Home » Pet Wellness » Winter Hazards for Pets, Inside and Outside
Pet Wellness

Winter Hazards for Pets, Inside and Outside

Nothing can spoil holiday festivities faster than an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic. Here are some helpful holiday tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association  to keep your pets safe – inside and out – during the holidays.


  • Keep people food out of reach of your pet and ask your guests to do the same. Treats, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes, raisins, onions, or garlic can be toxic to pets.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in a room with lit candles, a decorated tree, or potpourri.  Also, keep holly, mistletoe, and lilies out of reach.
  • Secure your Christmas tree to prevent it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs up it. Hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it. Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree if you have a cat. 
  • Provide a safe, quiet place for your pet to escape the excitement (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, or scratching post shelf) when entertaining. If your pet is excitable or scared, consider putting it in another room with some toys and a comfortable bed, and check on it regularly.


  • Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather, but no pet should be left outside for long periods in below-freezing weather without access to water and shelter. Consider using booties for your pet, making sure they fit properly.
  • Consider using pet-safe de-icers and antifreeze, and prevent poisoning by cleaning up antifreeze spills immediately. Even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly.
  • De-icers, antifreeze, and other chemicals are toxic and may become trapped on your pet’s paws. Once inside, wash your pet’s feet, legs, and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the potential for poisoning.
  • Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine.  A warm vehicle engine is an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats.

For more tips on keeping your best friends safe during the holidays and the cold weather months, visit avma.org/ColdWeather or avma.org/Holiday.

Next article