Holiday Home Safety Tips for Pets

No time of year is more beautiful than the holidays. Lights, greenery and decorations of all kinds turn our mundane worlds into something magical.  The wonder of the season appeals not only to humans but also to our furry friends as well. The changes in our environment cause our pets to be curious and sometimes even downright naughty. Remember the old adage, “Curiosity killed the cat?” Well, sometimes, curiosity can be harmful to our other pets, such as dogs and bunnies too.

Christmas trees with lights and ornaments can be very beautiful to look at.  To an animal, especially a cat, they can also look like a giant play area. Christmas trees can be fraught with danger for our pets. An unsecured tree can tip over, breaking ornaments and injuring both people and animals. Securing a tree to the wall or a door knob with fishing line can help ensure that doesn’t happen. Broken glass ornaments can cut the pads of a pet’s paws if they walk through it and salt dough ornaments can be toxic if eaten. Tinsel can cause intestinal blockages, which may require surgery. The lights can cause burns, electrocution and even death if the wires are chewed.  

Holiday plants pose another danger for our pets. Amaryllis, mistletoe, pine, cedar, holly, poinsettias and potpourri can be quite toxic to an animal. If eaten, a call to your vet is certainly in order and an office visit may be warranted. It is a good idea to keep the ASPCA’s Poison Control and the local emergency vet’s number handy. For a complete list of plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats, please visit the ASPCA’s website at

Another danger for both pets and humans are candles. Candles should never be left burning unattended. Animals should never be left unsupervised around candles as they can burn themselves or knock them over creating a fire hazard.

Animals may also be sensitive to changes in their environment, so it’s important to pay attention to your pet’s reactions. Sometimes our pets have odd reactions to decorations and since they can’t tell us, we truly never know why.  I had a snowman decoration hanging in my kitchen that, for some reason, scared my dog. He would bark and growl at it, and whenever he had to walk by it, he wouldn’t take his eyes off of it. Needless to say, it had to come down. 

Careful preparation and supervision will make the holidays joyful and less stressful for all.