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Holiday Decorating Tips For Pet Owners

December 15 2023

Happy Holidays! Do you go all-out when it comes to decorating? Or do you just put up a few things and call it good? Whether setting up TikTok-worthy light shows that people come from miles away to see, or just sticking a few candles in the window, it’s important to keep your furry best friend in mind when decorating. Fido and Fluffy have a knack for mischief, and that is never more apparent—or more dangerous—than it is at this time of year. A local Montgomery, AL  vet lists some things to keep in mind when putting up your seasonal décor in this article.

The Tree

That beautiful tree can pose a serious hazard.  For one thing, many of the decorations are unsafe. Anything small or sharp is in general a risk to playful pets. That includes many ornaments, as well as ornament hooks.

If you have a real tree, the water could contain traces of things like pesticides, herbicides, or fire retardants, which are not safe for Fido and Fluffy to drink. The tree store may have given you a packet of ‘food’ for it, but that may contain chemicals that are not safe for your pet. Keep plain water in the bowl.  In fact, you may even want to cover it. (Don’t skip watering the tree, though: dry trees present serious fire risks.)

It’s also important to pick up fallen needles and tinsel, as these are also choking hazards for both kids and pets, and can also cause serious internal injuries if swallowed. 

For the most part, Fido is probably going to be more interested in chewing on and investigating things that are within easy reach. However, some pups will go for ornaments. Of course, anything that falls to the floor is also fair game. 

How Do I Catproof My Tree?

There’s no completely foolproof way to keep Fluffy out of your tree. However, there are a few things that can make it less appealing for her.

When decorating the tree, put only a few dull, unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches. Put most of the ornaments, including anything small, sharp, fragile, or stringy, on the upper part of the tree. (Hanging glittery ornaments within easy reach of Fluffy’s murder mittens is basically asking for it.) You can also try blocking your feline pal’s access to the tree. One option is to block it off. You can use a puppy gate (which you can also decorate) or arrange presents so they block Fluffy’s path of destruction. Taste deterrents may also help.

You may want to consider going with an artificial tree. This will be harder for your cat to climb. Plus, it will save both money and resources in the long run.

Holiday Plants That Are Dangerous To Pets

Seasonal plants, such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe, feature prominently in many types of holiday decorations. Unfortunately, some of those popular plants are toxic to our furry companions.

Peace lilies, for instance, are in many winter bouquets, and are a popular choice for seasonal décor. Anything in the true lily family, which also includes the Day, Tiger, Easter, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies, is extremely toxic to cats. It’s worth noting that the entire plant is toxic. In fact, kitties can go into organ failure from just nibbling on a leaf or drinking a bit of the water. 

The amaryllis, another common winter plant, can cause intestinal blockages if ingested. It can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, abdominal pain, drooling, tremors, and anorexia. Yew is also highly poisonous to Fluffy and Fido, and can cause tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, seizures, and even death. Holly and mistletoe can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. 

Last but not least, we have poinsettias. They’re not as dangerous as some of the other plants listed, but can still cause stomach upset, vomiting, drooling, and oral irritation.

If you use real plants, keep them in high spots where your pet can’t get to them. Fake plants are a safer option, but they also can be dangerous. Some are treated with glitter or paint, which aren’t safe either. Others have small pieces, whether it’s a plastic ‘berry’ or a cute little elf figurine, which are choking hazards. Ask your Montgomery, AL  vet for more information. 

Keep Candles Out Of Paws’ Reach

Fires and pets are never a safe combination. This is definitely something to be aware of around the holidays. That pine-scented candle may make your home smell amazing, but it is not safe to burn within kitty range. Keep candles in high spots, well out of paws’ reach. That applies to wax burners and potpourri burners as well. If you use a fire pit or fireplace, put a thick grate in front of it to keep pets safely away.

Be Careful With Ribbons

Anything with ribbon or string is a huge danger to pets. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost, these items pose both choking and entanglement risks. That alone is reason enough to be cautious, but that isn’t all. If ingested, ribbon and strings can cause very serious internal injuries as it passes through your pet’s gastrointestinal system. These incidents may become life-threatening, and may require surgical intervention.

Some of the things to be careful of here include tinsel, light strands, ribbons, strings, garlands, and popcorn strands. Some handmade or cloth items can also be unsafe if they unravel. (Of course, it doesn’t help much that cats are often drawn to the things that are most dangerous for them.)

Guests And Pets 

Are you having guests over in the next few weeks? Keep your furry friends in mind here, too. Guests should of course never pose a direct threat: the concern is mostly that there could be a mishap. Ask guests to keep their room closed. This can prevent common mishaps, such as Fido chewing on their shoes or Fluffy leaving a perfectly-placed hairball on the bed. 

Tips For Keeping Pets Safe

In addition to decorating carefully, it’s also a good idea to distract your pets, and give them other things to occupy themselves with. Toys and treats are both ‘pawesome’ gift options for Fluffy and Fido. Taking time to play with your furry buddy will also help. Hopefully, a fun play session will tire your little buddy out enough so that they’re more interested in napping than in making mischief.

You may also need to tailor your decorative ideas to suit your pet and their personality. For instance, if you have a very anxious dog, putting a huge singing Santa in the yard may not be a good idea. As for Fluffy, well, if your kitty is a champion at smacking things off tables, then putting a set of fragile elf figurines on your coffee table will probably just result in you finding elves all over the floor. Ask your vet for more information.

In conclusion, the holidays can be a wonderful time for pets. After all, Fluffy and Fido are part of the family! You will just want to take a few precautions to make sure that your home is not only cozy and inviting, but also safe.

All of us here at The Animal Clinic, your local pet Montgomery, AL  hospital, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.

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