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How to Protect Your Christmas Décor From Nosy Pets

Pet-proof your home this holiday season with our tips on pet-friendly Christmas trees and other holiday decorations.

What's Inside

Whenever your cat or dog plays with your Christmas décor, there's a good chance it will end up ruined before Christmas day even arrives. What's worse is that a mangled display can also hurt your pets. Broken ornaments, glass shards, and exposed wires can cause serious injury to the family pet. There are also some decorations that can be fatal when ingested.

Here is a comprehensive guide that will help you pet-proof your Christmas decorations and also keep your furry friends safe during the wonderful holiday season.

Choosing the Right Christmas Tree and Holiday Decorations

Pet-proofing your home starts with buying the right tree and the safest ornaments. Here are some things pet owners should keep in mind when they go out to purchase their holiday pieces:

1. Consider an Artificial Christmas Tree

Most real Christmas trees have sharp needles that can scratch and puncture your pet's skin. Natural pine needles are also mildly toxic to animals; they can be dangerous if your dog or cat gobbles them up. Felines also tend to think the tree trunk is a natural scratching post. These pets are often tempted to climb the whole tree when they feel playful, which not only damages the tree and ornaments, but also increases the chance that your whole holiday setup will topple over unexpectedly.

2. Choose a Traditional-Looking Tree

When selecting an artificial tree, avoid the glittery and sparkly kind. These trees are dazzling to look at, but they can also spark extra curiosity in your pets. Tinsel, while a fun addition to any tree, is often fatal when ingested by pets; a simple green Christmas tree will do.

3. Invest in a Medium-Sized Tree

Medium-sized trees approximately 5 feet tall are considerably safer than those that tower at 7 feet or beyond. The taller the tree is, the greater the chances it has of getting knocked over by frisky pets.

4. Avoid Using Tabletop Trees

Dogs can easily snatch tabletop trees and decorations and turn them into a chew toy. A dog proof Christmas tree should be about 5 feet tall.

5. Keep Your Ornaments Simple

Sparkly ornaments that dangle from your tree can quickly catch unwanted pet attention. Avoid using anything overly shiny or glowing, and refrain from using glass ornaments when possible. Should the glass ornaments accidentally drop, your pets could end up stepping on or accidentally ingesting small glass shards, causing serious injury or harm.

Decorating Tip

Here are a few easy, pet-proof ornament alternatives for your tree:

  • Simple twig or paper decorations dyed with food coloring are inexpensive and safe ornaments.

  • Shatterproof Christmas ornaments, such as Balsam Hill's beautiful bronze bells, can last for years and won't be damaged by nosy pets knocking them off the tree.

  • Silk Christmas ornaments are a great alternative to glass and rarely get damaged when played with by curious pets

6. Stay Away From Candles

Unattended lit candles should be avoided due to the increased fire risk caused by the accidental swipe of a pet's paw or tail. If you still desire the warm glow a candle offers, consider purchasing flameless candles and artificially lit candles. They provide the same gentle luminescence without posing a fire hazard.

7. Avoid Using Food As Decorations

Adorning your tree with food, such as candy canes, popcorn, and gumdrops, should be avoided. Pets could start nibbling away on your decorations and accidentally gnaw on the other inedible ornaments.

8. Choose Natural Plants Carefully

Real plants can provide an authenticity to holiday decorating, but certain festive foliage should always be avoided when pets are present. Make sure to avoid these kinds of plants when planning your holiday decor:

  • Mistletoe - Ingesting mistletoe can cause a dangerous drop in your pet's blood pressure that often proves fatal.
  • Holly Berries and Ivy - These festive plants can cause diarrhea and convulsions.
  • Poinsettia - This can cause bouts of nausea and vomiting in cats and dogs.
  • Jerusalem cherry - These cause painful intestinal problems.
  • Lilies and daffodils - These can cause convulsions and are fatal when ingested in large amounts.

For a fresh holiday display that won't put your pets at risk, take your pick among these safe yet gorgeous selections:

  • Red Roses
  • White Orchids
  • Christmas Cacti

Protecting and Securing Your Christmas Tree From Playful Pets

Small adjustments are all you need to keep your cats and dogs safe this holiday season. Here's a list of tips to use when putting up your Christmas décor:

1. Take Your Pets Out of the Room When Decorating

Make sure your pets are out of sight while installing holiday decorations. Pets may think you're playing a game with the decorations when moving them around, which could encourage them to swat or pick at them later.

