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Decorating with Dog Safety in Mind

Keeping the Holidays Merry and Bright for Fido

December 4, 2019
by Kelley O'Toole

The holidays are a joyous time filled with family, friends and fun. It can also be stressful as we try to juggle holiday “to do’s” on top of our regular activities. Before you hang the stockings with care or place gifts under the Christmas tree, do yourself and your furry family members a favor and learn about common holiday dangers for dogs and cats.

Key Tips for Holiday Pet Safety  

Being mindful of the following risks and dangers for your household pets will help guarantee a happy holiday season for everyone.

Yuletide Plants
There are some mixed messages out there about what is and isn’t dangerous for your dog when it comes to traditional holiday plants. Let’s clear it up right now:

  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are moderately toxic to your pet. For example, the sticky white sap in poinsettias can cause mild mouth or stomach irritation if ingested. The exception here is European mistletoe which can be quite toxic to pets.
  • Both live and artificial Christmas trees can cause stomach irritation for your dog. The primary concern with artificial trees are toxins released from the artificial material and possible intestinal obstruction as the artificial material is not digestible.
  • Live trees can cause stomach irritation. Sharp pine needles may even puncture your dog’s intestines if ingested. And don’t forget about tree water. Preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers and other agents like aspirin are commonly used in the tree water to keep the tree fresh. These may have harmful or deadly consequences for your dog (or cat!) if they drink the water. Consider a covered tree water dish for maximum safety.
  • If your dog has chewed on or ingested parts of the Christmas tree or other holiday plants, monitor him or her for changes in behavior. These can range from excessive licking or salivating to changes in appetite, water consumption or even vomiting and diarrhea.

Holiday Decorations
Don’t let the length of this list intimidate you…

  • Tinsel adds sparkle to any tree, but make sure you hang it up and out of your dog's reach, or for the highest level of pet safety, simply don’t use it. Ingesting tinsel can potentially block their intestines, which is generally only resolved through surgery.
  • Avoid putting lights on the lower branches of your tree. Not only can your dog get tangled up in them, they can get shocked should they bite through a wire. To prevent any accidental electrocutions, exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the wall or the sides of the house. Any wires extending away from the wall should be wrapped in hard protective plastic to make them less interesting.
  • Ornaments and edible decorations like popcorn strings should be kept out of your dog’s reach. Besides being a hazard for choking or intestinal blockage, shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths or other parts of your dog.
  • Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantels to keep them out of the path your dog’s wagging tail. Never leave lit candles unsupervised. And if you have a fireplace in your home, use screens to avoid accidental burns.
  • Keep your dog in another room when gift wrapping. Wrapping paper, string and ribbon present the risk of intestinal blockage if ingested. Scissors are another pet safety hazard, and they should be kept off floors and low tables. Be cautious about leaving wrapped gifts with ribbon and bows under the tree where your dog can get to them.


Pet Safety Resources

If you think your dog has ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian or animal poison control center right away. The sooner you diagnose a possible poisoning situation, the easier it is to potentially treat. We hope these tips help ensure a safe, happy and healthy holiday season for your and dog. Happy Holidays from Aldens Kennels. Visit us anytime at