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Time To Deck The Halls: Holiday Decorations That Are Dangerous To Your Pets

December 6, 2012

I love Christmas decorations.

Unfortunately, so do pets.

Photo courtesy slam szapucki

Every Christmas season when my mom puts out her Christmas tree, we swear that her fluffy orange cat Max is convinced that it’s a large toy put up for his enjoyment. For the next few weeks, my mom is constantly finding ways to disuade Max from playing with, climbing in and chewing on the tree.

And the Christmas tree is just one of several holiday decorations we need to be mindful of. This time of year we bring out and set up all sorts of things that can be hazardous to our pets.

So as you start decking your halls, take a quick look at the list below for items you should keep out of your pets’ reach.

1. Tinsel – This is one of the most dangerous holiday decorations for pets. Even a few strands can wrap around your cat’s tongue or cause an intestinal obstruction, which can be fatal. Please keep tinsel out of your pet’s reach, if you feel you *must* have it.

Similarly, also watch out for ribbons and bows. My cats are so obsessed with ribbons that we decided to stop using them on presents. However, I don’t mind too much, as I’d rather have healthy cats than stylishly wrapped gifts.

Photo courtesy fluterirl

2. Delicate or treasured ornaments – When I was a child, I learned a valuable lesson. Christmas trees can fall over, which can mean the certain death of treasured, delicate ornaments. The same goes for breakable decorations: Keep all treasured objects away from your pets. You never know when your CH cat will pull an ornament off a tree or knock into a table, sending your ceramic Santa to the floor.

3. Angel hair – This finely spun fiberglass was used in vintage decorations and has since been taken off the market. That said, some old decorations may still have it, so check your Christmas decorations just in case. Today there are similar products, made from PVC, that may also cause health problems. 

4. Holly berries – Holly berries are one of several Christmas plants that are toxic to cats. Read through the list so you’re familiar with all of them, and if you happen to have one of the plants in your home, please keep it out of the reach of your pets.

5. Christmas lights – I’ll never understand this, but there’s just something about cats and cords. Unfortunately, the holidays usually mean more cords, including Christmas tree lights. Dangling cords can be especially enticing. Tuck away the cords where ever possible. You may also want to consider spraying them with a bitterant, which makes them less palatable to your pets.

Photo courtesy aka Kath

6. Lit candles – Candles can really be beautiful this time of year; just make sure that they’re on stable surfaces that can’t be reached or jostled by a pet.

7. Edible ornaments – Like we mentioned before, sometimes our pets think our Christmas decorations are up for their enjoyment. That said, edible ornaments can be the frosting on the cake, so to speak. Edible ornaments may smell or taste enticing; however, since they’re usually covered in paint, glue or glitter, they obviously shouldn’t be swallowed.

No matter what, try to cut back on the number of edible decorations on your tree, and if you must have them, place them up high and out of reach. PS, even treats like candy canes can cause health problems, so decorate accordingly!

8. Preservatives on your tree – In order to make sure that our trees last the holiday season, many are treated with chemical preservatives. Unfortunately, these chemicals can leach into the water bowl at the bottom of the tree. Cover up the water bowl (with a tree skirt, aluminum foil, towel, etc.) to make sure that your pet doesn’t even think about lapping up that water.

9. Imitation snow (flocking) – Like several other decorations on this list, imitation snow can also be hazardous to pets. If possible, opt for another decoration instead.

Photo courtesy collinj

10. Christmas trees – Christmas trees are simultaneously a Christmas staple as well as hazard. That said, taking precautions, like those above, can limit issues. Simply watch your pet around the tree, take the above suggestions into account, and make changes as necessary. We’ll have more details on how to have a safe Christmas tree soon!

And one last nugget of wisdom: If this is your cat’s first Christmas with you, take it easy with the decorations. Watch how he reacts to them, and respond accordingly. This way you’ll be able to make sure that he has a wonderful first Christmas.

Have you had to cut back on Christmas decorations for the sake of your pet? Have you found alternatives to use instead? Please share your stories in the comments!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Renee permalink
    December 6, 2012 11:09 am

    We had to put up a baby gate around our Christmas tree the first two years after getting Kiki, because she had trouble NOT climbing it! THis year however, she is doing great without the gate. We put anything that dangles higher up and that seems to have worked well for her this year so far.

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