2. Select the Right Location for Your Trees and Décor

Choose a location that is not cramped or beside any other fixture. This prevents cats from using your furniture as a jump-off point to get to your tree. Never place wreaths, swags, or other décor that can easily be swiped off in the middle of the coffee table. The best place for these items is hanging high on a wall or door.

You can also use mantel swags instead of garlands to decorate your mantel, since these don't hang off the edges of the mantel.

3. Keep Your Tree Stable

Make sure to use a strong and stable base for your tree. This significantly lowers the chances of it toppling over if brushed by a nosy pet. It's also a good idea to anchor your tree against a wall, if possible.

4. Wrap Tin Foil Around the Trunk of Your Tree

Cats and dogs are peeved whenever they brush against tin foil. Wrapping foil around your tree is an effective way to dissuade your pets from gnawing on or playing with the trunk.

5. Make Your Tree's Water Container Inaccessible

Don't allow pets to drink from your tree's water container. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria that can harm pets if ingested. Use a receptacle that can be covered. If you can't locate a proper cover, simply hide the basin underneath the tree skirt.

6. Regularly Check Your Christmas Lights

Check your Christmas lights for any loose bulbs or exposed wires prior to decorating. Ensuring that bulbs are securely fastened and wires properly covered will reduce the risk of accidental ingestion or electrocution.

7. Use a Short Extension Cord

Pets love to play with long and tangled electrical wires, so opt to use a short extension cord with little slack when assembling your Christmas décor. Another smart tip is to tape wires down to the floor or against the wall to prevent pets from playing with loose and moveable sections. If possible, you should also hide all cord ends and sockets from your pets.

8. Get an Automatic Shut-Off Extension

Consider using electrical cords that automatically shut off once they are damaged. This feature will help keep your pets safe from electrocution, should they start playing with and exposing live wires.

9. Turn Off the Power When You Leave the House

Don't forget to turn off the power and close off your holiday-decorated rooms when you leave your home or go to bed. This guarantees your trees and ornaments will stay safe even when you're not around.

Protecting and Securing Your Christmas Ornaments From Playful Pets

1. Keep Your Expensive Ornaments Towards the Top of the Tree

Hang expensive and precious adornments in the upper two-thirds section of the tree. Use the lower one-third section for shatter-proof pieces or for those pieces you can easily dispose of and replace, should an accident happen.

2. Secure Your Ornaments

Make sure your ornaments are attached securely to the tree branches. Form the metal hook of your ornament into a complete circle so that the ring clasps the tips of the branches.

3. Think Twice Before Flocking Your Tree

Homemade flock often requires homeowners to use materials that can be harmful to animals if ingested. If you want the look of snow that comes with a flocked tree without putting your pets at risk, try decorating with cotton balls, fleece, or desiccated coconut.

Keeping Pets Away From Your Christmas Tree and Ornaments

Along with the preparations made to secure your décor from pets, there are also suggestions for altering your pet's behavior around the holiday season. Try these tips below to help encourage pets to stay away from the Christmas tree and other festive displays.

1. Spritz Your Pets with Water

Every time you see your pet come near your tree or decorations, use a water bottle to spritz them lightly with clean water. They will eventually associate this punishment with the tree and keep their distance from your holiday fixtures.

2. Use Bitter Apple Spray

Another technique to keep your pets away from your decorations is to spray the branches and trunk with a bitter apple solution. This safe and non-toxic chemical produces a smell that offends pets but is odorless to humans.

3. Keep a Bottle of Citrus Spray Handy

A cheaper and equally effective alternative to the bitter apple spray is a citrus spray. This will keep your pets at bay and leave your Christmas décor smelling fresh. If you don't have citrus spray, you can also hide orange peel underneath the tree.

Having pet-friendly holiday decor requires a few small, but simple changes. By following our in-depth guide, you can have a wonderful holiday display that will be safe for everyone in your household to enjoy.