Based on an article that first appeared at

Hanukkah, or The Festival of Lights, is a time for reflection and family. It’s also a time for foods, gifts, and traditional decorations, some of which can be harmful to your pets.

Take the traditional menorah, for example. Wagging tails near lit candles are not a good mix, so make sure it and other candles are safely out of reach.

6 Important Hanukkah Pet Safety Tips

In addition to keeping a safe distance between lit candles and your pets, consider also the foods, gifts, and other items that traditionally accompany the holiday. Are your dogs and cats seasoned veterans of holiday gatherings trusted to maintain their decorum, or are they spunky puppies and kittens best kept away from the festivities for safety reasons?

Also consider your guests: who is likely to slip Fido or Fluffy a “snack?” Rich holiday foods or candy can cause upset tummies and even worse.

Celebrate safely with these seasonal tips:

  1. Latkes and Sufganiyot (doughnuts) – These traditional Hanukkah foods may be tasty treats for humans, but don’t share them with your dogs and cats. Not only are they fried in oil, which can be problematic for your pets, but they also have onions or sugar which can poison your best friend.
    A plate of latkes
  2. Dreidel – Spinning the dreidel can be fun, but it’s not fun pulling it out of your dog’s mouth. The dreidel is the perfect size for a choking hazard, so keep it out of reach if your dog or cat is likely to chew on it.
  3. Gelt – These gold-covered chocolate “coins” are fun to sprinkle around the table and share with humans but not so fun if your dog or cat gets their paws on them. As you may have heard, chocolate can be toxic to pets. It has an ingredient in it – theobromine -- that pets can’t digest, and even the smallest sliver of chocolate can cause diarrhea. Plus, the wrapping can’t be digested and can cause a dangerous blockage in the GI tract.
    It’s best to keep these out of reach of both pets and unsupervised small children – in case, the latter share with the four-legged ones.
  4. Gift Wrapping – Ribbons are cute draped over your pets. This can set the scene for great photo opportunities, but don’t leave them unattended with ribbons and wrapping paper as this presents another choking hazard.
  5. Other Decorations – Strings of lights, banners, wreaths, or whatever you may decorate with could prove interesting to your pets. If you have curious dogs and cats who might wrap themselves in light strands or chew on dangling wires or fabric, then keep them away from your decorations.
    A dog amid holiday lights and decorations
  6. Hanukkah Costumes – From menorah hats to dreidels, pet stores are filled with dog and cat Hanukkah costumes. Whether or not you go in for them is up to you, but it’s a good idea to keep your costumed pet under supervision.

As you can see, Hanukkah pet safety can require a few precautions. While you know your pets best, it’s still a good idea to have a plan in case they prove nervous or you find that a friend or relative has slipped Max “a little something” from the table scraps. A quiet space away from the festivities may be a good option for your pets, and make sure you have emergency veterinary facility information on hand (though we hope you never need it!).

Will you host a Hanukkah gathering this year? If you have any questions about keeping your pets happy and healthy during the celebrations, please feel free to contact us!