Keenan’s felt tree

If you’re a parent of young children, you’ve either given up on Christmas décor or mastered the art of baby-proofing it. My son is almost two, so keeping his hands off the tree is about as easy as stopping a blizzard. One day while browsing Pinterest, I found the perfect solution; I made him a felt tree and matching felt ornaments so that he could decorate his own tree and keep his hands off of mine. And the best part is, it works!

If you’re a pet parent, pet-proofing might not be so easy. Your dogs and cats can probably jump and climb higher than your toddler, and they move a lot faster. Holiday decorations aren’t made with pets in mind, so if you’re sprucing up the house for Santa Claus, here are some ways to keep your pets free from harm.

Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree, especially a real one, can be a serious hazard for nosy dogs and curious cats. Here are some tips for pet-proofing your Christmas tree.

  • Avoid fragile ornaments. If you do have fragile ornaments, hang them near the top of the tree. Broken ornaments could cause lacerations or intestinal obstructions.
  • Secure your tree properly. Pets may be tempted to climb the tree or hide underneath it, so make sure to secure it really well. An unsteady tree is a danger to both pets and people.
  • Keep your pets out of the Christmas tree water. If you choose to have a real tree, keep your pets from drinking the water underneath it. Tree sap that leaks into the water can make pets ill, and so can preservatives. To deter pets, Holidash suggests spraying the area with lemon-scented air freshener. You could also try covering the dish with plastic or foil.
  • Don’t trim the tree with anything edible. Jolly holly berries and cheerful strings of popcorn might look cute to you, but to your pet they’ll just look tasty. Edible décor will tempt pets to climb the tree, and if they swallow these decorations, they could choke or become ill.

Holiday Food

As a general rule, you shouldn’t feed your animals “people food.” You probably already avoid most non-pet friendly foods like chocolate and nuts, but did you know that bones are dangerous for animals too? As tempting as it might be to give your dog a bone, bones can splinter and cause damage to your dog’s digestive system. So if you’ve got bones leftover from a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas ham, throw them in the trash where your dog can’t get them.

Christmas Presents

I only have one nephew, and he happens to be a dog, so of course I spoil him silly at Christmastime. When picking out presents for your pets, it’s important to choose safe toys. Pay attention to breed recommendations so that you don’t buy something that your pet could tear apart and choke on. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for safety recommendations.


  • Banish tinsel from your home. Tinsel is extremely dangerous to pets. Most pets, especially cats, are attracted to shiny things, so tinsel is sure to be an object of interest. According to, tinsel causes intestinal obstruction if swallowed. This could be fatal, so avoid tinsel at all costs.
  • Don’t use flocking. Flocking, also known as fake snow, can be toxic for your pets, especially if a significant amount is swallowed.
  • Take care when lighting candles. My cat loves to walk around on the countertops when she thinks no one is looking. Chances are, your cat does too. If you’re going to light candles, keep them in an area where they will be closely supervised. You don’t want to risk your cat starting a fire or getting burned.

Holiday Plants

Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and pine needles are four common holiday plants that don’t belong in pet-friendly homes. For a complete guide on toxic plants, check out the ASPCA website; You should reference this before you buy any plant for your home, no matter what the season.

The holidays can be hazardous for any pet, but if you’re smart about your decorations, your pet won’t get hurt. What kinds of trouble has your curious pet gotten into during the holidays? Share your story in the comments section!


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