As the holiday season kicks into high gear, your to-do list is likely overflowing with items that still need to be checked off. During this chaotic time, things can easily fall through the cracks, especially when it comes to keeping your holiday decor safe from your pet, and vice versa. Fortunately, your Billings Animal Family Hospital team has your back. To make your holiday season run more smoothly and safely, we’ve outlined the best ways to pet-proof your home and prevent accidents from happening. 

#1: Barricade your tree to ensure your pet cannot reach it

The Christmas tree is the highlight of the holiday season, but can hold all sorts of hazards that may harm your furry pal. If your pet will not leave your tree alone, you may need to safely barricade it behind a baby gate. Consider switching to a small, tabletop version to remove temptation—out of sight, out of paw range—if this is your puppy or kitten’s first Christmas. 

Christmas tree hazards for pets include:

  • Tree needles — Whether artificial or real, the tree’s needles can pose a threat to your pet. Artificial needles can ball up in your pet’s intestines, requiring emergency surgical removal, while real needles can pierce the mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Real trees, such as fir, spruce, and pine, contain irritating sap and oil that can make your pet drool or vomit. 
  • Ornaments — Glass, porcelain, and ceramic ornaments can easily drop to the ground and shatter when batted by an inquisitive pet, leading to cut paws. Ornaments can also slide off slippery tree branches, despite their sharp metal hook, which can become lodged in your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Opt for soft hooks instead of the typical metal ones, and place delicate ornaments out of reach.
  • Tree water — While trying to keep your tree bright and green, you’re likely adding chemicals to the tree stand water to increase longevity. However, those chemicals can be toxic for your pet, as can mold that develops in the water. Play it safe and purchase a covered tree stand. 
  • Light strands — Dazzling lights can tempt your pet into gnawing on electrical strands, causing a shock or burn. Invest in cord and plug covers for maximum safety.

#2: Place delicate decorations well out of your pet’s reach

In addition to fragile ornaments, many other holiday decorations are delicate and can easily break around a rambunctious pet. Ceramic nativity scenes and Christmas villages placed under the tree can shatter and leave piercing shards for unsuspecting paws and feet. Many fragile heirlooms and keepsakes are put on display over the holidays, and can break in the commotion of holiday festivities. Any delicate items should be placed well out of your pet’s reach.

#3: Block your pet from dashing out open doors

Open doors, distracted guests, and armfuls of gifts and food create the perfect recipe for disaster. Your pet will see their opportunity to bolt out the unattended door, potentially darting into traffic or a snowstorm. Keep your furry pal safe by confining them to a crate or bedroom as guests enter and leave. In case of an accident or they become lost, ensure your pet is doubly identified with a current collar ID tag and microchip registration.

#4: Limit your pet’s holiday treats

The holidays are a time of overindulgence, but sharing too much with your four-legged friend puts them at risk for pancreatitis, gastrointestinal upset or obstruction, or a food toxicity. When spoiling your pet with a special holiday treat, stick to plain, mashed sweet potatoes, fresh veggies, or skinless, boneless turkey. Avoid bones, foods high in fat, or those that are on the ASPCA’s list of toxic foods

#5: Do not bring pet-toxic plants into your home

While flowers and plants brighten your home over the dull, dreary winter, many plants can be toxic to pets. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic, but they can irritate your pet’s mucous membranes, causing drooling and vomiting. Truly toxic plants include holly, mistletoe, Christmas cactus, and lilies. Consider choosing an off-season plant to adorn your home, but avoid these toxic plants

Planning for all possible holiday hazards when you have a pet around can be tough, but if your furry pal gets into mischief this holiday season, rest assured that your Billings Animal Family Hospital team is here for you—give us a call