Pet-Friendly Holiday Decorating


holiday decorations

When you share your home with animal companions, it’s very important to take their safety into consideration as you start your holiday decorating. It doesn’t mean you have to forgo your lights, ornaments and greenery, but you may have to make some changes in order to keep your dog or cat from getting hurt or sick.

A Green Holiday

There’s nothing like the fragrance of a live tree, but the needles and tree water can be toxic if ingested. A lot of people balk at the idea of an artificial tree, but you’ll be surprised at how realistic the newest models look. We’ve had an artificial tree for quite a few years now, and although it doesn’t have that lovely evergreen scent, it looks just as nice as a live one once it’s decorated. Most importantly, the “needles” are non-toxic and fireproof, which means they’re a lot safer for both people and animals.

You can still use live greenery swags and wreaths, but things like pine, spruce, hemlock, holly and other seasonal greens can be harmful if eaten by a dog or cat. Make sure such decorations are hung out of your animal’s reach, and check regularly for any fallen berries, needles or cones. Get rid of greenery once it dries out and start to drop profusely.

Holiday plants such as poinsettias, amaryllis, Christmas cactus, cyclamen and potted Norfolk Island pines are popular gifts this time of year, but should also be kept out of your animal’s reach. Hanging baskets can work well for some of these plants. As with live greenery, check them frequently for dropped leaves or flowers.

Animal Friendly Ornaments

If you have breakable glass Christmas bulbs and other decorations, it’s a good idea to hang them near the top of the tree and reserve the bottom boughs for plastic and wooden ornaments. Yes, this does mean your tree won’t look perfectly decorated, but it’s better than having to rush your companion to the vet because he has shards of glass in his mouth or throat. It also preserves your more valuable ornaments from breakage.

Avoid hanging edibles on your tree, unless you want your canine companion stealing cookies and candy canes while your back is turned, and possible upsetting his stomach into the bargain. Popcorn strings may be traditional, but they’re a no-no if you have a dog who eats anything — including the string the popcorn is hung on. If you just can’t give up edible decorations, use them to adorn out-of-reach swags and wreaths. The same rule applies to tinsel, which can cause severe intestinal problems if swallowed.

By making a few compromises, taking some extra care, and using your imagination, you’ll find that dogs, cats and holiday decorations can co-exist happily and safety.

Natural Candles

The holidays wouldn’t be the same without the warm glow of candlelight. But what kind of candles are you burning? Paraffin candles emit toxins, including carcinogenic smoke and soot. Paraffin is a byproduct of petroleum and therefore not a healthy thing to be burning inside your home.

Popular alternatives include beeswax and soy candles, with natural cotton wicks if you can get them. In fact, burning beeswax candles can actually clean the air in your home by producing negative ions that help remove dust, allergens and odors.

Along with using non-toxic candles, remember to keep them well out of the way of waving tails or inquisitive noses or paws. Cats especially are often attracted by moving flames, so put your candles on surfaces your feline can’t access by jumping on. Wait until you sit down for dinner before lighting centerpiece candles, and never leave burning candles unattended.

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