Deck the halls with boughs of holly… but keep the berries away from people and pets. While the holidays are a glorious time for most of us, be sure to keep your furry friends in mind when choosing your Chanukah bush or Christmas tree. Keep your tinsel trimmed and be mindful of your mistletoe with these pet-friendly holiday decorating ideas.
Christmas Tree Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe
Real or fake? That’s the question most families ask at this merry time of year. While pets and trees make for some fabulous photo opportunities, there’s always the risk of one knocking over the other. Whether your dog crashes into your tree, or the tree falls down on the cat, it isn’t something to celebrate. Trees can be anchored to the floor, the wall or the ceiling. Having the tree around before the decorating begins is a great way for your cat or dog to get used to the new addition. But keep an eye out for errant pine needles, as they can irritate skin and eyes, and ingesting them may cause gastrointestinal issues. Cats are natural tree climbers, but with strategically placed orange peels or a spray or two of citronella, even the most curious of kitties will want to stay away. What smells citrusy and fresh to the human nose is a natural repellant for felines. Be sure to keep tree water covered and away from thirsty tongues. Read 8 Tips to Dog-Proof your Christmas Tree for more helpful tips.
Decorating Do’s and Don’ts
Ornaments, fairy lights and candles bring warmth and charm to most rooms. But having them in the wrong spots can bring a lot more than you bargained for. Now is the time to make use of shelving and mantelpieces. Fragile ornaments will look best higher up on the tree, rather than smashed on the floor. Some dogs may mistake power bars for chew-toys, and keeping plugs and pets away from each other when you’re not around may be in everyone’s best interest. Tinsel is shiny and pretty and, for some cats and dogs, it’s tasty too. While it isn’t considered a toxin, tinsel can be easily swallowed and tangled up inside your pet’s system, resulting in an unplanned holiday visit – to the vet.
Food and Drink Risks to Your Pet
Holidays are a time for feasts and treats and your home decor may reflect it. Keep an eye on edible decorations, like candy canes and popcorn garlands which are as tasty to animals as they are to humans. Holiday baking may disappear in seconds if left within reach of clever counter surfers. Chocolate is toxic for dogs, as are caffeine and alcohol. Your holiday table will likely be filled with goodies from honeyed hams to trussed turkeys. Don’t forget that small bones can splinter and damage your pets inside and out. Sneaking scraps to those adorable staring eyes may feel like harmless holiday cheer but could result in vomiting or diarrhea. If hosting a holiday gathering, it might be best to take your dog to doggy day care or a dog boarder.
The Perils of Plants
With reds and greens being the dominant holiday colour schemes, it’s no surprise that we choose the reddest and greenest plants of the season. And with our Canadian winters, it’s not like we have a huge selection! Holly, mistletoe, pines and poinsettias all make for a classic Christmas feeling, but all happen to be dangerous plants for dogs and cats. When it comes to flowers, opt for roses and orchids over lilies and amaryllis. And for those pets who just can’t resist the lure of the flora, consider purchasing a tree defender. For more information, check out The 5 Most Dangerous Holiday Plants for Pets.
Be Present for Presents
Gifts look great underneath the tree…just ask your dog or cat. Some may love to curl up in an empty box, while others may opt for a shred session. Either way, while a brightly wrapped package adds to the festive feeling, once those wrappers are torn off, be sure to dispose of them. Ribbons, paper, plastic bags and other gift debris are best kept away from curious mouths and paws.
The best addition to your holiday look – and all year long – is having your dog or cat by your side. Even Santa kept his pets close-by, jingling all the way.
For more tips and tricks to keep your dogs and cats safe this holiday season, check out these articles:
7 Holiday Hazards for Dogs
What to Do When There’s a Pet Emergency During the Holidays
When is the Best Time to Book a Holiday Pet Sitter?