The holidays are a fun time and pets might even enjoy some aspects of the season. They most likely love the extra attention, new toys, and dropped food. There are some extra risks during this time of year, however, and pet owners need to be aware of holiday-related dangers.

Keep food out of reach

Many types of “people food” can be toxic to dogs. Some are outright poisonous, including chocolate and macadamia nuts. Very fatty foods, common during the holidays, can lead to pancreatitis when large quantities are consumed. Sugar isn’t going to harm a pet in small amounts but that doesn’t mean you should share the holiday cookies. While raw bones can make decent treats, always avoid feeding cooked bones. Cooked bones, especially from poultry, can crack and splinter. This can lead to dangerous blockages.

Watch cords

Decorating for the holidays is fun but often involves lots of lights and electronics. This results in more cords throughout the home. If you have a puppy or another pet that tends to chew (house rabbits are common culprits), keep wires out of reach. Consider getting cord protectors from a home supplies store. Pet stores may also carry them, but often at a higher price. The best ones are made from tough, durable materials. Avoid the rubbery types with built-in repellents. These repellents, often bitter or citrus-flavored, are rarely enough to keep curious puppies away.

Secure decorations

Cats and dogs (plus the occasional house rabbit) tend to be curious about Christmas trees, wreaths, and other decorations. Block the tree off with a baby gate or other barrier, especially if you’ll be out of the house. A pet could knock the tree over, causing injuries, or attempt to eat decorations. This can be especially dangerous with tinsel or popcorn strings. Both entice pets but can be life-threatening when consumed.

Inform guests

Pets are more likely to escape during holidays and guests are a common cause. People who aren’t used to having animals around may inadvertently let a cat out or leave a door open. Guests may also try to share food with pets or accidentally leave a plate in a pet-accessible area. Don’t worry about being too harsh, it’s better to have informed guests and a safe pet.

The holidays can be especially fun when pets are included–many owners buy their pets gifts or give them extra attention during holiday breaks. There are some unique risks and challenges, however, and prevention can go a long way. Pet owners need to be aware of holiday-specific hazards before celebrations begin.