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  • Erin Schwartzkopf

Have a Merry Safe Christmas


The holidays can be wonderful, but they can also have some hidden dangers and stressors for our favorite canine and equine friends. Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your besties safe through the season.


  1. There are some beautiful, natural decorations that are also poisonous, so be sure to keep them out of reach. For horses, holly, mistletoe, and yew are all poisonous and may not take very much to cause real health problems for a horse. Make sure any of these wreaths, garland, or swags are hung far out of reach of stretching necks and lips! For dogs, mistletoe and holly are also poisonous, but there are a few more common seasonal plants that can be bad news for them. Poinsettias, evergreens, ivy, juniper, lilies, amaryllis, azaleas, and chrysanthemums are some others you will want to make sure are kept well out of reach of not only your pupper, but also any that may be at your house this season.

  2. Wiring on all lights and decorations needs to be inspected well to prevent barn and house fires, but also can be too much to resist for that horse that likes to mouth things or that chewing puppy. If decorating your barn, keep those wires safely away from any place your horse might stretch to reach them. If you have a chewer for a dog, keep all of the wires elevated that you are able to. Restrict access to rooms with wires that you are not able to put out of reach.

  3. Horses and dogs both can be overwhelmed by an influx of people and may not do well with small children running up to them. Children that are old enough should be taught how to interact with your animals and be supervised. If that is not possible, the best and safest option may be to secure your horse in their stall and your dog in another room or a crate. Not all animals do well with children even if the kids are well behaved and a stressed or frightened animal can be unpredictable.

  4. Some neighbors may set off fireworks on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as well as New Year's Eve. If your horse or dog is frightened by them, keeping them confined will help keep them safe. For dogs, you may find a Thundershirt works well. I have found the trick to them is getting them on early enough as well as snug enough. For extreme cases, visit with your vet ahead of time if they recommend a medication to keep them calm. You will want to have it ready to go when needed since your vet is likely not open on the holiday.

  5. LED lights run cooler than other lights and are something you definitely want to consider if you plan to light up your barn. They are also a good idea for your home for the same reason.

  6. Candles can easily be knocked over by pets, especially in the chaos of a gathering of friends and family. Open flames are always a no-no in a barn, but you might want to consider extending that rule to your home as well...at least for the gatherings.

  7. It may be tempting to hang a stocking full of carrots on your horse's stall door, but that can very quickly be pulled into the stall and chewed up and cause blockage. Likewise, tinsel and ornaments can look like toys or treats and cause serious internal blockages or damage for dogs and horses.

This is certainly not a comprehensive list of potential dangers or ways to keep your dog or horse safe this season, but hopefully it gives you some things to think about. What other measures to you take to make sure your holiday season is a safe and happy one for your pooch or poneh?


Did you find this post helpful? Would you like to see more like it?


If you answered "Yes", I have good news for you! I am part of a blog circle comprised of pet photographers from all over the world. Head to the next post on this topic as, BARKography by Kim Hollis shares photos of dogs wearing Christmas hats. Follow the links at the bottom of her blog and continue around the circle. When you find yourself back here, you know you made it all the way around! Happy reading!

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