Keeping Pets Safe Around Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations are always an important part of the festivities this time of year. And with more limited options for traditional celebrations around town this year, decorations at home will likely take on a bigger role than ever. Some decorations pose a risk for our pets, but with some planning and know-how you can put together a dazzling display free from hazards yet full of cheer!

Tinsel is a popular holiday decoration, but it can be dangerous to pets, especially inquisitive cats. Often used on Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths, metallic tinsel is thin and sharp and can easily wrap itself around the intestines or ball up in the stomach once ingested. Diagnosis usually involves some expensive testing and treatment often requires surgery for the “foreign body” to be removed. To avoid the danger, it’s best to not use tinsel in your household or anywhere your pet could get access to.

Live plants are popular too, but it’s a good idea to know which ones are safe and which ones are dangerous for your pets. Poinsettias have a reputation for being deadly for pets and children, but such an occurrence is unlikely. That’s because the bright red leaves contain a sap that is irritating and will cause nausea and vomiting if ingested. It would take a large amount to cause poisoning, and most animals and children won’t eat a large amount because of the irritation. Still, it’s best to keep poinsettias out of reach. Holly and mistletoe, along with their berries, are actually more toxic. Ingestion can cause severe gastrointestinal disorders, breathing difficulty, and even heart failure. Be sure to keep these plants out of reach or use artificial versions in your holiday decorating.

For Christmas trees, be careful how and where you set it up, especially if your cat likes to climb. It might be a good idea to invest in a heavy base for your tree that will prevent it from falling over. You can also tether your tree to the wall or ceiling to keep it standing no matter how curious and playful your cat may be! And if you’re opting for a real tree this year, consider purchasing a non-drop variety to keep your cat away from potentially dangerous needles. Though unlikely, there is a chance that swallowed needles could cause internal damage. Ornaments that are within reach of cats and dogs can also pose a problem. Protect pets by placing tempting ornaments out of their reach – which will also safeguard any heirlooms or keepsakes that you want to treasure for years to come.

Lights are typically one of the biggest components to holiday decorations. And while we might love looking at them, pets often love chewing on them! If your pet decides to chew on any electrical wiring, it could result in a trip to the vet. If you plan to decorate with lights this year, be sure to take proper precautions to keep your pets safe. It’s always a good idea to cover any exposed wires with either cardboard or plastic tubes. Avoid using candles that can be knocked over and if your pet will be home alone, always make sure to unplug any lights that may be within their reach. Battery powered LED lights are also a good option if you want to avoid wires and flames altogether!

However you decide to decorate your home, we hope it brings your people and pet family lots of joy!