Seasonal dangers for dogs

As the seasons change, your dog is exposed to exciting new sights, sounds, smells, and adventures! However, it's important to be aware that each season brings different challenges and risks for your dog. By understanding the seasonal risks and how to deal with them, you can make sure your dog stays safe and happy throughout the year.

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Seasonal risks to your dog at home

Occasions like Easter and Christmas are special times of the year, with lots of decorations, visitors, and yummy food! Unfortunately, all these celebrations can come with risks to your dog, so we've compiled the following list of things to be mindful of so you can celebrate safely.

Seasonal foods that are toxic to your dog

Your dog may be tempted by exciting and new food. Keep these foods out of your dog's reach, as even small amounts can adversely affect dogs. If your dog consumes any toxic food, contact your vet immediately for guidance.

  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. If your dog eats chocolate, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, increased heart rate, tremors, and in severe cases, seizures or even death.
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in a wide variety of foods, particularly those marketed as low fat or low sugar. Ingestion of Xylitol can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar levels, leading to weakness, seizures, and potential liver damage.
  • Raisins: Christmas cake, mince pies, pudding, and hot cross buns may contain raisins that are very toxic to your dog. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and decreased urine production, which can lead to kidney failure.
  • Onions and garlic: Onions and garlic, in all forms (raw, cooked, and powdered) can damage your dog's red blood cells, leading to anaemia. Symptoms include weakness, pale gums, and increased heart rate.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol should never be given to dogs, as it can cause disorientation, vomiting, urination problems, coma and occasionally death. Make sure that drinks are kept out of reach and aren’t left unattended around your dog.
  • Table scraps: Rich, fatty, and seasoned foods can cause digestive upset or even pancreatitis in dogs; make sure your dog isn't fed scraps by visitors and that plates and food aren't left in reach of your dog. 

Seasonal decorations and presents

Brightly coloured decorations and presents are an exciting part of seasonal festivities, and your dog will likely be curious about the new additions to your home. Keep them out of your dog’s reach and always closely supervise your dog around decorations and gifts. 

  • Tinsel, baubles, and ornaments: Fragile ornaments are prone to breaking if your dog plays with them, leading to cuts or ingested shards if they bite them. Tinsel can also cause blockages in your dog’s digestive tract, or cause choking, if chewed and swallowed.
  • Presents and gift wrapping: Ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, and brightly coloured toys can be enticing for your dog, but all pose choking hazards and can cause blockages in the digestive tract if swallowed.
  • Poisonous plants: Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are all toxic if ingested. Seasonal bouquets should also be checked as they might contain berries or lilies which are poisonous to dogs.
  • Candles: Lit candles can cause burns, or even start a fire, if knocked over by a curious pet, so keep them well out of reach of your dog. 

Learn more about common household poisons

Festivals, parties and seasonal events

While festivals and social events are great fun, they can be overwhelming for your dog. If you notice your dog appears stressed or anxious, it's a good idea to take them away from the event immediately. A tucked tail, lip-licking, barking, whining, excessive panting, and pinned-back ears can all be signs of anxiety.

If you have a guide dog, it's essential to remember that not everyone at a party or event might know how to interact with a working dog. If your guide dog seems distracted, move to a quiet area, and help your dog to refocus calmly.

Fireworks and loud noises

Fireworks during New Year's Eve and Bonfire night, and noises such as loud music during celebrations, can cause anxiety or fear in dogs, so providing a quiet and safe space for your four-legged friend is vital. If your dog seems particularly bothered by fireworks, or other loud noises, speak to your vet about the problem, they may be able to make suggestions or provide medication if needed.


Parties and gatherings mean an influx of new visitors. Some dogs may find this stressful, so ensure they have a quiet place to retreat if needed. In particular, Halloween, where visitors are often wearing costumes, can be confusing and stressful for dogs.

Holidays away from home

Whenever you travel on holidays with your dog, take all their essential equipment to keep them safe, comfy and happy. This includes leads, beds, any regular medication or supplements, food, and water bowls, and of course, their favourite toys! Your dog will feel more relaxed if they have familiar things while away from home.

On longer journeys, include regular breaks where your dog can stretch their legs safely and enjoy a drink of fresh water.

Before you set off on holiday, it's also a good idea to check the location of your nearest vet and 24-hour veterinary clinic while you’re away in case of any issues or emergencies.

Seasonal outdoor dangers for your dog

Spending time outside is important for your dog's health. It’s important to be aware of seasonal risks outdoors and where you might find them, as well as the steps to take if your dog consumes something poisonous and the key symptoms to watch out for. 

Read about dangers to your dog in your garden and outdoors

Seasonal diseases

Certain dog diseases are more common at particular times of the year, so knowing what to be aware of, and when, is important.

What to do if you need advice or help

By understanding seasonal dangers and taking proactive measures, you can create a safe environment for your dog. If you suspect your dog or guide dog is unwell, always contact your vet for advice.

For guide dog owners with general, non-urgent questions, contact Guide Line. We’re here to help you with any queries or concerns.