Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Keep your pets safe this holiday season

The holiday season is a joyful time for many who want to include their pets in the festivities by sharing treats from the dinner table and having them be a part of the celebrations. This season also means that dog owners are often taking their pets outdoors in below zero weather conditions.

Here are some tips to keep your pet safe indoors and outdoors this winter:

Adventures outdoors: walks and trips to off-leash parks
  • Check the temperature and forecast before you leave the house to ensure that you and your pet are properly prepared for the winter weather conditions. (Paws, ears and tails are all susceptible to frost bite, similar to exposed human skin.) Consider purchasing your pet booties or paw covers.
  • Picking up after your dog is vital no matter the weather conditions. Dog waste attracts mice, coyotes and other wildlife to urban areas. While it can be more difficult to pick up dog waste from snow, it is still the law. Gloves (versus mittens) can be easier to maneuver poop bags
  • Even if there is snow on the ground, dogs are only allowed off-leash in designated off-leash areas. Your pet must be leashed in parking lots and on shared pathways. If you’re unsure due to snow or other elements, keep your dog leashed until you’re certain.
  • Dogs are often excited about fresh snow! No matter the season, owners must ensure their dog is under control at all times. This means the dog must remain at a distance where they will respond to owner voice, sound or sight commands. It means the dog must not chase, threaten or attack people or animals.
  • If travelling with your dog in a vehicle, remember that when the engine is turned off, your vehicle essentially becomes a refrigerator (temperatures drop significantly).
  • City dogs are domesticated and not necessarily climatized to extreme weather conditions. Even northern breeds aren’t necessarily used to being outside for extended periods of time in freezing temperatures. Use caution.
Indoor festivities: considerations for homes with pets


  • Leftover food that is rich, spicy or fatty can be hard for pets to digest.
  • Many foods are toxic or harmful for pets, including: turkey bones, artificial sweeteners and other baking ingredients, chocolate and alcohol.
  • Secure the lid on your garbage can or put your garbage outside right after the meal.


  • Poinsettias, Christmas cactus and holly are toxic to cats and dogs. 
  • Secure your Christmas tree if you have pets that like to climb.
  • Hang breakable ornaments higher on your tree.
  • With natural trees, make sure pets don’t drink the water.
  • Shiny tinsel and ribbons are appealing for cats, but if swallowed can cause serious injury or lead to surgery. 
  • Unplug holiday lights and extension cords prior to leaving your home. 
  • Don’t put candy or chocolates under the tree.  


  • While hosting parties, give your pet a safe and quiet place to retreat.
  • Be mindful as guests come and go as it’s easy for pets to slip out unnoticed.

It is important to call your veterinarian or take your pet directly to an animal health facility if you suspect your pet has eaten any toxic foods or substances. Check out the Responsible Pet Ownership Page for additional pet safety tips and information about off-leash areas.

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