Because your dog is special to you, you want him to share all the special times in your life, including holidays. But to your dog, every day spent with you is a holiday, and he may not be able to appreciate or understand the strange people, noises, things and goings-on associated with holiday celebrations. Here are some ways to keep your dog safe and happy during those festive times.

General Tips

  • Stick as closely as possible to your normal routine. Try not to vary your dog’s feeding, walking, and playtime schedule.
  • Don’t give your dog scraps from the picnic table or holiday buffet. Cookies and pies, macaroni salads and stuffing, potato chips and fancy hors d’oeuvres, are inappropriate foods for dogs and may make them sick.
  • If you host a party, remember that some guests may be uncomfortable around dogs. Your dog may, in turn, be uncomfortable or frightened around a large group of unfamiliar people. You may want to confine him in a crate or a room that will not be used by guests. Otherwise, keep him by your side, or with another family member, to keep him from getting into trouble or underfoot.
  • No matter how fun the party gets, never ever give your dog alcohol.

Fourth of July

  • Few dogs appreciate the spectacle of Fourth of July fireworks. The loud noises may be upsetting or even uncomfortable to your dog’s sensitive ears.
  • If you are going out to see fireworks, leave your dog at home.
  • If fireworks can be heard from your house, and they appear to bother your dog, take your dog to a quiet room and sit with him until he calms down.
  • If your dog has a history of negative reactions to loud noises, talk to your veterinarian ahead of time for techniques to make the night easier.
  • Check out our Summer Safety tips as well!


  • Turkey bones can pose a choking hazard for dogs. Do not give turkey bones to your dog.
  • Keep an eye on the holiday table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your dog from foraging among the holiday foods.


  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs. Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach.
  • Do not put lights on the lower branches of your tree. They may get very hot and burn your dog.
  • Watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place them out of reach.
  • Avoid glass ornaments, which break easily and may cut a dog’s feet or mouth.
  • Do not use edible ornaments, or cranberry or popcorn strings. Your dog may knock the tree over in an attempt to reach them.
  • Keep other ornaments off the lower branches; if your dog chews or eats an ornament, he can be made sick by the materials or paint.
  • Both live and artificial tree needles are sharp and indigestible. Keep your tree blocked off (with a playpen or other “fence”) or in a room that is not accessible to your dog.
  • Tinsel can be dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.
  • Keep burning candles on high tables or mantels, out of the way of your dog’s wagging tail.
  • Review canine holiday gifts for safety. Small plastic toys or bones may pose choking hazards.
  • Your dog may want to investigate wrapped packages; keep them out of reach.
  • See our Winter Care guide for more advice.