8 Decorations That Can Harm Your Pet

One of the greatest joys of Christmas, other than the gift-giving of course, is the time spent decking the halls with hollies, mistletoe, lights and other sparkly decorations.

For pet owners, the holiday season is also a time to take some extra precautions to keep your furry friends safe. Many of those decorations can be harmful if your pet gets ahold of them.


While this pretty plant might help you get lucky this holiday season, you certainly don’t want your dog or cats’ mouths anywhere near it. While seemingly harmless, it actually contains toxins that can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, cardiovascular collapse and gastrointestinal disorders in small animals. If you’re going to hang it, make sure it’s placed securely in a spot that’s too high for an animal to reach.


Candles made of wax aren’t typically toxic for your pet, but if ingested, it can lead to a block in the intestines, which could cause a trip to the emergency room. The real danger lies in lighting them. Your dog or cat might be attracted to the flame and, upon investigation, could either burn herself or knock over the candle causing a fire to spread throughout the home. Always keep lit candles in high areas where your pet can’t easily reach it, or only light them in rooms you yourself will be in to monitor their behavior.

Christmas Lights

Whether outside or in, you should also take special care to protect the Christmas lights strung throughout your property. Biting into the wires creates a huge risk of electrocution and fire, not to mention the possibility of choking on the wires themselves or the glass from bulbs. The tree is one of the biggest dangers, since we all know cats seem to have a predilection for playing in them.


Bulbs, bows and other cute ornaments all pose a health risk for your pets. Glass globes can be bitten into and broken in your pet’s mouth, causing serious injury and bleeding, while stringy items could be swallowed and get lodged in your dog or cat’s throat or intestines. Never leave your loved ones around the tree. In fact, when you’re away at work or running errands, it’s a good idea to set up a perimeter or lock your pets in another room until you return.



Artificial Snow

Artificial snow, whether on your tree or the window, might stand out as an enticing treat for a furry little fella looking for a bite. Many of these artificial flakes contain chemicals that could be harmful to your pet if ingested. However, there are some on the market that are completely safe for licking, so make sure you check the label before you hit the register and you’ll be fine.

Holly Berries

The American version of the holly berry, which is the one you’ll typically find available here, isn’t a huge threat in small doses. When your pet swallows handfuls of them is when they become a problem. The leaves and berries contain toxins that lead to diarrhea and vomiting, as well as the risk for depression. As with other decorations, keep them out of reach to avoid problems.

Edible Decorations

It’s easy to string together a line of popcorn to throw on the tree without giving it a second thought, but consider how enticing that might be to your pet. How many dogs can pass up the sight of popcorn? While the treat itself might not do any harm, the string it’s attached to will cause your pup to choke or can become wrapped around internal organs. If it’s edible, it’s probably not a good idea to put it within a pet’s reach.


Tinsel is something of a triple threat: it’s tiny, shiny and hangs there just begging your pet to play with it. Dogs, but especially cats, are attracted to shiny objects and tinsel sparkles at the first sign of light, easily drawing your pets’ attention. Once ingested it becomes extremely dangerous, lodging itself in and blocking your pet’s intestines. When this happens, the only solution is immediate and costly surgery.

There are numerous hazards associated with the holiday season that might seem harmless at first, so it’s important to assess the risks to your furry friends before hanging anything on your wall. Before placing any plants, wires, ornaments or treats around your home, make sure you check labels and decorate in areas your pet doesn’t frequent. Better yet, check with your vet if you’re unsure of a decoration’s potential for harm.

Meet the Author: Ben Kerns

Ben Kerns is a freelance writer, photographer and outdoor adventurer based out of San Diego. When he’s not busy working you can find him hopping across the world looking for new places to climb big rocks. He’s also fanatically obsessed with funding his outdoor obsessions for as little money as possible. This stuff gets expensive.

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