Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Pet Expert: Helping Your Pets Avoid Holiday Hazards

The health and safety of your pets should be a main priority when preparing for the festive season. With the holidays fast approaching, it is always a good idea to review the festive items in your home for pet safety purposes.

While many simple Christmas decorations may seem harmless, they could be potentially dangerous to your pet, especially for cats and dogs. Consider these common hazards, and let’s all keep our pets safe this holiday season.

Breakable Christmas Decorations:

While they may look fantastic on your tree, decorative ornaments are easily mistaken for play toys, especially shiny glass balls. A curious pet can easily be injured by biting into one, or by stepping on shards from a broken decoration. Take care to thoroughly clean up these areas as broken decorations leave microscopic pieces on the floor that may get stuck in paws and feet alike.

Electrical Wires and Lighting:

Christmas lights add a touch of magic to the holiday season, both inside and outside of the home. Tree lights are the most common problem-causing decorations for pets, as kittens and puppies are often likely to gnaw on cords, which can cause electrical shock.

Toxic Plants:

Many pets are rushed to veterinary emergency clinics every holiday season due to ingesting toxic plants. Plants like poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, and lilies are among the most toxic for pets. Make arrangements to keep these types of plants out of reach of your pets, and also consider using safer festive flora as decorations this year.

Tinsel and Fake Snow:

While less popular than in days past, tinsel is still a common Christmas decoration. It can be very beautiful, and can also be extremely dangerous for pets – particularly cats. Cats especially like to eat tinsel, and doing so is potentially fatal as it can get stuck in the stomach and intestines. Fake snow can also be a potential hazard, as it is similar to chew-toy stuffing, making it very enticing for puppies. It is smart to stay away from all stringy decorations including tinsel, yarn, and thin ribbons whenever possible.


This delicious scented decoration may smell nice, but it is often mistaken for a treat. Cinnamon-scented pine cones are among the most common potpourri products this time of year. Symptoms from the consumption of potpourri-like products include stomach discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Fires and Candles:

Warm fireplaces and festive candles are a Christmas tradition in many households. It is believed that candles account for about half of all household fires in December and January. Keep all candles up high, out of the way of wagging tails and curious pets. Putting up a guard or screen near a hot fireplace will keep both pets and children at a safe distance.

It is such a wonderful time of year when we decorate our homes to get fully in the holiday spirit. Make sure you do it in a way that is both festive and safe for our beloved pets, by avoiding these potential holiday hazards.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit

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