How to Dog-Proof Your Home for the Holidays

December 1st, 2022

Happy hounds in front of a Christmas tree

It’s that time of year when your boxes of holiday cheer make their way out of your closet. Excitement fills the air, and your dog can feel it too! They have a keen sense something new is happening, and as you take out your favorite holiday flair, you’ve captured their attention with all those glittery, sparkly objects.

And, of course, it’s their duty and nature to explore this interesting new goodness sprinkled across their home. Dogs love to utilize their sense of taste to gather as much info as possible, so they’re likely to give a little lick or take a nibble to figure out if your holiday decoration will be a tasty treat or their next play toy. In some cases, your little busybody’s snoopiness could lead to dangerous and harmful outcomes.

The last thing you want for your holiday season is your furry family member to end up with a bad belly, a trip to the Vet, or even the emergency room. That’s like ending up on Santa’s naughty list. Nobody wants that.

A healthy, safe holiday season is the best gift you could give your dog. Here’s how:

girl decorating tree with her dog

Christmas Trees


Christmas trees can easily topple over with the force of a large tail or by their normal excitable, rambunctious behavior with an accidental bump. A sturdy, high-quality stand can help anchor your tree to the ground more securely than a lightweight, plastic option. You could also tie some fishing line around the top of the tree and secure it to a small screw in the ceiling.

Watch for pine needles.

Pine needles can be a sneaky culprit – if your dog eats or chews on them, they can cut their mouth or pierce their intestines. Another alternative is to opt for an artificial tree.

Slurping Tree Water

Your Christmas tree water can contain fertilizers and over time, bacteria. You can wrap the top of the stand with aluminum foil or a secure plastic covering so they can’t get to it. There are stands available for purchase that come covered, making them pet safe.

Under the Tree

And all those presents piled beneath the tree. Many dogs will make it their mission to rip open gifts to see what is inside, not only will they ingest dangerous debris, but it now makes them the grinch who stole everyone’s happiness. Especially dangerous are curling ribbons that can block their intestines. Keep your gifts stored in a safe place until it’s time to open them.

dog with Christmas tree ornament

Holiday Decorations

String lights

Make sure it is hard for your dog to reach lights and cords. Your dog runs a potential of being electrocuted if they chew on the electrical line, which can also lead to a fire hazard. Using cord covers will help limit their access.


There are several ways ornaments can be a hazard to your dog.
Let’s start with metal hooks often used to hang ornaments. These can cause extreme damage to a dog’s intestines or mouth.

Fragile ornaments should be hung at the top of your tree. Your spirited pup may want to play with ornaments that hang on low branches making up their own little holiday game of ‘knock the most sentimental ornament off the tree!” Ornaments made of glass can fall and break, leading to cuts or other injuries.

Lastly, food ornaments like strung popcorn or candy canes are festive but will only entice your dog to help himself to an afternoon treat.


Tinsel is an enticing decoration for your dog with all its shiny appeal, but it is one of the most dangerous. Easily swallowed, tinsel can block your dog’s intestinal tract and possibly require surgery. If your pet ingests any tinsel, you should seek veterinary care immediately. For peace of mind, we suggest avoiding tinsel altogether.


All candles, menorahs or kinaras should be placed up high so your dog doesn’t accidentally knock it over by simply walking by or hitting a table. They can burn themselves with the hot wax or even start a fire.

dog with bone at the holiday table

Food & Drinks

Your table will be a tempting spread your pet will most certainly be drooling over (can you blame them?), and it will only take seconds before it will disappear! You will be surprised at how clever they can get to reach all these delicious dishes. Several foods can be very toxic – chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, raisins, grapes, onions, and macadamia nuts.

Small bones can pose a choking hazard or splinter, damaging or obstructing their intestinal tract.

Your guests may be unable to resist the stare down of their little eyes and indulge them in some table scraps, but all those excess fatty foods can lead to an upset stomach.

Poisonous plants

Amaryllis, poinsettias, holly berries, mistletoe, and potpourri, are all potentially toxic to your pets if digested. They may show signs of drooling, mouth sores, vomiting and diarrhea. If they are in your home make sure they are placed up high.

All in The Spirit of Safety

You may have taken all the precautions, but there is always the chance your dog will get into some holiday shenanigans you couldn’t predict. It’s best to keep your veterinarian’s number handy, along with the number of the animal poison control center, in case of emergency.

dogs with elf hat and reindeer antlers

‘Tis the Season of Stress

Let’s take a moment to unwrap one last point. While we love this time of gathering, visiting, and welcoming family and friends into our home, the added noise and unknown people on their sacred turf can be an added stress for your furry friend. We suggest providing a quiet, safe place to hang out, and since they’ve been a good dog all year, let them open one gift early – like that new toy that will help keep them distracted and happy.

Traveling this holiday season? We have the perfect prep tips for both flying and driving.

Happy Holidays from all your friends at Happy Hound!