How to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays

By John Martin - March 16, 2022

Cat and dog dressed for Christmas timeIt was snowing when I left our apartment this morning — one more sign that Christmas and Hanukkah are both coming up quickly. There are lots of great things about this time of year, but there are also a lot of new things around the house as well: foods, plants, decorations, people. And anyone with a pet knows that to cats and dogs, new things equal interesting things — just make sure they aren’t dangerous things as well.

One of the most obvious things to watch out for is your Christmas tree — and I’m not just talking about whether or not your cat will try to climb it. (Please note, your cat will try to climb it.) Pine needles can poke at an animal’s insides if eaten, so try to keep your furry family members from chewing on the branches.

As well, because some cats and dogs consider the world their water dish (hello, toilets!), don’t put any chemicals in the tree stand if you have a live tree. And consider leaving the tinsel off the tree, as the amusement of having a silver string hanging out of your cat’s butt is not worth the possible danger to their guts.

Other plants can also cause problems. Poinsettias, mistletoe, lilies, and holly are all dangerous if ingested; if you suspect your cat or dog has eaten any of these, call your vet right away. Lilies are particularly toxic to plants, as Luna the Fashion Kitty recently discovered.

Decorations can be a hazard too. Fake snow used in windows can be toxic if your pets eat it, for example. Watch out for class from any broken ornaments, and if you have decorations that are small enough for your cat or dog to swallow, try to put them higher up on the tree. I’ve got two cats who think electrical cords are delicious; hide the ones you can hide, and check the others for bites or fraying that can lead to shocks for your pet or the people in your home. If cords are damaged, the safest bet is to replace them. And as much as they love playing with them, keep ribbons out of reach of your cats — they can cause internal serious issues if swallowed.

My cats will try to eat anything that isn’t nailed down, with the exception of oranges. Everyone knows that chocolate is bad for dogs, but it’s not great for cats either. If you’re treating your pet with leftovers, watch out for bones — even large cooked bones can splinter and cause issues. And I don’t think it needs saying that it’s not great if your pet gets into your booze. Besides, who wants to share?

Finally, many of us host guests during the holidays, and it can get pretty hectic. It’s a great idea to set up a comfy spot in your place where your cat or dog can go to escape the madness. If your pet is particularly prone to running out the door when it opens, maybe consider keeping him or her in said comfy spot — for the sake of safety and your own sanity.

For a quick way to see if you’re missing any plant hazards, give this list a rundown.