Holiday Hazards

Holidays are usually great fun for humans and can be fun for dogs too. But many holidays have aspects that can be dangerous, even deadly, to dogs if the humans don't take appropriate precautions.

Holiday Hazards

by Pam Green, © 2013

I will first discuss factors that can be common to several holidays, then I will go through the year from January to December. There's some redundancy in this article, but better to read something twice than to miss it entirely.

I am limiting this to holidays celebrated in the USA and limiting religious holidays to the main Christian and Jewish ones. These limits are due to my ignorance of other holidays, but if you read through this article you can probably notice potential hazards in those holidays you celebrate that are not on this list.

factors present at more than one holiday

Food factors




particular holidays by the calendar

I am only listing those that I consider to have potential hazards

New Year's Eve and Day

The main hazzards are those associated with guests who are likely to be drinking or drugging and who may be careless with doors

In some locations there may be fireworks ; make sure to investigate your own location and possible proximity to fireworks.

Valentine's Day

It's mainly the chocolate, and perhaps candies containing xylitol.

I suppose also the possibility that your new "significant other" doesn't like dogs and may seize a romantic moment to tell you "the dog goes or I go". (in which case your answer should be "I'm sorry to hear that, I will miss you, don't let the door hit you in the butt as you leave")


It's the chocolate, especially during Easter Egg Hunt, where the dog's nose will find the goodies much quicker than the humans can find them Don't give bunnies or chickies or ducklings as gifts.

Plants associated with Easter are lilies, which are toxic to dogs and hugely toxic to cats.

Also possible that someone will give you baby chickens or ducklings or rabbits, which your dog may chase and kill, thus bringing disapproval upon himself.


If the dog finds the aficomen (matzoh hidden for children to find and claim a prize), the children will be dissappointed. Don't leave the front door open for Elijah.

Fourth of July (or Bastille Day in France and Quebec)

The fireworks can utterly terrify some dogs. Every year some dogs bolt from their home and some are never seen again or get hit by cars.


The candy, especially the chocolate and xylitol.

But also some dogs can be frightened by the "monsters", ie costumed kids. And the frequent opening of the front door is an oppertunity for dog to escape into danger.


The temptation to share all that good food, especially fatty turkey skin and gravy.

Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving, but about a month earlier than the USA does. Other cultures and religions have their own Harvest festival celebrations, because having enough food stored away to get through the winter is always worth celebrating.


I don't see any real danger here unless you are very careless about location of the menorah with its burning candles.

Various food issues and perhaps candy issues.


Chocolate again.

Guests. If guest brings a gift, be sure to ask if it contains any food or anything that might be dangerous to a pet and therefore should be placed safely out of reach of pets.

Holiday food, similar to Thanksgiving. Presents placed under the tree (especially by guests) might contain food .

Plants : pointsettia and mistletoe.

The tree and electric lighting , ornaments, ornament hangers, etc can be an issue. The dog might chew the electric cords or drink possibly toxic chemicals in the tree's water or eat pine needles. Ornaments could be especially tempting to any "ball crazy dog", possibhly breaking in the dog's mouth , possibly being swallowed. Broken glass on the floor. Obviously do not deck the tree with any edible ornaments such as popcorn or cranberriy strings : the string is hugely dangerous if swallowed (:linear body intestinal obstruction" is easily fatal if not gotten to surgery in time.).
Presents placed under the tree may contain hazzards, mostly food hazards, but also such gifts as chemistry sets (blessings on my aunt who gave one to me jointly with my brother, part of the start of science interests for us both). Dogs who are chewers, especially puppies, could eat Leggo or Lincoln Logs or other such gifts.
Generally speaking I'd advise putting the tree in a room where dogs will not have any unsupervised access. Buy yourself some stretch gates as an early Xmas present.
Be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy near the tree, avoid placing tree near active fireplace or burning candles. Turn off the electric lighting strings when no one is present to observe. And please remove tree from home before it dries out enough to be a fire hazzard (I've been guilty there myself.)

Never give a puppy or kitten or any animal as a holday gift, especially to a child, unless you have already throughly discussed plans with all human members of the household and they all are committed to this pet for the rest of its life. A puppy or kitten is as serious a commitment as a child and almost as serious as a marriage partner.

And always remember that "God" spelled backwards is "Dog" !. (Note to cats : it's not "cat", even though you think you should be worshiped.)

particular celebrations that could be any time of year

birthday parties

Food issues, guest issues,


Food issues, guest issues, muddy paws issues

Is your dog well schooled enough at retrieve and carry to act as your Flower Girl/Boy or as Ring Bearer ? Is your dog Best Buddy and/or Being of Honor ?

Be damn sure your dogs and your spouse really truely like one another and your spouse understands that he/she is marrying your dogs as well as yourself. A dog is truely for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part. A spouse is , alas, only until divorce do you part, as it does for 50% of marriages (well that's the man-woman variety of marriage ; time will tell if same sex couples do any better.)

(Note to horsewomen, make sure that your groom understands that he will also be your groom (horse groom) and that you are already wedded to your horse.)

Perhaps wedding vows should inclued vows to love and honor the partner's belovded animals ? Yes !!!


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site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 12/10/2013 revised 12/30/2014
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