WHAT TO AVOID IN ORDER TO HAVE A PET-FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS TREE
The first decorative element covered in this guide to pet-friendly Christmas decorations is undoubtedly the showpiece of most homes decorated for the holidays. No surprise: it’s the Christmas tree. Christmas trees come in all sizes and styles, but when you have a dog or cat in the family, a medium-sized tree without a lot of decorations is best choice.
While stunning, tall Christmas trees can be dangerous for your pets. By tall, we mean a seven-footer or taller. To dogs and cats, this huge decoration may seem like a new toy or fun cat tree. And since it isn’t planted in the earth, the tree can fall over if your pet climbs it or bumps into it.
For example, some cats have a habit of climbing the Christmas tree. A cat who likes to climb can knock the tree over, damaging your decorations or, worse, injuring himself. Because tall trees are usually bulkier and heavier, they are more likely to cause real damage. Conversely, your pet may destroy a tiny Christmas tree (like a table-sized one) just by trying to play with its ornaments, so it’s a good idea to select a medium-size tree about 5 feet tall.
Like the tree itself, decorations come in an almost infinite number of sizes and styles. Your tree, however, must be decorated simply and safely, with your pet in mind. Here are some types of ornaments to avoid:
- Food (candy canes, chocolate, etc.)
- Objects that twinkle, flash, or shine too brightly (fiber-optic trees, Christmas lights, etc.)
- Small, hard decorations
- Ornaments that can break or cut (glass balls, etc.)
- Decorations that are harmful to pets (especially ICICLES, GARLANDS, and ARTIFICIAL SNOW)
Following the rules in this short list of ornament no–nos will keep your home safer for your dog or cat.
WHAT TO AVOID IN ORDER TO HAVE PET-FRIENDLY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
When selecting general holiday decorations for the home, be careful to make sure they are safe for your pets. Around the house, you’ll naturally want to avoid the same kinds of ornaments that you would avoid hanging on your Christmas tree, unless they can be placed high up, well out of your pets’ reach. Here are some additional Christmas decoration no–nos.
Despite the pleasant atmosphere and scent associated with candles, they should be avoided because of the fire risk. We might be tempted to think that candles can be used around pets with proper supervision. Lighted candles are still hazardous, especially in places your pets can reach and, even more so, if there are flammable decorations nearby. Remember: your pet has no idea of the risk candles pose, and they can be knocked over, accidentally or otherwise, in an instant!
HAZARDOUS PLANTS FOR PETS
Decorative plants are stunning to look at but many are poisonous to your pet. For example, here are the most popular decorative plants for the holidays:
- Holly berries: holly berries can cause digestive problems and diarrhea.
- Poinsettias: poinsettias can cause digestive upset and vomiting.
- Mistletoe: mistletoe can cause abnormal heart rate and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
It’s important to keep these decorative plants out of your pets’ reach. However, your pet may still grab a leaf or a berry that has fallen to the floor.
As you can imagine, Christmas lights pose a risk for electrocution. Your pet may see the cord as a chew toy, and that’s when electrocution can occur. Here are a few basic tips that might come in very handy in keeping that from happening!
First, never leave light strings lying about on the floor where your pet can easily get at them. Second, we also recommend that you simply unplug the lights when you leave the house, which cuts power to the light strings. A third helpful tip is to use power bars with automatic surge protection. Lastly, a tip about Christmas light bulbs rather than electricity itself: check your Christmas lights regularly to make sure that no bulbs have fallen or are loose. Make sure to pick up any bulb on the floor so your pet don’t hurt itself by playing with it or worse, by swallowing it.
AN EXTRA TIP ABOUT PRESENTS
Families love seeing all the presents under the tree, not to mention all the pretty wrapping paper. It’s a good idea, however, to hold off placing the gifts under the tree until you are there to keep an eye out: you wouldn’t want to run the risk of your dog or cat ruining the surprise by unwrapping them for you!