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Holiday Decorating Guidelines for Pet Owners

December 15 2023

Season’s greetings! Do you dive headfirst into decorating at this time of year? Or do you prefer a more minimalist approach? Whether you’re orchestrating grand light displays that draw crowds or simply putting a few lights and candles in your windows, you’ll need to consider your pet. Playful dogs and cats are super cute, but they do tend to stir up some extra chaos during the holidays. A local veterinarian in South West Fort Wayne, IN, shares some insights on responsibly decking the halls in this piece.

Crafting a Pet-Friendly Tree

The stunning tree can pose significant risks to a frisky furball. Firstly, many adornments are unsafe. Any small or sharp items, including ornaments and ornament hooks, manger pieces, and small ornaments, are dangerous to Fido and Fluffy.

If you get a real tree, the tree could actually be toxic. 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. If you have a real tree, cover the water bowl. (Don’t skip watering the tree, though: dry trees present serious fire risks.) You’ll also just want to use plain water in the bowl. The ‘food’ packet provided by the tree store might harbor chemicals that are harmful to pets. 

Regularly pick up fallen needles and tinsel off the floor, as these are choking hazards for both kids and pets. 

Keeping Fluffy Out Of The Tree

Wreaking havoc on those pretty trees may very well be Fluffy’s favorite holiday tradition. Your feline pal’s obsession with trees is pretty much built-in. In the wild, kitties use trees for spotting predators, napping spots, and nail care. They also often climb them to seek safety from the weather or to escape predators.

Put only plain, sturdy ornaments on the lower branches. Hang all of the delicate, small, sharp, and/or stringy pieces in the upper sections. (Note: putting shiny ornaments within Fluffy’s reach is pretty much inviting kitty mayhem.)

Another tactic is limiting your feline friend’s access to the tree. Consider setting up a decorated puppy gate or perhaps strategically positioning gifts as barriers. Taste deterrents might also prove effective. If you have an extremely lively cat, consider using a clear fishing line to secure the tree’s top to the wall or ceiling.

You may want to opt for an artificial tree. Aside from being trickier for Fluffy to climb, this will save money and resources. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your pet drinking the water.

Consider Your Pet’s Personality

You may also need to tailor your decorative ideas to suit your pet and their personality. Some pets are just more prone to mischief than others are!

For instance, if you have a very anxious dog, putting an inflatable singing Santa in the yard may terrify your canine buddy. As for Fluffy, well, if your kitty is a champion at smacking things off tables, then putting that beautiful crystal angel your Grandma gave you on the coffee table is probably not a great idea. Ask your vet for more information.

Be Aware Of What Seasonal Plants Are Unsafe

Unfortunately, many seasonal plants like holly, ivy, and mistletoe are toxic to pets.

  • Amaryllis can cause intestinal blockages and symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, depression, abdominal pain, drooling, tremors, and loss of appetite in cats.
  • Holly and mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
  • Poinsettias can lead to upset stomachs, vomiting, drooling, and oral irritation.
  • Lilies are particularly hazardous. Any plants from the true lily family—which includes the Day, Tiger, Easter, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies—are poisonous to cats. All parts of the plant are toxic; even a small amount ingested can lead to organ failure.
  • Yew is also extremely perilous for pets, inducing tremors, breathing difficulties, vomiting, seizures, and potential fatality.

Keep real plants out of pets’ reach. Fake plants are a safer option, but they also can be dangerous. Some are treated with glitter or paint, which aren’t safe either. Others have small pieces, whether it’s a plastic ‘berry’ or a cute little elf figurine, which are choking hazards. Ask your South West Fort Wayne, IN veterinarian for further details.

Be Super Careful With Candles

Pets and fires are always a dangerous mix, especially during the holidays. Keep this in mind. A pine-scented candle may smell delightful and will definitely add a welcoming glow, but it’s not safe to have within reach of Fido and Fluffy’s cute paws. 

Only burn candles in high, secure spots. This also applies to wax burners and potpourri pots. Settling down with a cozy crackling fire? Put a sturdy grate in front of fire pits or fireplaces for pet safety.

Ribbons and Strings: Pretty Perils

Ribbons and strings are significant threats to pets, as they are both choking and entanglement dangers. These can also inflict severe internal injuries if ingested. These can cause life-threatening damage to your pet’s digestive system. These issues often require surgical intervention, and may be deadly.

Be careful with things like tinsel, lights, ribbons, strings, garlands, popcorn strands, and even handmade or cloth items that might unravel. If you get your feline pal a string toy, be sure to put it away after each use.

Use Basic Safety Measures With Guests

Are you having guests over in the next few weeks? Keep your furry friends in mind here, too. While guests themselves shouldn’t be a concern, there’s always a chance that an accident might occur. Ask guests to keep their rooms closed. This can prevent common mishaps, such as Fido chewing on their shoes or Fluffy leaving a perfectly placed hairball on the bed.

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 to reduce fur and dander in the air. You’ll also want to wash your pet’s bedding. If you have a dog, give Fido a good beauty session as well. You want your adorable canine buddy to put his best paw forward! 

Distract Your Pets To Keep Them Out Of Mischief

Never underestimate the power of bribing your pet. Give your furry pal something else to focus on. You may want to give Fido and Fluffy some of their gifts early. Tiring them out with a fun play session may also help. Tired pets are good pets! Spending time playing with your cute pet is a wonderful way to relax on a winter 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 delightful for pets—they are family, after all! Those snapshots of pets dozing by trees or fireplaces during this season are always heartwarming. Just take precautions to ensure your home is cozy, inviting, and most importantly, safe for your animal friends.All of us here at Animals First + Veterinary Hospital, your local Haddon Township, NJ veterinary clinic, wish you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. Please feel free to contact us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.

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