Top Tips To Paw-Proof Your Home Over The Festive Season

Keeping pets safe and healthy in the home over the festive season can be a challenge, with an abundance of hidden dangers in the form of Yuletide treats, tinsel and fairy lights to tempt your pet into mischief. 

According to Vets Now, last year saw a 41% spike in pet emergencies over the Christmas holidays, with over a third of those caused by pets eating novelty festive items. What’s more, an astonishing 69% of vets treated dogs for chocolate poisoning, with the other most commonly reported cases of foreign body ingestion being raisins and sultanas (45%) and Christmas decorations (10%).

dog safety

To avoid a trip to the animal emergency room, Kellie Ceccarelli, IAMS Veterinary Training Manager, shares her top tips to keep your home safe from prying paws and ensure you enjoy a happy, healthy holiday with your beloved pet.

Holly and Mistletoe

Pets love to sniff and nibble at new plants in the home. When decking the halls, avoid using seasonal greenery, such as holly and mistletoe. These plants are poisonous to both dogs and cats.

Christmas Decorations

Hang decorations like tinsel, fairy lights and enticing edible decorations off the lower branches of the tree. As well as being choking hazard, ingesting tinsel and other decorations can potentially block your pet’s intestines, which can lead to surgical intervention. Moreover, while scented candles and incense add a warm, wintery glow to the home, once lit they should be placed on high shelves or mantels, well out of reach of a pet’s wagging tail.

Party Guests

With social gatherings galore, Christmas can be a stressful time for pets – especially if they’re nervous around strangers. If you’re hosting a party, create a haven for your pet where they can escape to when the house is full. Include their favourite blanket and one or two familiar toys.


Last year, almost a quarter of vets saw cases of cats that had drunk antifreeze. An essential in icy temperatures, take care to keep antifreeze safely shut away. Also watch out for novelty festive items, such as snow globes. They may contain antifreeze, which can be fatal to animals when ingested.

Indulgent Festive Treats

While you might think sneaking your furry friend a tasty titbit from your Christmas dinner is a special treat, it could have serious consequences for their health. Among the top seasonal treats to keep those little paws away from include:

Mince Pies and Christmas Pudding

These are packed full of currants, raisins and sultanas. These are harmful to dogs, and are also full of fat and suet, which can give pets severe stomach issues. It may even lead to pancreatitis.


Avoid leaving glasses of mulled wine and eggnog within reach of curious cats and nosy dogs, as even as little as a tablespoon of alcohol can be poisonous to pets.

Turkey Bones

Bones leftover from your roast turkey risk splintering. This can cause trauma to your pets’ gums. They may get lodged in the roof of the mouth, throat, stomach, intestine or rectum.

dog safety 

If you really want to treat your pet this Christmas, IAMS has a range of lip-licking options. Available in mouth-watering festive flavours, including lamb and cranberry, IAMS Minis dog snacks are low in fat. They’re also made without gluten to provide a tasty and healthy snack for pampered pooches. Meanwhile, IAMS Delights make a paws-itively purr-fect stocking filler for festive felines! With a range of seasonal flavours, including chicken and turkey in gravy, IAMS Delights is free from added artificial flavours and colourings. It has an irresistible meaty taste your cat will love.

 dog safety

For year-round health and wellbeing, opt for a 100% complete and balanced nutrition with high quality animal proteins from chicken and turkey, our number one ingredients. Available in succulent roast chicken, IAMS Proactive Health contains 47% more animal protein for cats and 24% more protein for dogs than the top two leading brands and will leave pets licking their lips with delight.

Finally, if you’re worried about your pet’s health during the holidays, make sure you have the nearest vet’s holiday opening hours and contact details to hand – especially if you’re visiting friends and family away from home.

For more information please visit or IAMS UK on Facebook.

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This post is in collaboration with IAMS. Read my full disclosure here.


  1. December 19, 2017 / 6:31 pm

    I am always surprised at how many things are dangerous for cats, that we do have lying around our homes, even just things like plants and flowers – really interesting post 🙂

  2. December 19, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    I guess just like kids animals can also get into situations so its a good idea to pet proof the house.I don’t think many people think of this.

  3. Hayley Atkins
    December 28, 2017 / 8:12 am

    Lots of useful info.We always keep chocolate,etc well out of reach,as well as making sure that our thieving little wotsits cant help themselves to turkey,etc.

  4. Rachell Craig
    December 30, 2017 / 10:38 pm

    I love to treat the pets to gifts at Christmas. It is their Christmas too. Thanks for the info, pets are precious and we need to behave responsibly in regards to their welfare. Christmas can be such a busy time, thanks for aiming to keep us up to date with relevant pet care information.

  5. Charlotte Pashley-Foy
    January 2, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    I wish I’d have seen this while my mum’s pooches were here over Christmas, I know all the food they shouldn’t eat but they were menaces with my decorations!

  6. Rachel Atkinson
    January 13, 2018 / 6:07 pm

    Lots of good tips 🙂

  7. Fiona jk42
    January 14, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    Lots of good information in your post. It’s so important to be aware of items that can be dangerous for pets. Many years ago one of our cats ate a piece of string that I had left lying around after tying a parcel. The vet told us on no account to try pulling the string out as this could damage the cat’s internal organs. Instead, I had to restrict the cat to a litter box, and each time she did a poo, to cut off any protruding string with scissors. I had to store the bits of string in a plastic bag in order to gauge whether all the string had been passed safely. Luckily all the string came out naturally and we avoided surgery, but I learned a valuable lesson and have since then been much more careful.

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