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Pet-Proof Your Holiday Decorations

Published on: November 23, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

French bulldog with Christmas decorations“Ho, ho, ho!” says your dog or cat when they spot your holiday decorations. “What have we here? Just think what I can do with all this great stuff!”

Don’t let those silly pets take the merry out of your holidays. It’s supposed to be the season of joy for all, and if you take some pet-specific precautions, it will be. Most pet-proofing is simply common sense, but there are some hazards we humans don’t always recognize as dangerous.

The key to successfully pet-proofing holiday decorations is to know your pet(s). Some are more prone to mischief-making than others. For example:

  • Cats and dogs are attracted to movement. Your cat may want to take a swing or two at ornaments on your tree or strings of twinkly lights hanging within reach. The flickering candles on your menorah? Irresistible - along with all those decorative candles you’ve carefully placed around your home.
  • Pets create movement on their own. Some wild-mannered cats love to leap up high – onto your mantel or shelves, or into your Christmas tree. And while we usually love the exuberance of wagging dog tails, they can be a real concern around holiday decorations, especially if your pooch is a taller breed.
  • Pets are attracted to things that shine - tinsel, shiny ornaments, table decorations, and wrapping paper.
  • Some dogs and cats insist on personally tasting or chewing almost everything.
  • Pets are attracted to interesting smells – and what smells more enticing than festive greenery and all that yummy holiday food?

You can’t enjoy the holidays if you’re constantly worried about damage or chastising your pets. They won’t enjoy that, either.

So how can you pet-proof?

Hopefully, your pet doesn’t exhibit all the above tendencies. At least in excess. You can focus on minimizing the issues that apply to your household. However, if you expect guests accompanied by pets, remember their cat and/or dog may have different ideas. Being aware of all the potential problems will help you be prepared.

Put anything potentially dangerous out of reach.

  • Any foreign object, whether it’s tree needles, tinsel, paper, ribbon, etc. can cause digestive problems or worse for dogs and cats. Oils in some types of trees are at least mildly toxic. So are several plants common around the holidays, including poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, lilies, daffodils, amaryllis, and similar blooming bulbs.
  • If you have a Christmas tree, you can keep pets away by elevating it, if it’s a smaller size. Otherwise, if you’re concerned about crashes, use colorful twine or something else to stabilize the tree.
  • For larger trees, you can also spread “tacky mats” underneath (pets don’t like stepping on the sticky surface), or spray lower branches with lemon air freshener. Bitter apple repels most dogs, and it’s odorless. You can sprinkle orange or lemon rind or potpourri under the tree unless your pet is likely to eat it. Or simply surround the tree with a low fence or gate like you’d use to keep toddlers away. The problem isn’t only pets gnawing or climbing, you don’t want them drinking the tree’s water, either.
  • Put breakable and heirloom ornaments high enough on your tree, wreathes, garland, etc. so pets can’t deliberately or accidentally damage them. And skip edible decorations such as popcorn strands – that’s just asking for trouble.
  • If you must “decorate” with dishes of pretty candies or chocolates, use pet-proof covered dishes.
  • Wrap or otherwise conceal electrical cords. You’re probably using more than usual this time of year, and they present two dangers. You don’t want pets chewing them and getting shocked, nor do you want anyone getting entangled and injured.
  • Set your menorah out of reach, and never light decorative candles unless you can keep an eye on them. Singed fur, paws, or noses can ruin holiday fun for everyone.
  • Don’t want your dog underfoot in the kitchen? Move their crate to a location where they can remain inside but still watch (and smell) the action.

Create some calm in the chaos

It’s easy for pets – and children – to get over-stimulated during the holidays. Every sense is on overload, and daily routines are off schedule. Your pet needs a stress-free holiday. Try to maintain usual feeding and walk/play times. Pick a room where your cat or dog can have quiet time away from parties – with plenty of toys or treats to keep them occupied. And don’t skimp on the one-on-one time. After all, ‘tis the season of love.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

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