised when near those items.

"They can get into all kinds of trouble," she said.

Here are some of her tips:


It's important to keep an eye on your pets around holiday decor, Jennifer Harkness advises.
  • Do not use tinsel if you have cats. They're attracted to it, and it can be dangerous for them: "It can get stuck in their intestines and they may be required to have surgery."
  • Avoid using garland: "Recently there was a story on Facebook where we heard about a kitten actually getting intertwined with the garland and almost choking. The owner luckily was able to save that kitten in time."
  • Food on the tree isn't recommended, especially if you have a "food-motivated" pet in your home.


  • Don't have open chocolate around if you have a dog, as it can be very toxic to them.
  • Make sure there are no turkey or chicken bones left around. If ingested, they can get stuck in the throat, or can cause splinters for dogs or cats.
  • Onions can cause anemia in pets.
  • Grapes and raisins and cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Macadamia nuts could also be very toxic to pets.

If an owner knows that their pet has ingested any of these items, they should call their veterinarian immediately, and they'll be able to advise them on how to proceed, Harkness said.


  • If you have an anxious pet, or a pet that isn't comfortable around new people, when having people over to your home, make sure your pet has a safe space to go to where they can be calm and relaxed.

  • When travelling by car, a safety belt for your dog is recommended — especially with slippery roads in the winter.

  • In the cold weather, make sure your pets don't get cracks in their feet. Booties and ointments for paws can be useful.

  • For your driveway in the winter, be sure to use special salt you can get at pet stores which is safe for pets and doesn't hurt their paws.

A good time to adopt

The holidays could also be a good time to adopt a pet, Harkness said.

Cat owners should avoid decorating their Christmas trees with tinsel and garlands, says Harkness. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"We have heard that before — the myth that you shouldn't adopt over the holidays and pets shouldn't be given as gifts ... I think it's not that simple," she said.

"I think that over the holidays can be a good time to adopt a pet depending on your household. It can be a time where people are home more, the whole family is there, they have time to spend with an animal.... It can be a really great time."

She recommends, however, that if you want to get a pet as a gift for someone, to purchase an adoption gift certificate and allow the recipient to choose the pet.