Pet-Proofing Your Home for the Holidays

Written by Stephanie Konczarek

The holiday season is upon us and it’s the perfect time for pet parents to give some special thought to keeping our furry companions happy and safe from harmful items.

Nothing is cuter than having your pets pose in front of a decorated Christmas tree for those perfect Instagram pics. But sometimes cats and dogs are curious to see what is on the tree or under the tree. Holiday decorating can be dangerous to our pets with hazards such as broken ornaments, tinsel and electrical wires.

Don’t worry, you can still have a tree and all the trimmings, just take some precautions. Here is a list of items to keep away from your cats and dogs along with safer alternatives to ensure everyone has a happy and safe holiday season.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, how lovely AND TOXIC are your branches!

To keep curious pets safe from the Christmas tree you can set it up in a corner and always anchor it to a wall or the ceiling. This will keep it from tipping when a curious kitty tries to climb it to swat ornaments or when an energetic pup jumps and gives it a bump or two. Small bells can be attached to the lower branches as an alarm when pets start nosing around the tree. It gives you time to intervene and stop the action!

Raising the tree can also discourage your pet from getting too close to the decorations and lights. Small pet gates can also be decorated around the base of the tree to keep your pets from exploring. This is one way to stop your dog from drinking from the tree water. Some water can contain fertilizer or tree oils that can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria. Your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he decide to drink from it.

Many people are not aware that Christmas trees can be mildly toxic to pets. Pine and fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth and stomach when chewed and this can cause vomiting and excessive drooling.  Whether you choose a real or artificial tree, the branches are dangerous for both cats and dogs if chewed or eaten. It’s best to confine your pets to other areas of your home – away from the tree when you’re not there. Whether you decide on an artificial tree or a real tree, set it up for a couple of days to get your pets used to it and they may lose interest. This will make it less interesting for them when you start adding the decorations.

Be aware of electrical wires. If you have a dog who is a chewer or a cat who can get tangled in the wires, there is a risk of electrical shock. Secure cords leading to and from the tree, cover them with heavy duty plastic liners. Hide the cords and keep them off the floor and out of reach. If possible, use battery operated lights.


Here are some pet friendly suggestions for Christmas tree decorating:

● Shatterproof ornaments.
● Battery-operated lights.
● Natural fabric ribbon instead of tinsel.
● Natural pine cones.
● Instead of hooks to hang your ornaments, use twine or ribbon. It takes the same amount of effort and less harmful if swallowed.
● NO food, such as chocolate ornaments, popcorn and cranberry garlands.

Holiday Décor

When decorating your tree and home, keep in mind the size of your pet and activity level. Whether you have a kitten that can jump and scale a tree or a small dog breed that can get under tables and chairs or a large breed that can reach on top of tables and shelves, safety comes first.

Go Tinsel-less!

Avoid the possibility of having to rush your cat or dog to the emergency vet clinic and just say NO to tinsel. Kittens are drawn to the sparkly dancing lights of tinsel and a playful swat can lead to a nibble which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. Trim the tree with non-toxic options such as ribbon that comes in many different colors and natural fabrics.


There is nothing like the warm glow of candles and tea lights twinkling during the holiday season. But when pets are in the house this can be a big hazard to them from singed whiskers to burned paws and tails. You can get the same warm glow with battery operated candles. There have been great strides made with the realistic designs and variety of textures, colors and price points with battery operated candles.

Deck the halls …what plants to avoid to keep your pet’s safe

Holiday plants add festive cheer to your home but pets and some plants do not mix.

The 5 Most Dangerous Holiday Plants for Pets

● Poinsettias
● Holly
● Mistletoe
● Pine
● Amaryllis

Here are some safe alternatives to use in a pet-friendly home:

● Use Red Roses instead of Poinsettias.
● Use Autumn Olive (also known as Silver Berry) instead of Holly.
● Use Christmas Cactus instead of Mistletoe
● Use White Orchids instead of Lilies
● Use Achira instead of Amaryllis

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