Pet Safety During the Holidays in Oakland, CA

Holiday pet safety isn’t just about keeping your pet away from chocolate and table scraps (although you should do that, too!). Other elements of the festive season can be dangerous for pets. Decorations and gift wrap, in particular, are all over the house, and who can blame our pets for being curious? Help your whole family have a safe and happy season with our animal hospital's holiday pet safety tips in mind!

a dog laying in red tissue paper next to a christmas tree

Gift Wrap and Packaging

Tis the season for giving, and many of us and our families will be exchanging gifts that will be torn open with glee to reveal the wonder beneath. For pets, this nonchalant ripping and tearing can look like a lot of fun, which can lead them to rip and tear with their teeth. Unfortunately, gift wrap doesn’t hold up well in slobbery mouths, and it’s all too easy for your pet to inadvertently swallow a piece (or several). Even a small amount can cause an intestinal blockage! So make sure to clean up the paper right away!

Also keep in mind that other gift wrap items like ribbons and bows, as well as packaging pieces like tape, cardboard, and plastic pieces, can all easily be lost in the shuffle of gift-giving. Any of these can become a curious (and dangerous) snack! Make sure to keep your pet out of the area until you’ve cleaned up.


Many of the festive items you decorate your home with can be dangerous if pets get their paws on them. Be sure to decorate with care and keep these items out of reach:

  • Tinsel. This shiny, stingy decoration is like a cat-magnet. They love to swat and bite at it, but the delicate pieces don’t hold up well. Kitty can easily swallow it and suffer from an intestinal obstruction.
  • Candles. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, open flames are always a serious safety risk. It's all too easy for your dog or cat to knock over a candle or brush against it. If you can, place candles in secure holders that are far out of your pet's reach, or opt for artificial candles instead.
  • Festive plants. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, lilies, and many other fest plants are actually poisonous to pets if eaten. Keep all of these plants well out of reach, or choose safe artificial alternatives instead.
  • Electric lights. The sparking bulbs and the stringy cords look like excellent chew toys, but they can cause severe burns and electrocution.
  • The Christmas tree. The needles carry an oil that is irritating to pets’ skin, particularly if it gets caught in their paws, so make sure to sweep up fallen needles often. What’s more is that it can easily topple over when a cat tries to climb it or a dog yanks at an ornament, so anchor to the floor or secure it from the ceiling.

For more holiday pet safety tips, call our veterinarian at (510) 339-2041! We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season!

Cat in a Christmas tree