Holiday Pets: The Ultimate Guide to Celebrating with Furry Family Members

Planning to ring in the season with your furry friend? Here are some great ideas for (safely) celebrating the holidays with your pet.

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Do you start holiday shopping for matching dog and owner pajamas before it’s even Halloween? Do you write a letter to Santa on behalf of your cat? Then this guide is for you!

For so many pet owners, beloved cats and dogs are just as much a part of the family as anyone else. And we’ve come up with some fun ways to include them in your holiday celebrations—while keeping them safe at the same time. Plus, we’ve got the inside scoop on the best gifts for pet lovers—including where to find those matching Christmas pajamas with dogs!

Here’s our ultimate guide to celebrating the holidays with your fluffy family members—it’s sure to fill them with the holiday spirit.

Holiday activities with your pet

orange cat sitting on unrolled wrapping paper with christmas gifts in the backgroundhelenaak/Getty Images

Can you include your pet in your Christmas traditions and holiday activities? Why not? There are so many fun ways to get them involved.

  • For dogs, one great idea is to take them to outdoor light displays. Well-behaved dogs are usually welcomed if they’re on leash. Or for rambunctious pups, enjoy the lights from the comfort of your car.
  • Cats are curious creatures and do well to “help” with wrapping (or maybe unwrapping?) presents—it’s sure to lead to some cute animal photos too, so start a new tradition by including your cat in the boxing and unboxing fun.
  • Depending on the breed, your dog might love to play in the snow. Try to find a place where they can safely romp off-leash, and keep them cozy with one of these dog coats for winter.

Pet-friendly holiday decor

Two dogs looking up towards christmas stockings with dog faces on themCapuski/Getty Images

Decorating your home for the fall and winter holidays is a sure way to impart a warm and festive air. And luckily, there’s plenty of pet-friendly holiday decor.

Holiday outfits for pets

cat on a couch in a santa costume for chirstmasNuclear_lily/Getty Images

One of the best ways to include your pet in the holiday celebrations is with a holiday outfit. Every pet looks adorable in a little Santa costume or winter booties (or other winter gear for that matter), so they’re a must for any Christmas photo.

  • Unwrap presents under the tree in your matching dog and owner pajamas. Seriously, nothing would be cuter! If you’re matching Christmas pajamas with dogs, look for something comfortable that you can both relax in all morning.
  • Cats have plenty of options for fun holiday outfits too. We can’t get over how sweet this cat Christmas costume is—though we do suspect the cat is not amused!
  • If you celebrate Hanukkah, take heart! You can get a full rabbi costume for your pup. Add it to your list of best Hanukkah gifts for eight great nights.

Gifts for you and your furry friend

pet bunny sitting with christmas gifts under the chirstmas treeKsenia Raykova/Getty Images

Whether you’re shopping for yourself, for a stocking stuffer for your pet, or for your fellow dog and cat parents, here are some of the best gifts for pet lovers—and their pets!

Keeping pets safe during the holidays

calico cat standing outside an open red front door in winter with some snow on the groundkrblokhin/Getty Images

Although pets can have plenty of fun during the holidays, pet owners also need to consider their safety. While the holidays for us often mean large gatherings and lots of commotion, what’s fun for us can sometimes be distressing to pets. John Otero of PuroClean, specialists in property damage repair and home safety, shares these tips on how pet owners can keep their furry pals safe during the holidays.

If you’re hosting a party: “If your pet is timid or gets stressed in crowds, you might want to move your pet into a locked room or into their crate before guests arrive,” says Otero. “They’ll feel more comfortable and won’t be frightened by loud noises. Be sure to add a favorite toy or treat for a bit of comfort.”

Be careful around doors: Even if your pets are comfortable around visitors, it’s still important to keep a close eye on them, says Otero, especially at entrances. “Your pet may still get scared, and once an exit door is opened, he or she may break out and get lost.” Try practicing “doorbell etiquette” with your pets before the holiday crowds arrive, and give them toys or treats to reward good behavior.

Keep pets safe from decorations: “Sparkling decorations and candles are likely to draw your pet’s attention—especially cats,” says Otero. “Always keep Christmas decorations like pine cones, ornaments, and fake snow away from your pet’s reach, as it can make them sick if accidentally ingested.” Also, remember that cats (and some dogs) like to chew on electrical cords. You can eliminate this temptation and reduce the risk of shock or fire by unplugging your tree lights, decorations, and candle lights before leaving the house, says Otero. Here are some expert tips on how to keep cats away from the Christmas tree.

Go easy on the people food! We know, we know. It’s hard to resist puppy dogs staring up at you from under the table. But oily, fatty holiday foods can make your pet seriously sick, reminds Otero. Some Christmas foods that are toxic to pets include walnuts, cooked bones, chocolates, raisins, yeast dough, and fruit pits. (Psst, these are the regular foods that are toxic to dogs and cats.) Remember to dispose of all your leftovers in a closed container, so that pets don’t get curious and decide to help themselves. You don’t have to deny your pets every holiday treat, however. Here’s a list of Thanksgiving foods that pets can actually eat—in moderation of course.

Next, check out these Christmas eve traditions for the whole family.

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  • John Otero, regional director of PuroClean home safety and repair.

Elizabeth Heath
Elizabeth Heath is a travel and lifestyle writer based in Italy. Her writing on travel and sustainability appears in national and international publications, and she is the author of several guidebooks. For and sister publication, she writes about pets (especially dogs!), books, seasonal gift guides, home improvement and outdoor living.