The holidays are an exciting time for all members of the family, and that includes any family pets that may live under your roof as well.

As fun and entertaining as the month of December may be, there are a number of precautions you need to take in order to provide a safe home for your four-legged friends.

Christmas Trees, Ornaments, and Tinsel

A majority of the households in the U.S. use artificial trees during their holiday season. These trees are safer, more economical, and frankly, a whole lot cleaner! But those of you out there that still enjoy that clean pine scent of a freshly cut evergreen permeating your home, you must be extra careful if you share your home with pets. It is a good idea to make sure you tie the tree skirt tightly around the base of the tree, OVER the pan that the water sits in. Also, do not add anything additional to the water in an attempt to help the tree live longer. Those products may be harmful to your pets, and they may find a way to get to the water, no matter how hard you try to keep them out of it.

It is best to keep all dangerous ornaments either on the top portion of the tree or not on the tree at all. Glass and thin metal ornaments can break very easily if they hit the ground hard enough, causing a shattered mess that can cause all sorts of injuries to your pet. Also, some animals (mainly dogs) have been known to eat ornaments. So, these dangerous ornaments are best kept far from Fluffy and Fido’s reach (or mouth). Another good tip is instead of using metal ornament hooks, tie ribbons to the ornaments in order to hang them from the tree branches. In case those ornaments do fall, you’ll have one less possible hazard on your hands. Another decoration to keep out of the house all together is tinsel. Some older tinsel contains lead, which is a whole other topic of pet poisoning. Use your best judgment, and find a safer alternative.

Electrical Cords

This time of the year, most households are plugging in more electrical products in their home and the electrical cords to these products can be quite attractive to an animal. Pets have a tendency to chew on cords, which can cause electric shock and even death, but there are a few solutions to this problem. You can wrap the cords in electrical or duct tape, but remember to check the condition of the cords on a regular basis for any wear and tear an animal may cause in the meantime.

Another solution is to tuck the cords between the carpet and the baseboard if possible. You may also tape the cords to the wall or the floor, to keep the pets from damaging them and injuring themselves. Yet, the most attractive resolution I have found is to purchase the long, plastic bathroom shower rod covers, the ones you can buy in various colors in order to compliment your bathroom décor. The advantage of this is that you can encase all of the cords inside the long tubing and even pick the color that matches your room the best. The tubing is also flexible enough that you can cut it to any length you might need. This tubing can be found in the bathroom section of most hardware stores.


Beautiful gift wrap and ribbons that we use to make our gifts oh-so-pretty can also be thought of as “pretty” by our pets. Animals love to chew on ribbon, and in turn will end up swallowing it. This can cause a severe obstruction in the intestines and lead to further injury, and possibly death. If you see a string or ribbon hanging out of the mouth (or even the OTHER end) do NOT try to pull it out! Take your pet to the nearest animal hospital; surgery may be needed to save your pets life.


Many household plants can be dangerous for your pets, including the ever popular Poinsettias and Lilies. It is best to not even bring these hazardous plants into your home in first place, but if you do love the look of these beautiful flowers, think about purchasing artificial ones instead. And even better, it’s a more economical purchase anyhow, as you can use them year after year after year. A list of toxic plants and flowers can be found on the Humane Society of America’s website.


The flicker or smell of a candle can really spark the interest of a pet. Keep all candles far out of the reach of pets. Better yet, purchase a candle warmer instead. This eliminates the fire, but allows the aroma of the candle to still permeate the room. Yet, you must still keep the warmer out of reach; the melted wax can cause severe burns if tipped over, or if pets decide to take a sniff or a taste.

Stress of Parties

Guests and party-goers can really stress out a pet. So if you have a get-together or party planned at your home, make sure you set up a “Safe Room” for your pet. This room should contain everything your pet will need to feel comfortable and relaxed. It is best to make this room as far away from the noise as possible, and you may even want to play some music or leave the TV on in order to drown out the noise of the party. The radio and TV are things an animal is more familiar with and goes along with their normal, daily routine. Make sure you provide them plenty of food, water, and toys to keep them occupied.

If you have cat, make sure there is access to a litter box, or if you have a dog make sure you take time out from your party to take the dog outside to go potty. Choosing to allow your pet to mingle with the guests is risky. There are the possibilities of getting let outside on accident or your pet getting a hold of foods or drinks that he shouldn’t have, including chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to dogs. But, by giving them a cozy room of their own is a lot better for you and the pet, not to mention a lot safer too.

Please visit the websites of the ASPCA and the HSUS for more information on pet safety during the holidays.

Jen is a loving wife and mommy to one little boy and three kitties. She blogs at Mommy Instincts.