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Pet-safe Christmas Decorating

dikman (Igor Dykman( [Flickr]

Keeping your pet safe during the holidays begins with choosing decorations carefully, and making sure you don't create an environment that will tempt your furry friend to get into trouble.  Remember, Santa may be watching!


This weekend is traditionally considered the official start of the Christmas season. Instead of the twelve days of Christmas, here are twelve ways to keep your pet safe this holiday.

Number one – if you put up a real tree, cover the base so your pet can’t drink the water which may contain chemicals to keep the tree green.

Two – clean up any pine needles that may fall. They are impossible to digest and can pierce your pet’s intestinal tract if eaten.

Three – make sure your tree is stable and will stay upright if a dog runs under it or a cat tries to climb it.

Number four – hide those electrical cords from playful paws and chewing teeth by taping them down or running them underneath a tree skirt.

Five – if you use tinsel, keep it high on the tree and out of reach of pets. It can cut a pet’s digestive tract or cause a blockage, requiring surgery.

Six – hang fragile ornaments high and secure them to the tree. Glass ornaments may be tempting for your pet to play with, but they shatter easily and can cut a pet’s feet or even its mouth.

Number seven – speaking of ornaments, be careful that your pet doesn’t get hold of the hooks, which can cause major problems if swallowed.

Eight – skip the artificial snow; it can be poisonous to your furry friend.

Nine – keep the potpourri out of reach, as it can contain oils and ingredients which could make your pet quite ill.

Number ten – garlands with popcorn and berries are another decoration which may appear edible to your pet but should not be eaten.

Eleven – a burning candle can be a fire hazard if your pet gets curious about the advent wreath, menorah, or just a decorative candle. Stick to the flameless ones and avoid a Christmas disaster.

And twelve – mistletoe may be fun and even romantic for us humans but its berries can be poisonous for our best friends, as can holly berries. Fake greenery can be pretty and not so dangerous for animals.

So there you have it – twelve ways to keep your furry family members safe throughout the holidays so you can both have a merry Christmas, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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