Holiday Decorating: Making Safety a Priority for your Dog or Cat

One of the many joys of the holidays is to beautify our homes with the decorations of the season. However, with all the celebrating going on, it’s easy to miss the potential dangers of twinkling lights and pretty ornaments to your pets. If you plan carefully, you can protect your pets this holiday season and avoid a possible emergency visit to the veterinarian.

Monitor Your Festive Plants.

Holiday plants, such as festive holly, mistletoe and a number of other plants and flowers can be extremely toxic if ingested. Poinsettia leaves, too, can lead to severe stomach upset in pets if they are allowed to chew them. If you plan on decorating with these types of festive plants in or around the house, be sure to keep them all well out-of-reach of any inquisitive dogs and cats.

Watch the Lights.

Cords connected to lights are a tempting, but very dangerous, potential chew-toy for kittens and puppies. We recommend covering and securing exposed wires and making them inaccessible to your curious pets, to prevent shocks and burns.

Protect Your Pets from Open Flames.

Much like the lights in a tree, the flickering flame of a candle can be a similarly tempting toy for your pets, especially kittens. Both the candle’s flame and its hot wax can cause severe burns to cats and dogs, not to mention the risk of fire that candles can cause. If a candle must be part of your holiday repertoire, be sure to secure its base to avoid an unfortunate tipping over. Also, never leave an open flame unattended.

Tree Safety for Dogs and Cats.

Holiday trees can tip and fall over, injuring pets and people, so be sure that your tree is secured in a solid stand, perhaps even secured to the ceiling or a wall. If you have a natural tree, your dog or cat might perceive this to be another drinking dish, so be sure to use fresh, clean water with no preservatives or chemical additives—and change it daily. Also, avoid putting gifts under the tree that contain food. Dogs and cats have a keen senses of smell and will be able to hunt out food not meant for them, even through the decorative wrapping and packaging.

Decorate with Care.

Puppies and kittens are especially curious about new things in their environment, making your holiday decorations prime candidates for swatting, chewing and general mishaps. Keep an eye out for glass ornaments and ornament hooks, both of which can cause puncture wounds and serious injury to probing pets. Tinsel must be placed well out of the reach of your pets, especially cats and kittens, as it can cause major issues if ingested, such as becoming wrapped around the base of the tongue or cutting through the intestines—both potentially life-threatening emergencies.

Keeping these tips in mind, you and your pets can enjoy a happy and safe holiday season together.

Related Resources

Get more holiday-related tips for dogs and cats in the articles below.