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Blog category: Pets

Holiday Cheer without Fear: Pet-Friendly Decorating Tips

5 min read

The glow of twinkling lights, the freshly cut Christmas tree bedecked with ornaments and the delicious aromas of holiday treats wafting from the kitchen. Your home’s holiday transformation is met with little ones’ wondering eyes, thumping tails, and eager paws. Just as the parents of small children must child-proof their festivities, pet parents must do the same for their furry family members.

Holiday pet safety lets your whole family enjoy the season’s joys without an emergency vet visit. So, let’s see how to keep your pet safe for the holidays. We’ll explore cat-friendly Christmas decorations, how to puppy-proof the Christmas tree, and how to prevent electrifying dog-chewed Christmas lights.

Holiday Dangers for Pets

The first step of holiday pet safety is to consider your proposed decorations from your pet’s point of view. Holiday decorations appeal to and enchant our senses. The sparkling lights, the tinkling of bells, and the smell of the tree are just the beginning. These decorations also affect the sharper senses of the natural predators in our midst.

Cats long to scramble up the branches of the Christmas tree, while the hanging ornaments look like balls the dogs should bat about and chase. Shimmering tinsel is nearly irresistible for pouncing, tugging, and tangling. And the long, rubbery cords of Christmas lights make seemingly terrific chew toys. Many of our classic holiday traditions tempt our furry friends into danger.

A Christmas tree branch can break under a curious cat’s weight, or the entire tree may fall. And the water in the tree’s reservoir can be toxic, causing stomach upset if your pet drinks from it. Shiny glass balls can shatter, potentially injuring pets and people when they do. Tinsel gets swallowed, causing severe injury as it intertwines with the intestines.

Chewing on the light cords presents several potential hazards, including electrocution, burns, cut lips and tongue, choking, and more. Decorative plants like poinsettias and mistletoe are highly toxic to pets. But don’t despair! You don’t have to choose between festive décor and holiday pet safety. With planning, you can have both.

Pet-Proof and Safe Ornaments and Decorations

Now that we’ve identified several hazards among traditional holiday décor let’s consider some pet-safe alternatives that prove holiday pet safety can still be fun and festive.

Choose Pet-Safe Shatterproof Ornaments

You’ll never miss those fragile Christmas ball ornaments when you choose pet-safe shatterproof ornaments instead. These cat-friendly Christmas decorations have the same rich color and gorgeous luster as the old-fashioned balls you grew up with. But they’re made of durable plastic that makes them pet-safe, kid-proof, and much more long-lasting.

Skip the Tinsel

As lovely as well-hung tinsel is on the tree, it’s a significant health hazard for young children and small animals — and it’s a scourge on the environment. It’s time to pack in the tinsel for good. Festive tinsel alternatives include paper chains, popcorn and cranberry garlands, metal or acrylic icicle ornaments, and ribbon garlands. Each of these alternatives is an excellent choice for holiday pet safety.

Pet-Proof the Christmas Tree

Our pets can be as excited by the Christmas tree as we are, so it’s critical to make it pet-safe. A heavy, weighted stand is an excellent start on a puppy-proof Christmas tree. The added weight prevents the tree from being toppled by boundless energy or insistent climbers. You might also want to anchor the tree to the wall to prevent it from being knocked over. One way to keep the cat or dog from growing too interested in the tree is to spray it with a scent they dislike. A citrus scent works well to repel pets but not your guests! And, of course, decorate the tree with cat-friendly Christmas decorations. Don’t worry, shatterproof balls are great for dogs, too.

Eliminate Dog-Chewed Christmas Lights

The lights on the tree are lovely, but Christmas lights pose a significant hazard. Tuck the light cords deep in the tree branches where it’s harder for the dog to reach them. Consider adding lights only beyond the dog’s reach. Always (always) keep appropriate chew toys available and discourage any interest in chewing on the electrical cord. Finally, the citrus spray and a baby gate around the tree may be the best way to puppy-proof the Christmas tree until a young dog grows up.

Steering Clear of Hazardous Plants and Foods

Next up for holiday pet safety are the festive foods and plants so beloved for the season. These are just some of the items in your home that are toxic to cats and dogs. To enjoy a pet-safe holiday, ensure your furry friends cannot snack on the following toxic plants:

Holiday Plants Toxic to Pets

  • Poinsettia
  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Amaryllis
  • Paperwhites
  • Daffodils
  • Cyclamen
  • Azaleas
  • Christmas rose

Holiday Foods Toxic to Pets

  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Coconut
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Additional Safety Considerations

Some holiday pet safety tips overlap with general safety concerns. For instance, you should never leave a lit candle unattended, particularly with pets. The dancing, flickering flame may tempt unwary paws, risking a fire. For gift wrapping, take care to eliminate any potential choking hazards. Your vet wants you to avoid using any of the following:

  • Glitter or glitter-embellished paper
  • Ribbons
  • String
  • Yarn
  • Metal embellishments

Holidays and pets can mix safely and festively. But keeping the volume and excitement levels low is far more conducive to happy and relaxed pets. Consider designating a quiet room or space just for your pet. Stock it with food, water, a litter box, a favorite chew toy, and bedding. Ensure that when your pet retreats to this safe, calm space, they’re left undisturbed.

The love of our pets makes our lives richer and the holidays more joyful. Following our holiday pet safety tips will help you to ensure that every member of your family enjoys the festivities safely. Just as you ready your home for fall and winter to avoid potential problems, you can plan your holiday celebrations to keep them safe for all who participate.

Another step to secure the health and safety of your furry family members is to get them the proper pet insurance so you can respond to any need that arises.

Happy holidays!

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