Deck the Halls with Safety: Pet-Proofing Tips

Dog and cat lies near the Christmas tree

Thanksgiving is over, and the hustle and bustle of Christmas is full-on. During this season of holiday festivities, any experienced pet owner can appreciate how important it is to pet-proof your Christmas tree and other indoor and outdoor decorations. December brings cooler temperatures and beautifully decorated homes—and dangers for Fido!

One of the first signs that Christmas is coming is the tradition of decking the halls with boughs of holly and such. It is important to remember that some of the trappings of Christmas can cause your pet harm, so it’s up to you to take adequate pet-proofing precautions.

Pets instinctively want to explore and taste all these new bobbles and bits of trimmings that seem to have invaded their home.

And perspective changes everything, so physically get down to your pet’s view level and look around—see things from your pet’s perspective. You will get a better idea of how your pet views all these new items and the upcoming exploration-of-every-single-item-waiting-to-get-pet-approved.

Pet-Proofing Christmas Plants

Whether your Christmas plants are placed indoors or outdoors, some plants require precautions be taken so that pets are not harmed.

For cats, most types of lilies are quite deadly. In certain lilies’ species, for example, a single leaf or a trace of pollen can result in sudden kidney failure.

The popular Christmas cactus, which blooms in December, and festive holly (English) are known for causing significant damage to the intestinal tract and the stomachs of both cats and dogs. While not fatal to Fido, these plants should be placed out of reach of your pet. Should your pet consume even small amounts of either plant, call a veterinarian immediately.

An urban legend is that both mistletoe and poinsettias are highly toxic to pets. Not true. They will, however, cause minor discomfort. The tiny crystals on poinsettias can cause irritation to pets’ mouths or skin, but fatal poisoning is extremely rare. And while European mistletoe is highly toxic, American mistletoe is likely only to cause minor stomach upset.

Pet-Proofing the Christmas Tree

Christmas tree ornaments and decorations provide irresistible temptations to your pets. The blinking lights, shiny tinsel, and dangling ornaments bring out the curiosity in all pets.

Any cherished or heirloom ornaments should always be placed in the top half of the tree where they will be safe from Fido’s wagging tail and Fifi’s batting paws.

You may want to re-think the shiny tinsel and skip it altogether. Dogs and cats both love to eat it! While not poisonous, they can get tied up in your pet’s stomach and cause serious problems. Do not attempt to pull out tinsel or ribbon from either end of your pet as serious cuts can occur. Contact your veterinarian, as the only treatment is surgery.

If you have a live Christmas tree, be sure your pets don’t drink the water especially if you have used additives to keep the tree alive longer.

And don’t forget about those beautifully wrapped presents. As curious animals, both dogs and cats can wreak havoc on them overnight, leaving everything wet with slobber.

We all know how great a dog’s sense of smell is. Know that your dog can smell food and candy through wrapping paper, so never tempt your dog by placing these within reach of Fido.  Most types of Christmas foods are dangerous to your pet.

From the raisins and currants to the alcohol soaking, fruitcakes and other traditional holiday cakes, cookies and breads are highly problematic to pets. Pets absorb alcohol into the bloodstream rapidly, which can cause drops in blood pressure, blood sugar and body temperature.

Ideal Pet-Proofing Tool

You can always play it safe by screening off decorated areas or Christmas trees with a pet gate. There are many types that will protect your tree while also looking stylish and decorative. As an added bonus, a good pet gate also keeps toddlers a safe distance away from these same dangers.

For more information on how a pet gate works, please visit our Learning Center.

It only takes a short time to walk through your home and yard and pet-proof your pets’ Christmas.

Let us know if you have a pet-proofing tip to share. Pet Super Store wants to hear about your pet-proofing ideas!

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