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Arch Creek Animal Clinic
Call us today! 305-945-1223
Give us a call today! 305-945-1223

15372 W Dixie Hwy, 
North Miami Beach,
FL 33162

Holiday Decorating Tips for Pet Owners

December 15 2023

Season’s Greetings! Do you go all out with holiday decorations? Or do you opt for a more reserved approach? Whether you’re orchestrating grandiose light displays that draw crowds from afar, or simply adorning your windows with lights and candles, you’ll need to consider your beloved furry companions. Fido and Fluffy tend to dial their frisky settings up to 11 at this time of year! A local North Miami Beach, FL veterinarian shares insights on responsibly decking your halls with seasonal decor in this feature.

Make The Tree Pet Safe 

That splendid tree can pose a hazard to a playful pet. When discussing petproofing, we always stress that anything small or sharp is unsafe. When it comes to the holidays, that encompasses a whole slew of popular decorations. These include small ornaments, ornament hooks, tinsel, pine needles, ribbons, manger pieces, figurines, and anything fragile. Keep these types of things well away from Fido and Fluffy. 

You’ll also want to pick up pieces of needle or tinsel that have fallen to the ground: these things are choking hazards for pets, and can cause serious internal injuries if swallowed. 

If you have a real tree, the water might contain traces of pesticides, herbicides, or fire retardants, all of which are unsafe for Fido and Fluffy to ingest. We’d also advise that you only use plain water in the bowl. The ‘food’ packet from the tree store likely contains unsafe chemicals. You may even want to consider covering the bowl.

You may also want to opt for a fake tree. In addition to being harder for your cat to climb, an artificial tree will also save you both money and resources in the long run. You also won’t have to worry about your pet drinking the water. 

How to Safeguard the Tree from Cats

There’s also the issue of keeping your cat out of the tree. Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof method here. You can’t blame Fluffy for wanting to climb the tree: in the wild, trees provide cats with shelter, safety, and lookout points. As far as your cute pet is concerned, you just offered her a tree of her own, hung with shiny new cat toys to boot. This is definitely a recipe for kitty mischief!

However, you can make the tree less appealing.

Put only a few dull, unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches. Hang most of the ornaments, including small, sharp, delicate, or stringy items, on the upper part. (Putting glittery ornaments within paw’s reach of Fluffy’s play zone is practically an invitation to mischief.) 

You can also try to block Fluffy’s access to the tree by using a puppy gate or strategically placed presents as barriers. Taste deterrents—particularly citrus ones— can also be helpful. Another thing you can do is try to make your furry little friend a bit wary of the tree. Whenever she approaches it, make a loud noise or squirt her with water. The hope is that this will annoy her just enough to make her keep her distance. Ask your North Miami Beach, FL vet for more advice on teaching your feline pal better petiquette.

Be Careful With Seasonal Plants 

Many festive plants, such as holly, ivy, and mistletoe, feature prominently in holiday decor. Unfortunately, some are toxic to our furry friends.

  • Peace lilies, which are common in winter bouquets and decor, are extremely hazardous to cats. (Note: anything in the true lily family, which includes Day, Tiger, Easter, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies, is deadly to kitties.) In this case, the entire plant poses a threat, and is capable of causing organ failure. All it takes is a nibble of a leaf or a sip of the water! 
  • Amaryllis, another prevalent winter plant, can cause intestinal blockages and various symptoms if ingested. 
  • Yew, another seasonal favorite, is highly poisonous, and can cause tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting, seizures,  or even death for pets if ingested.
  • Holly and mistletoe might lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. 
  • Poinsettias, while less perilous, can provoke stomach upset and oral irritation.

Real plants should be kept out of paws’ reach. Of course, fake ones might carry their own risks. Some may contain unsafe substances like glitter or paint, while others feature small parts that could be choking hazards, like plastic ‘berries’ or figurines.

Be Very Careful With Candles and Flames

Pets and fires are never a safe mix, especially during the holidays. That yummy-smelling pine candle might make your home smell great, but it’s not safe for kitties. Place candles in high spots, out of paw’s reach. You’ll also need to secure wax burners and potpourri burners. Settling in with a cozy crackling fire? Install a sturdy grate in front of fire pits or fireplaces to keep pets away.

Be Careful With Risky Ribbons

Anything with ropes, ribbon, or string is dangerous to pets. There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost, these items pose both choking and entanglement risks. That alone is reason enough to be cautious, but that isn’t all. If ingested, ribbon and strings can cause very serious internal injuries as they pass through your pet’s gastrointestinal system. These incidents may become life-threatening, and may require surgical intervention.

Some things to be careful of here include tinsel, light strands, ribbons, strings, garlands, and popcorn strands. Some handmade or cloth items can also be unsafe if they unravel. (Of course, it doesn’t help much that cats are often drawn to the things that are most dangerous for them, but that’s another topic.)

Keeping The Peace With Pets And Guests

Having guests? Keep your four-legged pals in mind here, as well. Guests should never pose a threat; the main concern is that a mishap could occur. This could be anything from someone accidentally letting Fido out or stepping on Fluffy’s tail to a child leaving a new toy out where your new puppy could chew on it. Ask guests to keep their rooms closed, and to keep personal items out of paws’ reach. We’d also recommend asking guests not to feed or play with your pet without checking with you. This can prevent common mishaps, such as your dog chewing on their shoes, or your cat leaving a perfectly placed hairball on the bed.

If your guests are allergic to pets, set out tissues and OTC meds for them. It’s also a good idea to vacuum and dust thoroughly and change your air filters. These small touches can go a long way towards helping people feel safe and welcome.

Additional Tips

In addition to decorating carefully, it’s also a good idea to distract your furry friends, and give them other things to occupy themselves with. Toys and treats are both ‘pawesome’ gift options for Fluffy and Fido. Taking time to play with your furry buddy will also help. Hopefully, a fun play session will tire your little buddy out enough so that they’re more interested in napping than in making mischief.

In conclusion, the holidays can be delightful for pets as they’re family! Just ensure your home is both inviting and safe. Follow the precautions we’ve listed above, and keep a close eye on Fido and Fluffy. Ask your North Miami Beach, FL vet for more pet care tips.

All of us here at Arch Creek Animal Clinic, your North Miami Beach, FL pet hospital, wish you a wonderful, safe, and happy holiday. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care.