Holiday Pet Safety

Holiday Safety Tips

Holidays are a time when families come together to celebrate and pets are usually included in the festivities. It’s important for pet parents to know that some holidays can be stressful or dangerous for your furry friend though. These handy tips will help ensure every holiday is enjoyable for you and your pet! 

Firework Displays

  • Do not, under any circumstances, bring your dog to a fireworks display.
  • If you live near the location of a fireworks display, leave your pet inside and try using a white noise machine or playing soft music to help calm your pet and block the sounds of the fireworks.
  • If your pet is particularly fearful of fireworks make every effort to stay inside with them.
  • Be proactive and exercise your dog before the fireworks commence. A tired dog is less anxious.
  • If you plan to stay inside with your pet, try to stay in a familiar environment.
  • Be sure all pets, including indoor cats, wear current ID tags. Consider microchipping your pet if they are not already.
  • You can also stuff a Kong or other work-to-eat toy with special treats for your dog to work on during the fireworks. This can also help your pet associate the scary noises with good things.
  • Do not punish your pet during times of stress as this can only make the problem worse. It is perfectly acceptable, and advisable, to comfort your pet when they are fearful.
  • If it is absolutely necessary to be outside with dogs during fireworks displays, ensure each dog is secure on a leash or harness.

Mardi Gras

Avoid taking your pet to any parades. The large crowds can be very stressful for your pet. If you plan to attend any parades with your pet, consider the dog-friendly Barkus parade.


  • Candy is for your children with two legs, not four!
    • Chocolate and candies can be toxic to your pets so be sure to keep that candy bowl out of your pet’s reach.
    • Candy containing chocolate or the sweetener xylitol can be especially upsetting to your pet.
    • Animals can experience upset stomachs, vomiting and diarrhea after a candy binge – if your pet gets into the candy bowl and displays severe cases of any of these symptoms, take your pet to an emergency vet!
    • Likewise, Halloween plants like pumpkins and corn can give your pet a stomach ache if consumed excessively! Although non-toxic, these plants can cause discomfort for your pet if ingested.
  • Only dress your pet in a costume if they enjoy it!
    • If your pet clearly dislikes being in a costume, don’t force them to wear one. It can cause undue stress on your animal.
      • Watch for signs of distress, including:
        • tucked tail
        • ears back
        • trembling
        • whimpering
        • growling
        • pulling away
    • If your pet is going to wear a costume, make sure it doesn’t retrict their ability to move, see, breathe, bark or meow.
      • Make sure there are no small pieces on the costume that your pet can chew off and swallow.
      • Give your pet a trial run with the costume before Halloween so they can get accustomed to the costume.
        • Let your pet sniff and investigate the costume before dressing
        • Give your pet treats during your “dress rehearsal” to associate positivity with the costume
      • Pets should be closely supervised when they are wearing costumes.
  • Bring all pets indoors before the trick-or-treating begins.
    • Outdoor cats and dogs left in the backyard can fall victim to Halloween pranks.
  • Keep your pet away from the front door and the trick-or-treaters.
    • With so many strangers coming to your door, this will help keep your pet’s stress level down and reduce the chance of your pet running away.
  • Keep pumpkins with candles, wires and cords from holiday decorations out of your pet’s reach.
  • Make sure your pet has proper ID tags and is microchipped in case they get separated from you!

Thanksgiving & Christmas

  • Avoid feeding your pet scraps from your holiday meal as many contain ingredients that can be harmful to your pet.
  • If you give your pet turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked.
  • It can be life-threatening for your pet to eat raw bread dough. Also keep your pet away from Thanksgiving or Christmas desserts containing chocolate or raw eggs.
  • Your pet can enjoy mashed potatoes as long as they don’t contain cheese, sour cream, onions, butter or gravy.
  • We also encourage pet owners to be mindful of the fat/seasoning content of the food they give their pets. Foods high in fats have been known to cause pancreatitis and other health concerns in pets.
  • The best thing for your pet is to provide them with a comfy, quiet space away from the holiday hustle and bustle and give them some pet-friendly thanksgiving treats to make the day special for them as well. Examples include:
    • Turkey-based canned dog/cat food
    • Turkey jerky treats
    • Plain pumpkin puree, but not pumpkin pie
    • Plain green beans, but not green bean casserole
    • Plain baked sweet potatoes, but not candied yams

Travel Safety

  • Before traveling, ensure that your pet is microchipped and wearing visible identification. Ensure all microchip information is up to date.
  • If you’re traveling by car, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need, like a well-ventilated crate, food, bowls, plenty of water, clean-up bags, and any required grooming supplies or medications.
    • Give your dog some good exercise before loading up for a long drive. This will help keep their stress down.
    • Bring your animal’s favorite toys to reduce stress.
    • If you’re using a crate, ensure that it is properly secured and won’t slide around. If you’re not planning to use a crate, make sure your pet is adequately secured in your vehicle.
    • Avoid feeding your pet while in a moving vehicle. Feed your pet a few hours before you plan to depart. Make sure to pack extra cleaning supplies just in case your pet experiences motion sickness.
    • Do not, under any circumstances, leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle! During the summer months, cars can heat up extremely quickly, putting your pet in danger of overheating.
  • If you’re planning to travel by plane, make sure to speak with the airline about their specific requirements.
    • Some airlines allow small animals on board the plane with you, but there are specific regulations concerning their crate or carrying bag. Keep in mind that the airline will likely charge extra for your pet to board the plane.
    • Larger animals will need to be checked and will travel in the cargo area of the plane. Again, be sure to review the airline’s pet policies for regulations regarding size and other requirements of your animal’s crate.
    • We recommend making a vet visit before any extended air travel. Keep in mind that travel to foreign countries or Hawaii with your pet will require extensive additional documentation regarding your pet’s health.
  • Make sure your hotel or accommodation is pet friendly. Many hotels will charge extra for pets, so prepare to pay pet fees.
  • Boarding facilities fill up quickly during popular travel times – especially summer time!
  • If your travel plans involve staying with friends or family who have animals of their own, do research on animal introductions to make sure it’s a smooth transition and positive experience for both your pet and theirs!

In Louisiana, our pets are a part of our culture as much as anything else. And for more than 130 years, the Louisiana SPCA has been an advocate for all our furry friends across the state. Follow our Lead and show the characters of Louisiana you care by supporting the Louisiana SPCA.

The Louisiana SPCA helped more than 3,000 animals find their forever home in 2020.

Did you know that we’re not affiliated with the ASPCA and rely on local donations?