Pet Proof Your Home for the Holidays

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It’s that time of year again…the time to pull out your festive décor.

As you stack box after box in your living room, keep in mind that you are not the only excited member of the family. 

Your fur babies are excited…and curious. 

When decorating, it’s probably a good idea to keep your pets in another room and then introduce them to the new ‘look’ with an eye for what they find most interesting. 

This will let you know what decor may need moving.

You want to avoid making your favorite shiny, fragile ornament their favorite shiny, fragile ornament.

With that in mind, ‘pet-proofing’ your home will keep your pet safe and help avoid a vet trip during the holidays.

There are many things to consider. 

Avoid Harmful Decorations

  • Eating tinsel is one of the leading causes of holiday-related deaths for pets, especially cats
    • It’s shiny and string-like…basically, the best toy ever
    • Tinsel can wrap around vital organs
    • Unlike other décor, it’s not easy to notice when a strand of tinsel is missing
      • If you think your pet has enjoyed some silver or gold string, check to see if it’s wrapped around their tongue. If so, don’t pull it out; the other end of the tinsel may already be down too far. Call your vet and leave it to an expert to help you.

Holiday Plants to Avoid

  • Holly
  • Poinsettia
  • Pine needles (fake or real) – They may cause obstruction and punctures to the digestive system
  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Mistletoe – poisonous to both dogs and cats
  • Amaryllis

You can always substitute with artificial plants, red roses, or Christmas cacti – as artificial plants seem to be less appealing to most pets. 

Secure the Tree

  • Weight it down
  • Tie it to a post
  • Place a gate around it

Avoid Flammable Objects

  • Reconsider candles
  • Place them up high
  • Use battery-operated lighting sources
  • Only light them when you are in the room

Cords Can Be Tempting

  • Some fur babies love chewing on cords
  • Run cords alongside the ground where the floor meets the wall
  • Cover with plastic liners
  • Tape to the wall
  • Keep them up high
  • Opt for battery-operated decorations

Remove Edible Decorations such as popcorn strings and holly berries

Create a Safe Space

  • Gatherings can lead to extra stress on your pet, so give them a place they can relax
    • A bedroom
    • Their crate

Consider the Easily Available Food

There are probably extra holiday treats on the table and counters but keep in mind:

  • Alcohol is a no-no
  • No chocolate (especially dark) – those fancy boxes of holiday chocolates may become a problem
  • Foods with the fake sweetener xylitol (sugar substitute) are linked to liver failure in dogs
  • No raisins, grapes, ham and bacon, nuts, and turkey bones
  • No spices (such as nutmeg, garlic, onion, salt, and sugar)
  • Place overflowing candy dishes high up and away from pets
  • Your pets may be able to smell their wrapped treats underneath the tree – And eat them in one sitting
  • NO TURKEY BONES (break the wishbone outside and immediately discard in a secure location)


  • Hang fragile ornaments up high
  • Or place on shelves or mantles
  • Ingesting broken ornaments can lead to lacerations or intestinal blockages

Tree Water is Not Drinkable

  • Your pets may become sick from the sap in the water
  • Cover the dish with plastic or foil

Wrapping Supplies to Avoid (this is where the gate may come in handy)

  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • String
  • Tissue paper
  • Wrapping paper

In Case of Emergency

  • If your pet is showing signs of illness, including vomiting, loss of appetite, or excessive water intake, call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661)
  • Keep these numbers saved on your phone

Keep these tips in mind as you prepare your home for the holidays because the best gift you can give your pet is to keep them safe. 

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