Top Ten Holiday Decorations to Avoid

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: December 02, 2011

'Tis the Season

Twinkling lights, sparkly tinsel, brightly colored garland, and delicate ornaments – what’s not to love about holiday decorations? The dangers they can pose for your beloved pet, that’s what. While avoid may be too strong of a word, as we’re not suggesting you do away with all of these decorations completely, please be mindful of the sorts of decorations you use and their placement this holiday season.

Image: Randy Robertson / Flickr

#10 Christmas trees

Yes, this decoration is kind of a Christmas staple. However dog and cat owners need to be aware of some things if they’re going to have a tree and a pet. Some dogs tend to jump up a lot and may jump into the tree, knocking it over, breaking precious ornaments, and possibly injuring themselves. Cats have been known to climb into Christmas trees, causing the same effects. It is best to keep your pet out of the room with the tree, unless supervised.

Image: Petoo / Shutterstock

#9 Imitation snow

Also called flocking, imitation snow on a Christmas tree can be very hazardous to pets if ingested. And since Christmas tree branches just look like fun sticks for a cat or dog to chew on, it is very likely to be ingested if you use it at all. Stick to other forms of tree décor for the sake of your pet.

Image: Doug Waldron / Flickr

#8 Preservatives on your tree

Chemical preservatives are sometimes used on Christmas trees to keep them fresh longer. The problem with these chemicals though, is that they will leach down into the water bowl at the bottom of the tree. Making the water poisonous. Water that a pet will likely keep lapping up. It is best to not use these preservatives altogether, but if you must, use a tree skirt, towel, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or something to cover up the water bowl.

Image: Bill C / Flickr

#7 Edible ornaments

Of course you’re proud of your young child’s homemade macaroni art ornament. And yes, candy canes are extremely festive. But if you’re hanging these items all around your tree, you’re just asking for your pet to try and eat them. Too much sugar from the candy canes can cause a sugar rush, glue used on ornaments could be toxic, or the materials used may be poisonous or hazardous. All in all, it is best to place these ornaments on areas of the tree where your pet cannot reach.

Image: Mr. T in DC / Flickr

#6 Lit candles

This should be an obvious one, but just a reminder that lighting candles on or around a Christmas tree is extremely hazardous. Christmas trees are very flammable and a cat or dog can easily jostle the tree or knock over a candle.

Image: Bryan Rosengrant / Flickr

#5 Christmas lights

When wrapping lights around a Christmas tree, keep the strands away from the very bottom where a cat or dog can easily chew on the electrical cords as this will result in an electrical shock. In general, wherever you choose to place strands of little lights, make sure the end of the extension cord is tucked away so your pet cannot get to it.

Image: Anne Hornyak / Flickr

#4 Holly berries

According to the ASPCA, holly berries are considered potentially toxic if consumed in large amounts and they may result in gastrointestinal irritation and depression of the central nervous system.

Image: Justin Russell / Flickr

#3 Angel hair

Angel hair is finely spun fiberglass that was used in vintage decorations but has since been taken off the market due to health concerns. If you have any old decorations made from angel hair, it is best to refrain from using those. There are similar looking decorations on the market now made from PVC and those also cause health concerns.

Image: deovolenti / Flickr

#2 Delicate or treasured ornaments

Using delicate or treasured ornaments that hold a lot of sentimental value around pets may not be your best idea. Like we’ve stated before, it is very easy for a dog or cat to jump at the tree, jostle the tree, or knock the tree over. If you can’t stand the thought of a precious family ornament breaking, either put it somewhere a pet can’t get to or be very watchful of your pet around the Christmas tree.

Image: jenn / Flickr

#1 Tinsel

Tinsel is possibly the most dangerous holiday decoration for your pets. If your pet ingests even a few strands of tinsel – and pets do this more often than you might guess – they are highly likely to suffer the ill, and even deadly effects of an intestinal obstruction.

Image: Bob Brown / Flickr