How to keep your pets safe and well over Christmas

Two bunnies eating grass in front of Christmas decorations

Make sure all your pets are happy bunnies this Christmas - Credit: Wood Green, The Animals Charity

The big build up to Christmas and the event itself is a fun time of year for us humans, but we need to ensure that our pets stay safe, happy, and comfortable, too.  

Experts from Wood Green animal charity have shared their top tips for how we can make our homes as safe as possible for our furry friends once the decs are up, and the table is heaving with festive treats. 

The much-loved charity has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity after featuring in the Channel 4 show The Dog House, which will air a festive special later this year.   

Here's what they suggest to make sure your companion animals have their happiest Christmas ever! 

Provide a safe space 


Ensure that your cats have their own safe space, especially if large groups of people are coming over. Giving the cat the choice to have some hiding places and spaces up high means they can watch what is happening from a safe distance, but also choose to come out if they wish. If your pets enjoy being outside a lot, then it might be worth considering a warm, dry area that they can take shelter in if needed. Your cat’s litter trays, food and water should be kept in a quiet area where they won’t be disturbed.  

A house full of visitors over the Christmas period will be quite busy and noisy, and this can be a worrying experience for dogs. Many dogs are also scared of the sound of party poppers or crackers being pulled, so during large family gatherings, it’s always a good idea to provide them with a safe space where no one will disturb them. 

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While a 'home alone box' is not a substitute for human companionship, it can help your dog to cope in periods where they'll be left on their own for short periods of time, and can contain things like a familiar-scented blanket, an activity toy and a safe, long-lasting chew. 

Small pets 
Fireworks tend to be lit around Christmas and New Years Eve, and this can be a terrifying experience for many pets. For small outdoor animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, ensure that they have their own safe space with plenty of bedding and hiding places. 

Although it’s tempting to treat our pets at Christmas to the same kind of tasty food we eat, we must remember that this can cause them to have an upset stomach, and could lead to weight gain.

Chocolate contains theobromine, and sweets can contain an artificial sweetener, both of which are toxic for dogs, so be mindful to place any treats out of reach from your pooch.

Toxic festive plants  

Be careful about what plants you put on display during the festive season. Some plants, such as poinsettias, holly berries, ivy, mistletoe, lilies, and rosemary can be toxic for your pets and can cause gastrointestinal upset, or even kidney failure if consumed.   

Christmas trees and other decorations 
Some pets - kittens especially - enjoy climbing Christmas trees. We recommend keeping the tree out of reach, or securely tie the tree to ensure it doesn't fall over. Hanging edible decorations, like chocolate, (which remember is poisonous to dogs) can cause health issues. If you are worried that your dog has consumed any chocolate during the festive season, please contact your vet immediately.  

Also be aware that many pets might be tempted to chew or play with decorations, especially those that are lower down the tree. Non-glass tree decorations are best, to avoid any smashed glass if your pet has managed to get hold of one. 

Presents that contain small pieces are at risk of being swallowed by some pets, and should be placed out of reach if your furry friend is prone to chewing. If you, your friends or family are gifted food items, it's best to keep these out of reach of your pets, too!

Cold weather 
If you’re looking to take a Christmas walk with your dog, it is worth noting that salt, rather than grit, when used on walking surfaces can make a dog's pads very sore, especially if they have a cut or graze on them. Keeping the hair between your dog’s toes short helps to reduce the risk of ice balls forming and causing discomfort in that area. For their safety, keep your dogs away from frozen lakes and rivers, too.   

Christmas gift ideas for your pets 
There’s plenty of gifts out there in pet shops, supermarkets and online retailers, but creating your own presents for your pets can be a fun, and cost-effective way of including them in your celebrations. 

We hope you and your pets have a very Merry Christmas and if you'd like to support the wonderful work of Wood Green please donate via