Keep your pets safe during the Holidays

The holidays are here again.


In the frenzy of decorating the house, baking cookies, shopping for presents, and all the other activities that keep us in a whirl, we often forget about our four-legged family members. They don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Kitten under tree

People are bringing in things they have never seen before. You’ve heard the saying,”Curiosity killed the cat.” Cats are by nature curious and anything new must be cat inspected.

There are colored lights and artificial garlands strung around. A real tree(or an artificial tree) is sitting up in a prominent place in the living room. Everybody is rushing around. It’s been at least an hour since someone has hollered at the dog or cat, or both, to get out  of the way.

Most families love Christmas. So many pictures of the kids and the pets are taken every year. A lot of parties are held, all kinds of finger food gets ground into the carpet,  and while all this is going on, your pets are digging out what crumbs they can find to nibble on.

There are just too many things to do,and pets sometimes are ignored. So how do we keep our pets safe during Christmas?

Pets love fancy foods, wrapping paper and bows

Cats and dogs are always interested in food. Their minds focus on food. This constant interest in food has been passed down through generations of cats and dogs from the wild, when life depended on catching prey.

If food is left out to cool, be sure pets can’t get to it. Cats can jump or climb almost anywhere and  dogs can jump up and knock things over in their quest for food.

Keep your pets out of the kitchen when doing the cooking and decorating. Always store Christmas cookies, cakes, etc. where pets can’t possibly get to them.

Pets are curious about presents. Especially cats. They love bows. My cats have always loved taking off bows as fast as I could tie them on.

I either had to wait until I was ready to give the present to the recipient, or lock everything away in a closet so my cats couldn’t get to them. Both cats and dogs love to rip off Christmas wrappings, too.

If you do crafts during the season,  Watch out what happens to glitter, sequins, artificial snow, paper clippings, glue, etc. Sweep everything up and put everything away when you are finished.

Pets can choke on small craft items. If ingested, these items can make a pet very sick and can sometimes be fatal. A trip to the vet during the holidays can be very inconvenient.

Outside Hazards During the Holidays

If you decorate outside, you can, by accident, leave things about that will harm your cat or dog.  If you leave your garage door open while putting up lights, your pets will find things to get into while you are celebrating with color.

You must be one  step ahead of them all the time. In the garage, under the car, antifreeze maybe dripping, and some animals love the taste. It is toxic for cats.

Electric cords running from a plug-in to the outdoor lights can be a hazard. Pets can get caught up in them and can actually electrocute themselves.

 The Tree and packages

Usually, the tree is the focal point of the decorations in every home. Some homes are decorated with several trees: one in the living room; one in the dining room or the parlor or the library. If you have a second story, you may put a tree in the hallway upstairs.

Only your imagination and pocketbook and the size of your house will dictate the amount of decorating you will do. Usually people who entertain a lot during the holidays will go all out with decorations. And why not? Christmas decorations are beautiful- the silver and gold with green and red make any home, large or small warm and inviting.

Cats cannot ignore a Christmas Tree.The lights, the shiny ornaments,the tinsel, all combine to give a cat an irresistible desire to thoroughly investigate and, yes, climb the Christmas tree.

The first attack is to take off all the low hanging ornaments. Some cats are content to do this. They will keep up this game as long as you will play it.

They bat off the low hanging ornaments in the evening. You find the ornaments on the floor in the morning and put them back on the tree. That is round one.  There are as many rounds as you will play.

When you have had enough of this charade, you can stop the game by putting ornaments on the upper limbs of the tree.  Leave the first three or four limbs empty of decorations. That will reduce the number of times you find ornaments on the floor.

None of my cats ever actually climbed my  Christmas tree. However, I have seen pictures of cats peeking out between the upper limbs of a tree, so I can believe one might do it.

Dogs like to root around in the packages. They are intrigued with sounds and smells coming from each package. Leave your dog alone and he’ll rearrange all the packages.

The best way out of this game is to not put out any packages until just before everybody gathers for the present exchange.

Food Hazards

Greyhound in costume

Dogs will eat just about anything. During the holidays, there are lots of finger foods and candies out that normally would be put away. If anything is available, dogs will find a way to get into it. Chocolate is particularly toxic to dogs. If you are sitting around nibbling on chocolates and suddenly decide to leave, take time to put the chocolates away.

One year, we had chocolates out and then decided to go out to dinner. I thought I had put the lid on the box before we left, but apparently I hadn’t put it on tight enough. The box was sitting on the coffee table.

When we got back home, my sweet Brittany had managed to get the lid off the box and helped herself to the chocolates.  She was one sick pooch. She survived, but we had one bad night.

If you have pets residing in the house, always put food away.


When you start decorating the house for Christmas–or for any other occasion- please remember you have four-legged pets in the house as well as small children. Decorate with care. Make sure everybody has a good time.

String garlands high up where cats can’t reach.  Leave the bottom three or four branches on your tree bare. Make sure extension cords are up off the floor. Food is put away. Don’t bring presents out until time to open. Check last years post on Holiday and pets.Home decorating with pets in mind

kitten in decorations

Now, have a wonderful holiday!

I’m Barbara Nelson, and I’d love to hear from my readers.Tell me what you think. Leave me a comment or two.






2 thoughts on “Keep your pets safe during the Holidays”

  1. After reading this article i rearranged the Christmas tree a bit. I left the first 2 rows bare and put less harmful ornaments on the bottom and the others higher up  on the tree like you suggested. We have a 7 year old cat and he doesn’t get into much trouble. But he’s been eyeballing the Christmas tree more often and hanging around it more. I feel like it’s only a matter of time he is a “curious cat” after all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *