Kids And Pets: Tips For A Safe And Peaceful Holiday

Season’s Greetings! The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy for many of us. For children, the holiday season is the highlight of the year. We also love seeing cute seasonal pictures of kids and pets. While Fluffy and Fido can make great cuddle buddies, there is also a lot of room for mishaps, mischief, and miscommunication, especially with very young children. A local Smyrna, GA vet offers some insightful tips on helping kids and pets get through the season smoothly in this article.

Decorations: Safety Issues For Kids And Pets

Those pretty holiday decorations can be dangerous for both kids and pets. For the most part, the same general petproofing protocols should apply to both.

First and foremost: anything small and sharp should be considered a choking hazard. As a general rule of thumb, anything that is smaller than the hole in a toilet paper roll should be considered unsafe. Ropy or stringy items are also a hazard. That includes things like lights, tinsel, garlands, popcorn strands, and ribbons.

The tree itself can also pose a hazard. If you have a real tree, just use plain water in the bowl. The tree store may have given you a packet of ‘food’, but that is most likely going to contain chemicals that are not safe for your pet. In fact, you may even want to cover the bowl, as it could contain traces of things like pesticides, herbicides, or fire retardants. It’s also important to pick up fallen needles and tinsel, as these are also choking hazards. They can also cause serious internal injuries if swallowed.

Decorating carefully can help here. Don’t put anything small or fragile on the bottom part of the tree. Shiny, breakable objects should be on the top portion of the tree, as should anything with ropes or strings. Candles and fireplaces are dangerous for both children and pets. If you have a fireplace, use a thick grate in front of the fireplace. Keep candles in high, secure spots, where  your furry friend can’t get to them.


Holiday plants add a special, seasonal touch to any room or house. Unfortunately, many of them are toxic to both children and pets. Some of the more dangerous ones include poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe, and peace lilies, which are deadly to cats. If you choose any of these, keep them in high, secure spots.


Keep in mind that many popular children’s gifts are dangerous to pets. Anything with small pieces, such as action figures, dolls’ clothes, batteries, small accessories, or other bits and pieces, is unsafe. If you have a dog, keep Fido in mind before buying stuffed animals. Our canine buddies often can’t resist plushies. You don’t want your pup eyeing the stuffed polar bear you got your nephew … that could lead to scuffles. (After everyone has finished wrapping their gifts, remember to give your cat some of the empty boxes.)

Food Safety For Kids And Pets

Those delicious meals can also be a bit dangerous. Very young children can choke on things like hard candies, but in this case it’s pets that are in more danger. Many of our favorite foods, such as chocolate, garlic, onion, grapes, and raisins, are poisonous to our animal companions. Meat on the bone is also unsafe, as are raw dough, avocado, anything with seeds or pips, and items that contain xylitol and/or a lot of salt, sugar, or fat. Ask your Smyrna, GA veterinarian for more information on this.

One thing to be careful of is the fact that kids will sometimes try to share ‘goodies’ with their furry pals, often without realizing what is and isn’t safe for them. This innocent mistake can lead to tragic results. Older kids may understand this, but you’ll need to keep a very close eye on little ones.

Keep Things Calm

Our canine buddies tend to take their door doggy duties very seriously. Fido may get a bit too excited when it comes to greeting people. Small kids can get frightened, and may even get knocked over. Take your pooch for a vigorous walk and play session to help burn off those zoomies before your company arrives. If your furry bff is super excitable, you may want to bring him outside or to a larger room for those meet and greets.

Encourage Good Behavior And Petiquette

Ideally, this should be something you work on all the time. Make sure Fido knows basic commands, such as Sit, Stay, and Come. 

It’s also important to teach children the proper way to pet our furry friends. The biggest thing is to make sure they know to never force attention on a pet. If your furry companion seems uneasy, give them space, and make sure they have a comfy space to retreat to. Always go in the direction of Fluffy and Fido’s fur, and avoid pulling tails, ears, or whiskers.

Children can be taught to gently offer a treat, but may have to be shown how to hold it (palms up, fingers outstretched.)

Keep in mind that tired pets are good pets. Help your furry friend burn off those zoomies with a vigorous play session before company arrives. 

Err On The Side Of Caution

Always supervise interactions between pets and children carefully and watch for even the slightest signs of unease. It’s worth mentioning that children are more often bitten by dogs than older humans. That may well be in part because of their size, but also because they sometimes make Fido uneasy. Toddlers sometimes move quickly, and they can be pretty loud. At some stages, their toys may also look quite a lot like pet toys, which can lead to confusion and even scuffles. It’s also worth noting that some dogs and children will do better than others.

Dogs are the bigger safety concern here, though kitties can still cause injuries with those sharp claws. Kids can also harm smaller animals by holding or picking them up wrong. (They can also cause injuries by falling on them, though there really aren’t many foolproof ways to prevent that.)


It’s important to note that kids are more often victims of dog bites than adults. This is likely due to their smaller size and their tendency to move quickly and make loud/high-pitched noises, which can unsettle Fido. Larger dogs of course pose more of a risk than small ones, but at the end of the day it’s really Fido’s personality that matters most. Some pups are bombproof, and will barely bat an eye if a little one falls right on top of them or uses them as a pillow. Other pooches are more high-strung, and have much shorter fuses. However, even a Chihuahua bite can result in injury.


As a final note,  If you know or suspect that your canine buddy may be fearful, reactive, and/or aggressive, take a few extra precautions. We also recommend being super careful with newly adopted dogs, as you may not be familiar with Fido’s quirks and pet peeves yet. 

Happy Holidays! Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions about your pet’s health or care. As your local Smyrna, GA animal clinic, we’re here to help!

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