Posted on December 21, 2023

Pet Care Services offers tips for enjoying a happy, healthy and safe vacation with your companion animal.


San Antonio (December 21, 2023) – Now that the holidays are here. People will spend more time indoors for entertainment. Residents want to include their pets in the fun. But that can mean trouble without a few preliminary precautions. By following these simple tips from San Antonio Animal Care Services (SAACS), our four-legged friends can have a happy and bright holiday:

Holiday pet treats

  • Pay attention to your companion animal. Pets are often overlooked in the rush and excitement of the holidays. This can lead to riots.

  • Not sure how your pet will react to all the new faces in the house? Pets may act aggressively and bite or scratch out of fear. Create a safe, comfortable place for your pet to rest. Make sure you have plenty of fresh food, water and toys.

  • Play with your dog or cat at least twice a day for twenty minutes. A tired pet is less likely to make a mess or do something “out of bounds.”

  • Use baby gates to cut off access to “restricted” areas.

  • Let your pet enjoy the holidays too with some new toys or treats. Not all pets will tolerate festive sweaters, holiday hats, or even decorative collars.

Common food hazards

  • Holiday items should be kept away from your pets. Chocolate, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and candy or gum with artificial sweetener xylitol are all dangerous and potentially fatal to pets.

  • Giving pets alcohol — even a sip or two — is dangerous and can be fatal.

  • Remember, poultry bones are a choking hazard, and they can explode.

  • It may be tempting, but don’t give your pet food away from the table. Holiday foods such as tamales, ham, or menudo can be hard on your pet’s stomach and cause diarrhea and vomiting. No one wants to take their pet to the emergency clinic and spend the holidays cleaning up pet messes or worse!

Other vacation risks

  • Common holiday plants such as lilies, mistletoe, and holly are very toxic to pets. Poinsettias are not that poisonous but can cause stomach upset if eaten.

  • Ditch the gift-wrapped picture of your pet and keep them out of your stash. Ribbon, foil wrappers, and cellophane candy wrappers can be a choking hazard and can cause intestinal obstruction if swallowed.

  • Flashing lights can be a big attraction for curious pets. Live trees often contain fertilizers, manure or other additives that can make your pet sick. Use decorative gates or other means to keep your pets away from the tree to prevent climbing and other hazards.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, take your pet to a veterinarian or an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) poison control center immediately. Call 1-888-426-4435, 24 hours a day. 7 days a week (charges may apply).