Keeping your dog safe this Christmas

Dog on a chair in front of a fireplace and some christmas presents

It's the most wonderful time of the year for many, but the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas can be a sensory overload for your dog.

From unexpected visitors to over-zealous family members, and endless food temptations – there is a lot for your dog (and you!) to cope with. We've put together a useful guide to helping your four-legged friends enjoy the festivities to the full whilst staying healthy and happy.

On this page:

Preparing for Christmas

Keep wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth away from your dog when you are gift wrapping, dressing the tree and putting your decorations up. If your dog eats them, it can cause severe problems.

Your dog might get confused by having a 'tree' in their home, so could urinate on it as it is used to doing this on trees outside. Our Dog School guide to house training your dog is full of great advice if you need to refresh your dog's training.

When planning your celebrations, be mindful of the loud noises your dog may be around. Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing so consider avoiding crackers and party poppers. If prosecco or champagne is on the menu, make sure you keep your dog at a distance when you're popping the cork.

Throughout the Christmas holidays and especially at New Year, there will be fireworks. There are lots of things you can do to help your dog keep calm, particularly by creating a safe and secure den for them to go to if they would like to.

Find out more about preparing your dog for fireworks

Coping with visitors

On the days you're having guests over, it's important to stick to your daily routine as much as possible, for example feed and exercise times. If you've kept to your normal routine the chances are your dog will be nice and relaxed by the time they arrive. You can also help your dog to stay calm by giving them a distraction when your guests first arrive, for example a long-lasting treat such as a food-stuffed Kong.

If children are coming who aren't used to being around dogs (or your dog isn't used to children), have a chat with the family beforehand to make sure the children understand how to behave, for example, to be calm, and not to approach the dog especially if it is eating or sleeping. It's important to never leave a child alone with a dog.

Make sure your dog has somewhere they go for peace and quiet with his doggie bed and fresh water when the festivities get too much. They'll return when they are ready to be part of the fun again!

Read our advice on teaching children to Be Dog Smart at Christmas >

Christmas food and treats

Most of us like to indulge over Christmas – and so do our dogs, but you need to make sure they stick to dog-friendly treats.

Festive food safety for dogs  

What to avoid

The below list is just a few examples of things your dog might encounter over the festive period which are not safe for them to eat.

  • Grapes, raisins or sultanas (& wine)
  • Chocolate - don't forget chocolate decorations on the tree are easy pickings
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mince pies & Christmas pudding
  • Rich fatty foods/fat trimmings
  • Cooked bones from Christmas meats
  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Holly berries
  • Alcohol
  • Xylitol - an artificial sweetener found in some sugar-free foods

For a full list, download our factsheet:

What is Poisonous to Your Dog DOC 325 KB

Christmas treats for dogs

If you do want to give your dog a Christmas treat, we've devised a delicious, healthy and Veterinary approved three course Doggy Christmas Menu – especially designed with dogs in mind.

Our delicious festive menu includes Mistletoe & Mutt's Egg Nog, Cranberry and Turkey Gobble Gobble Festive Stew and Blitzen's Banana Biscuits.

Watch our recipe video