Tips for pet-proofing your home for the holidays

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Ornaments and holiday decor might cause problems for your pet

Most pet owners have likely experienced some sort of clash between their furry family member and holiday decor, but some decorations deserve extra care for the safety of your pet(s).

Your Christmas tree, winter holiday plants, and festive decor can all pose potential health hazards to curious pets, so it’s imperative to know where seasonal household dangers may be found. 

With this information, you can take steps to keep your pet from getting sick or injured. 

Pet-proof your tree 

Your Christmas tree and the fragile ornaments that adorn it can be tempting to pets–especially those with a penchant for chewing dangling objects. 

Here are a few ways to keep pets safe around Christmas trees: 

  • Secure your tree properly. To keep your tree from toppling over and injuring your cat or dog, secure it with additional hardware or put up a gate. 
  • Hang fragile ornaments up high. Use fragile ornaments on shelves or mantles, or hang them near the top of the tree. Ingesting broken ornaments can lead to lacerations or intestinal blockages in pets.
  • Avoid edible ornaments. Strings of popcorn, holly berries, and other edible ornaments can look like enticing treats to pets, but eating edible decor could cause your pet to choke or become ill. 
  • Keep pets out of tree water. If you have a real tree, keep in mind that Christmas tree water can harbor tree sap (as well as bacteria and fertilizers) that can cause a pet who drinks it to become sick. To keep pets out of tree water, try covering the dish with plastic or foil.
  • Skip the tinsel. Sparkly tinsel can look irresistible to playful kitties, but can be harmful if ingested. Cats who accidentally swallow tinsel can suffer from an obstructed digestive tract, dehydration, or severe vomiting, according to the ASPCA.

Avoid dangerous decor

While the soft glow of candles may help keep holiday spirits bright, they can cause burns to pets or start a fire. Remember to keep candles high up on a shelf or only light them while you are in the room.  

Pet owners should also be sure to watch pets around certain winter holiday plants. Poinsettia, holly berries, pine tree needles, and lilies can be toxic to pets if ingested and should be displayed in a spot that’s inaccessible to pets.  

Communicate with your holiday visitors to ensure they don’t sneak your pet any alcohol or snacks that could cause them distress. Be sure overnight guests lock up medications and personal products. 

To keep mischievous pets from getting into decor or presents while you are out of the house, consider using a crate or restricting their roaming space. 

“Giving your animal a space to themselves away from the unfamiliar can provide them with a sense of safety,” Rob Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Healthy Paws pet insurance, told ConsumerAffairs. 

“If possible, choose a room your pet spends time in already, such as a bedroom where they sleep. Check in on your animal every hour or so, giving them a treat or affection. Make sure to let your dog out per your usual schedule."

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