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Key Holiday Decorating Tips For Pet Owners

December 15, 2023

Season’s Greetings!! Do you go overboard decorating at this time of year? Or do you go for a minimal approach? Regardless of which end of that spectrum you fall under, you’ll need to consider your beloved furry companions. Fido and Fluffy may be extra cute around the holidays, but they can also cause quite a bit of chaos at this time of year. A Floyds Knob, IN veterinarian shares some tips on how to decorate responsibly in this article.

Always Keep Candles In Safe Places

Fires and pets are never, ever a safe combination. That beautiful pine-scented candle may smell amazing, and it may give your home a nice festive glow, but you’ll need to keep it well away from Fido and Fluffy. Keep wax burners and potpourri burners in safe spots as well. Put a thick grate in front of fireplaces or fire pits to keep pets safe before settling down in front of that cozy, crackling fire.

Know What Seasonal Plants Are Dangerous To Our Furry Pals

Those pretty seasonal plants add a warm, festive glow to any room. Unfortunately, many of them are toxic to our furry pals.

  • Lilies are a huge concern. Anything in the true lily family, such as Day, Tiger, Easter, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies, is poisonous to cats. It’s important to note that all parts of the plant are poisonous: even ingesting a small amount can lead to organ failure. 
  • Yew is extremely dangerous for Fluffy and Fido as it can result in tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and seizures possibly leading to death.
  • Amaryllis can cause intestinal blockages and symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, depression, abdominal pain, drooling, tremors, and loss of appetite if consumed by cats.
  • Holly and mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
  • While poinsettias aren’t as dangerous as some of the other plants we listed, they can still cause drooling, vomiting, and oral irritation.

Keep in mind that fake plants can also be dangerous. Some have glitter or paint on them, which aren’t safe either. Others may have small pieces, such as plastic ‘berries’ or cute little elf figurines, which can be choking hazards. Ask your Floyds Knob, IN veterinarian for more details.

Ribbons And Strings: Hidden Hazards For Playful Pets

Any items with rope, ribbon, or string are unsafe for pets. These pose both choking and entanglement risks. That alone should make you cautious. However, that’s not all. These things can cause very serious internal injuries as they pass through your pet’s gastrointestinal system. That sort of injury may require surgery, and can even be fatal.

Some of the things to watch for include tinsel, lights, ribbons, strings, garlands, and popcorn strands. Handmade or cloth items can also be unsafe if they unravel. 

Tailor Your Decorating Habits To Your Pet’s Personality

Keep your pet and their personality in mind when decorating. For instance, if you have a very fearful dog, think twice before putting that inflatable singing reindeer up in the yard. Some pets are more prone to mischief here than others. You’ll need to be more careful with a puppy that’s in his chew-everything stage than you would with a calm senior pooch who has outgrown those shenanigans. As for Fluffy, if your feline buddy 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 shattered elf parts all over the floor while your frisky pet looks proud of her destructive rampage.

How To Make Your Tree Pet-Safe

The beautiful tree can pose a serious hazard. First, many decorations are unsafe. In the wild, cats use trees for spotting predators, napping spots, and nail care. They also often climb them to seek safety from weather or to escape other animals. You can’t blame Fluffy for her interest, especially given the fact that the tree is hung with what appear to be cat toys.

Real trees are also a concern. Many trees that are grown commercially are treated with things like fire retardants, pesticides, and fungicides, which are all poisonous to pets. The water could also be contaminated, as these chemicals could leach into it. The tree store may have given you a packet of ‘food’ for your tree, but that may contain chemicals that aren’t safe for your pet. If you have a real tree, cover the water bowl. 

Finally, be sure to pick up fallen needles and tinsel, as these are choking hazards for kids and pets, and cause serious internal injuries if swallowed.

Can I Cat Proof My Tree?

That’s the million-dollar question. We’ve definitely gotten our fair share of amusing photos of mischievous kitties conquering their owners’ trees. 


Here are a few things you can try:

Put only plain, durable ornaments on the lower branches. Save anything delicate, tiny, pointy, or stringy for the upper portion of the tree. (Hanging shiny ornaments within paws’ reach is basically inviting chaos.) 

You can also try to restrict your feline friend’s access to the tree. One option is to set up a puppy gate, which can also be decorated. You can also strategically place presents to block Fluffy’s path of destruction. Using taste deterrents may also prove helpful.

Trickery can also be useful. Startling your furry pal when she approaches the tree may also work, though your results may vary. You’ll want to do something that will annoy your cat, without actually hurting or scaring her. When Fluffy approaches the tree, try making a loud noise. Some options for this include banging pots or pans, shaking a jar of change, setting off an alarm on your phone, stomping your foot, activating an air horn, or turning on that singing snowman. (Note: For many behavioral issues, we may recommend squirting your pet with water. However, this may not be advisable here, as it could damage the tree or gifts. Water could also pose a risk of fire or electrical damage if it were to get into the electrical outlets used for lights.)

If your feline pal is extremely frisky, use a clear fishing line to secure the top of the tree to the wall or ceiling. This won’t show, but will provide some extra support. 

Last but not least, consider getting a fake tree. In addition to being harder for your cat to climb, an artificial tree will also save you both money and resources in the long run. You also won’t have to worry about your pet drinking the water. 

Take Precautions With Guests

Are you hosting visitors this month? Keep your furry friends in mind here, as well. Guests should never pose a direct threat; the main concern is the possibility of mishaps. That could be anything from someone accidentally letting Fido out, or stepping on Fluffy’s tail to a child leaving a small toy out where your dog could reach it. Ask your guests to keep their rooms closed. This can prevent common mishaps, such as your canine buddy chewing on their shoes, or your feline friend leaving a perfectly placed hairball on their suitcase.

If your guests are allergic to pets, set out tissues and OTC meds for them. It’s also a good idea to vacuum and dust thoroughly, and change your air filters.

Final Tips:

Giving your furry pal something to occupy themselves with can help quite a bit. Toys and treats are both pawesome gifts for Fluffy and Fido. Why not give your cute pet some of their gifts a bit early?  You can also try tiring your pet out with a fun play session. Spending time playing with your cute pet is a great way to wind down a holiday night. Hopefully, after a fun play session, your little buddy will be tired enough to be more interested in napping than wreaking havoc.

Conclusion: The holidays can be a wonderful time for pets. After all, Fluffy and Fido are part of the family! Just take a few precautions to ensure that your home is both cozy and inviting, as well as safe.

Season’s Greetings from all of us here at the Animal Hospital of Lanesville, your Floyds Knob, IN veterinary clinic. Please feel free to contact us anytime!

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