The most wonderful time of the year comes with green boughs and sparkling lights—which are no good for a curious pet to chomp down on. Let’s talk pet-safe decorating tips!
Unfortunately, a lot of holiday home decor can be dangerous for your pets. From toppling decorations to toxic snacks, there are sneaky risks hiding in many seasonal decorations. Thankfully, pet safety doesn’t mean you have to quit holiday decorating cold turkey—all it means is that you have to be thoughtful and intentional about how you decorate.
The classic Christmas tree can actually be the most dangerous decoration of all! Pine needles can cause gastrointestinal distress when eaten, and needles from artificial trees can cause irritation and intestinal blockages. Even the water for your natural tree can be full of leached fertilizers, pesticides, and more from the tree, making it a toxic water bowl for thirsty pets. Put a tree collar around the base to block off the tree’s water and keep up with vacuuming up any shed needles to keep tummies happy.
An unsecured tree can topple if pets get a little too feisty. (We’re looking at all the ambitious climbing cats and dogs who don’t look where they’re going when they have the zoomies…) At best, a fallen tree is a mess—at worst, it can injure anyone in its path when it tumbles. Make sure to securely tether your tree to keep your pets and your ornaments safe.
If you’re somebody who really wants to go all out in your tree decoration with fewer limits, you can consider setting up a pet fence around the tree whenever you’re not there to supervise. That way your tree will look pristine when you’re all gathered around together, and you can sleep easy knowing that no snuffling noses will be poking around in there while you’re not watching.
Tree decorations pose another risk. Christmas lights have live electricity running through the wires (which sharp little teeth can easily chew through) and some bulbs can get very hot. Tinsel is fun to play with, but will require a vet visit to get it out of your pet’s tummy if they swallow any.
Fragile ornaments can create a minefield of glass shards if a wagging tail sends them tumbling to the floor. Metal hooks used to hang them are especially dangerous and can injure pets nosing around in the tree. (And who could blame your pets for being curious? Ornaments look like a ball to play with!)
Edible decorations are especially tempting! Candy canes and popcorn garlands hung on the tree are tasty food placed right at eye (and nose) level for hungry pets. (Don’t forget to keep an eye on all the festive foods you serve up at holiday parties too—what’s tasty to people is often harmful to pets.)
Keep any hazardous tree decorations above your pet’s height. Save the fragile glass ornaments with hooks for the top of the tree, and use all those popsicle stick ornaments from kindergarten art classes for the bottom!
Around the House
The biggest trick for pet-friendly decorating is simply to keep all those risky decorations out of your pet’s reach! Keep tinsel, garlands, and lights strung up where even the most ambitious climbers can’t reach them. (If you’re dealing with acrobats, hanging things in the center of the ceiling away from cabinets and shelves might just do the trick.) Don’t forget to pet-proof your outdoor Christmas decorations too for any pets who have off-leash time outside.
For any areas, you want to decorate where your pets can reach, make pet-safe decoration swaps. Deck the halls with colorful paper garlands and swap your poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe for a faux replacement. Your party guests probably won’t clock the difference and will still happily swap smooches under the plastic stuff.
Finally, one of the best pet safety tips we have is to make sure they have plenty of more exciting toys and games to attract their attention. Keep them busy with play, enrichment activities, and vet-approved treats, and they won’t even have time to mess with your decorations.
Here’s to a beautiful and pet-safe holiday, friends!