Colbie Caillat Teams Up with The Humane Society of the United States to Make Holidays Safe and Happy for Pets

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The holidays can bring hazards for pets. But with a little preparation and caution, pets and people alike can enjoy the festivities

Colbie Caillat with Plum and Mate.

Colbie Caillat with Plum and Mate. Photo by Robin Layton, from “A Letter to My Dog: Notes to Our Best Friends” published by Chronicle Books.

For singer/songwriter Colbie Caillat, celebrating the holidays means being surrounded by loved ones—including pets. As a spokesperson for The Humane Society of the United States, Caillat shares some simple tips for keeping pets safe from holiday hazards, and for bringing a new pet into a household during this busy season.

Adopt your next pet: Caillat encourages people thinking about adding a pet to the family, now or any time of the year, to choose adoption from a local animal shelter or rescue group. “There are so many great dogs, cats and other pets just waiting in shelters for a second chance and you can save a life,” Caillat says. Her own two dogs, a golden retriever named Plum and a mixed breed named Mate, are adopted.

Caillat, who has been a spokesperson for The HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills campaign, adds that people should not yield to impulse purchases during the holidays and under no circumstances should they buy pets from pet stores or online animal dealers. Most of their dogs come from puppy mills, where animals are generally kept in poor conditions.

Think twice before giving an animal as a gift: Because the recipient may not be ready for the commitment involved with the lifetime care of a pet, Caillat and The HSUS recommend people to instead give the gift of adoption. Many shelters offer adoption gift certificates, and this lets the adopter choose the perfect lifetime companion for them, when they have time to bond. If gift certificates aren’t available, consider buying the person a gift membership to their local shelter and/or The HSUS or making a donation in their name.

Make the holidays safe for your pets: As much joy as pets bring to the holidays, The HSUS and Caillat warn that the holidays can bring hazards for pets. But with a little preparation and caution, pets and people alike can enjoy the festivities.

  •     A number of seasonal plants are poisonous to pets if nibbled or eaten, including ivy, holly, mistletoe and others. For more information, click here.
  •     Keep holiday decorations away from pets. Tinsel, bows, ribbons and wrapping paper can be tempting chew toys for pets, but can damage their digestive systems. Remember to keep tree ornaments high enough that they’re out of your pet’s reach.
  •     Don’t leave candles unattended. Pets may accidentally knock them over and spill wax or start a fire.
  •     Keep a close eye on your pet, especially if he is dressed in a festive collar or outfit for the holiday. Ensure there are no chewable parts or pieces that could break off and choke your pet. Do not leave them unattended in costume.
  •     Provide your pet with a quiet, out-of-the-way room during holiday parties. Though some pets may enjoy socializing opportunities, others will be overwhelmed by the excitement of a party.
  •     As you enjoy candy and other treats during the holidays, please don’t share with your pets. Chocolate can be hazardous, but also watch out for xylitol, a common sweetener. And individually-wrapped candies are double trouble as some pets might eat both the candy and the wrapper.
  •     Avoid the urge to give your pets table scraps, especially bones. Bones easily splinter and can cause serious health problems, even death.
  •     If you are planning to take your pet with you when visiting friends and relatives during the holidays, be sure to contact them in advance to find out if your pet is welcome. Because of the excitement during the holidays, it might be best to board your pet or hire a reputable pet sitter instead.
  •     Both guests and hosts enjoy a well-behaved pet. Practice good behaviors with your pet, like sit and stay, in advance of the holidays so they can be part of the fun with you.
  •     Remember that pet birds are especially sensitive to airborne particles and shouldn’t be near burning candles, potpourri, or any cookware with a non-stick surface.

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without gifts, of course. The HSUS' online store Humane Domain carries a wide array of pet products and toys, as well as gifts for animal lovers, including apparel, jewelry, sleepwear, decorative accessories, and holiday cards and decorations. Ten to 20 percent of every purchase made at Humane Domain benefits HSUS programs and campaigns. Check out other great gift ideas for adults, children, pets and the avid reader by visiting

And for people looking for a soundtrack for the season, check out Colbie Caillat’s first holiday album, “Christmas in the Sand,” with original and classic holiday songs and guest appearances from Brad Paisley, Gavin DeGraw and more. Caillat and her two rescued dogs are also featured in a new book, “A Letter to My Dog: Notes to Our Best Friends” published by Chronicle Books and available wherever books are sold.

For more information about pet adoption, finding a responsible breeder, and how to avoid buying from a puppy mill, visit Find out more about Colbie Caillat and her holiday album at

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Raul Arce-Contreras
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