How to pet-proof your holiday decorations


Kaleigh Steinorth

Kaleigh Steinorth

Blog author Kaleigh Steinorth

Kaleigh Steinorth writes for PolicyGenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers.

Published December 17, 2014|3 min read

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When you’re decking your halls this holiday season, keep in mind your favorite decorations might not be safe for your pets. However, this doesn’t mean you need to keep your living space barren and free of cheer. Follow these steps to make sure your holiday decorations are pet friendly.

1. Hang important ornaments on the top of the tree

Daniel Dudek-Corrigan

PetMD suggests keeping all of your fragile tree decorations near the top of the tree so your pets can’t reach them. The same goes for lights, as you don’t want them chewing on the cords.

2. Don’t use tinsel, it can cause intestinal obstruction

Mark Hobbs

This shiny tree trimming may be pretty, but it has the potential to seriously injure your pet. PetMD says that even ingesting a little bit could cause intestinal blockage, which would probably require surgery to remove. (It's exactly this kind of emergency that pet insurance is designed to help cover.)

3. Elevate the tree


If your pet just can’t stay away from the bottom branches of your tree, consider elevating it on a secure table, if it’s small enough to fit. Unless your pets are also track stars, this should keep them off your tree.

4. Mistletoe is toxic

Peregrine Blue

Natalie Lester of the PetSafe blog says to keep mistletoe far away from your pets, as it can cause low blood pressure, swollen throat tissue and mouth and vomiting. Conversely, poinsettias get a worse reputation than they should. Lester says that your pet will probably have a reaction if they eat the entire plant, but ingesting a few leaves won’t harm them.

5. Be careful with lit candles

Sarah Ross

Twinkly lights aren’t only a hazard on your tree. Christine Brackel of the Quicken Loans blog says to keep lit candles closely supervised. In a time of year where candles are more likely to be lit, and more flammable objects are likely to be around, it’s important to keep candles away from where your pet could knock them over.

6. Keep your pets out of the bottom of the tree

Michael Stahl

In a post about holiday pet safety, Jessica Remitz of Pet360 warns of how dangerous real trees can be to dogs. The oils in the tree can lead to vomiting, and the needles can hurt their stomach as well, and even puncture the lining of their intestinal tracts. There might also be preservatives on the tree to help it stay fresh longer, which will run off into the water and cause it to be poisonous. To keep your dog out of the tree, Remitz suggests tightly covering the base with a tree skirt and plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Brackel suggests also spraying the base of the tree with a lemon-scented air freshener to keep your pets away from it.

7. Don't buy anything with flocking on it

Lance McCord

Flocking, which is the white spray added to fake trees and wreaths that looks like snow, is also hazardous to pets if it’s eaten. Remitz says to just avoid buying anything with flocking on it that would be in your pet’s reach.

Read more pet advice for the holiday season:

8. No edible tree decorations


Putting popcorn or cranberries on your tree is basically asking your pet to jump on it and try to eat the treats. Brackel says to avoid putting edible decorations on your tree, unless you want it to become a big snack for your furry friends.

9. Create a pet safe haven for holiday parties


All of the hustle and bustle of the season could stress your pet out. If you’re having a lot of parties, it’s smart to create a safe haven room for your pets to relax in. This also eliminates the risk of them getting into any food or decorations they shouldn’t be in, when you’re probably not as attentive as usual.With a few adjustments, your home can still be merry and bright without being a tempting land of shiny disasters for your pet to wreak havoc in. If you keep dangerous objects away from them and show them plenty of attention when you can, all will be jolly.

Photo: Vicky TH