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Unwrapping the Best Tips on How to Pet-Proof Your Holiday Decorations

The winter holidays are best spent with our loved ones, which, of course, includes our furry friends. However, the excitement that comes with jingles and eggnog can quickly turn into dread as Kitty approaches the Christmas tree with clear intent in her eyes.

So, if you’re lucky enough to share your pet-friendly apartment with a cuddly companion this holiday season, unwrap these quick steps to pet-proof your decorations and keep your four-legged friends from hurting ornaments — and themselves. If anything, it’s easier than trying to make them understand that Christmas baubles are not chew toys.

When it comes to Christmas trees, it’s the thought that counts

Christmas trees tend to take the hardest hits during the holiday season — literally. Something about this new, bulky and colorful addition to their living space fascinates pets, cats in particular. Fortunately, there are a few ways to help your tree see another winter.

First, don’t place it in the center of the room. The tree is attractive enough to pets as it is without it being an easy trajectory to propel themselves into. Also, be sure to weigh down the base and anchor your tree by using a sturdy stand. Or, go the extra mile and secure it to the ceiling or adjacent walls. If possible, keep it in a room without easy access.

Choose an artificial tree. As beautiful as they are and as great as they smell, natural Christmas trees have sharp needles that your pet could ingest or get stuck in their paws. Nonetheless, if you do have a natural tree, be on the lookout for any loose needles and make sure the dog doesn’t drink the tree water.

Opt for something smaller. The bigger the tree, the more attractive it is to our curious pets. You’ve probably heard stories about entire festive displays that were ruined because the temptation was just too much, especially for our feline friends. Conversely, a smaller tree means pets will spend less time inspecting it, and it will also cause less damage in the event that it falls victim to a sneak attack.

The more the merrier, except for ornaments

Wreaths, ribbons, fairy lights, tinsel and anything that glitters are what holidays are made of. But, as lovely as it is to turn your home into a winter wonderland this time of year, you may need to cut down on the ornaments this year. Small sacrifices like these can make a world of difference to your pet’s safety. Start by placing decorations higher up and as far out of reach as possible (although we understand this might not always work for cat parents).

Along the same lines, opt for less-fragile ornaments that won’t break easily upon impact. While glass and crystal decorations are beautiful, they’ll shatter into a million pieces when your pet knocks them down. Additionally, keep in mind that, while placing them on higher branches puts them out of reach, it still won’t save them if the tree falls. Alternative materials like plush or yarn are safer, but they’re also more tempting and easily damaged because they’re chewable. In this case, plastic might be the safest way to go.

Finally, anything strongly scented or edible is most attractive to our furry friends. So, if you plan to display these types of decorations, make sure to supervise them at all times.

‘Tis the season to be safe

Keeping ornaments safe from pets is important, but it’s even more essential to protect your pets from the ornaments.

  • If ingested, tinsel can lead to choking or health issues that require surgical intervention. So, select textile ribbons instead or make sure to place any tinsel as far out of reach as possible.
  • Metal or plastic hooks are easily ingested, as well, so it’s best to secure tree ornaments with good old handmade string knots.
  • Flickering lights are common this time of year, so check any wires and tuck away cables that might pose a risk.
  • Flames inside the house are never a good idea, but candles are abundant during this time. For everyone’s safety, try battery-operated candles, instead.

Winter holidays come but once a year, so make this season a merry and safe one!

Alexandra Ciuntu
Alexandra Ciuntu
Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RentCafe. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she's covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance to interior design tips. Very familiar with the renter lifestyle herself, Alexandra enjoys researching and writing about renter demographic shifts and residential real estate market trends as much as she loves writing about how to get along with roommates. You can connect with Alexandra via email. Alexandra’s work includes collaborations with financial and business publications. Her articles have been featured in several national and international online publications, including the New York Times, Barrons, Inman, Forbes, Architectural Digest, Marketwatch, Bisnow, and Curbed. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Japanese and English and an M.A. in Journalism and Cultural Studies.

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