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December 1, 2011 at 11:18 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Pet-Proofing Christmas Tips

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

It is that time of year again.... jingle bells, sugar cookies and holiday cheer!

Truly, it's a wonderful thing - but did you know all the seasonal decorations and treats ALSO make this the time of year that most pets end up at the vet's emergency clinic? :/

Don't let your pet be one!

Here are some tips on keeping your pets safe and in good cheer around the holidays.

The Christmas Tree

An indoor tree for ME?! And oh! It comes with dangly toys!

Cats LOVE Christmas trees, but they don't understand that this particular tree isn't made for them to climb. Monitor your kitty when they begin to explore this new thing in their living room and be sure to do the following:

  • Avoid Tinsel and Sharp Metal Hooks. If swallowed, your pet will need to go to the vet and possibly have surgery. A safer option would be plastic ornament hangers or ribbons to hang them.
  • Don't Hang Them TOO Low. Kitty doesn't understand why she can't bat these around.
  • Keep Food Off the Tree. It may look pretty, but popcorn and cranberries strewn around the tree look pretty edible to your pet. Avoid hanging any edible ornaments or decorations.
  • Do Not Put Chemicals in your Christmas Tree's Water. Instead, use plain ol' sugar instead and keep your pets from drinking the water (It will get old and have pine needles in it). A tree skirt will help prevent them from getting to it.
  • Consider Securing Your Tree. There are devices out there so if kitty gets curious and climbs, your tree won't topple over.
  • Don't Leave Edible Gifts Unattended. Avoid putting edible Christmas gifts under the tree.

Lessons Learned: Izzy's Christmas Story # 1

Our Izzy decided last Christmas that 3 bags of gourmet coffee grounds (wrapped in cardboard boxes and under the Christmas tree) were a good enough item to get into. When I got home, the kids and I found trails of coffee grounds (yes, all three bags were ripped open) throughout our house. I was only gone for 15 minutes, thank goodness she didn't eat it!


  • Secure Electrical Cords. Many pets will love to chew on these so be sure to tape, cover and secure your cords.
  • Keep Candles Out Of Reach. Fire + Pets = Bad Idea/ Keep candles high and out of reach of your pets.
  • Guard The Fireplace. Make sure your fireplace is blocked with a protective screen.
  • Keep Poisonous Holiday Plants Out Of The House. Poinsettia, Mistletoe, Holly and Amaryllis are beautiful holiday plants, but unfortunately, they are all very poisonous to your pets. If ingested, vomiting, diarrhea and other serious issues may occur. Avoid these plants if you have pets. If you must have the look, get crafty. Our daughter made us a Mistletoe branch out of pipe cleaners and bells (purchased at a craft store) and we hang this high and away from our pets. Fake plants are another great option.


  • Keep Wrapping Away. Ribbons and bows, if swallowed, can be deadly to your pets. Be mindful when opening gifts and do not have your pets around these items without supervision. Remove wrapping paper, ribbons and bows immediately to prevent accidental swallowing. In fact, it is probably best to just remove your pets during present opening time and to bring them back out after everything has been cleaned up.
  • Check the Bag After Clean Up. Double check your garbage bag to make sure your kitten or puppy didn't sneak in there before throwing it outside. It has happened!
  • Keep Little Pieces Out of Reach. Small toy and Barbie pieces may look like treats to your pets. Teach your children not to leave their new beloved toys on the floor - unless they don't mind playing with a chewed up Barbie. ;)

Treats and Sweets and Holiday Dinner

Please review my two previous blogs on holiday dinners and which human foods are safe to feed your pets. These tips will help to keep your fur kid's tummies are both satisfied and safe.

Lessons Learned: Izzy's Christmas Story # 2

Two Christmas ago, we had a bowl of chocolate candy out on our end table by the couch. We came home to nothing but wrappers all over our living room floor, an empty candy dish and a sheepish smile on Izzy's face as if she was saying to us What? Is their a problem? She ate the whole bowl of candy, approximately 15 pieces of miniature candy bars. We were extremely lucky that our little Izzy didn't get sick or need medical assistance! Romeo of course, sat looking from Izzy to us - shaking his head as if telling us I tried to tell her mom, but she wouldn't listen to me.

Guest and Pets

Check out the tips from my previous blog in regards to keeping both your guests and your pets happy. Here is a brief reminder...

  • Watch the Door. Be mindful of the doors opening and closing as guest are coming and going. Dogs and cats can be sneaky and door dart!
  • Consider Your Pet's Comfort With Kids. Often times, children and pets do not mix well. Unfortunately, your dog cannot communicate that the children are bothering him or making him nervous. Pets may nip out of fear or stress and so I would advise you keep watch when they are together,
  • Give Your Pet a Guest-Free Zone. It is not fair to expect your pets to enjoy having many people in their territory. Remember, this is not the time to practice his training. Keep your guest and your dog happy by keeping your dog in a quiet secluded area. Inform your guest they are not to disturb your dog unless they have your permission first. Your dog will appreciate your leadership in this decision making process. And remember to give your cats their quiet secluded space too!

A final note on Izzy's Christmas Story's.

Izzy is safely locked away in our library with a beautiful view of the backyard and critters. We no longer have worries of what we might come home to when it comes to Izzy-ism's! Romeo, Casey and Oliver have all been good little pets around the holidays.

Follow these friendly holiday tips and you and your pets will have a wonderful and safe HOWL-I-DAY!

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  • Thanks for all the great tips, Victoria. I am going to share this blog with my parents! This will be their first Christmas with their new dog, Zip. He already LOVES getting into food on the counter. They also have a pet cat which likes climbing into the tree every year too.

  • A squirt bottle with water will help teach kitty that the tree is not their place to climb :)

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