Are Christmas Ornaments Dangerous for Pets?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. November 15, 2016
Are Christmas Ornaments Dangerous for Pets?

Who doesn't love decorating the home for Christmas to feel all the warmth of the most anticipated day of the year? In the Western world, many people get beautiful fir trees and buy stunning garlands and light strings to dress up the house.

However, if you have a pet things can get complicated. If your pet bites, plays or tries to catch the Christmas ornaments, you might need to rethink the holiday decoration. Are Christmas ornaments dangerous for pets?

Stay with us at AnimalWised and discover what kinds of ornaments can pose a danger and what measures you should take to prevent your pet from getting hurt.

You may also be interested in: Are Bats Dangerous to Humans or Pets?

Pet-proof Christmas decoration

Before we get into each of the possible dangerous Christmas ornaments for your pets, it is essential to discuss their location.

Out of all the Christmas decorations, the Christmas tree is the centerpiece. As Christmas trees tend to be highly decorated, with lots of baubles and ribbons, they are the biggest safety hazard for your pet.

We all like having a big Christmas tree, lush and loaded with ornaments, but if our pet is a puppy, or tends to bite, pounce on or chase objects, you will have no choice but to opt for a smaller Christmas tree that can be placed outside its reach. However, keep in mind that a pet might attempt to eat a small tree, and that it can fall over and crush your poor animal.

What is the best and safest place to put the Christmas tree if you have a pet? It depends on the animal's height and on whether it can climb or not. The tree must be placed somewhere higher than the pet, and it must be completely out of reach if the pet in question is a cat.

You must apply the same logic to Christmas wreaths and colorful light strings that you may use to decorate the outside or inside walls of your house, and any other hanging objects.

Here you can learn more about what to do if your dog eats the Christmas tree.

Wires, cables and Christmas lights

Many people decide to install Christmas lights in their garden, windows or around the Christmas tree, and the result is truly spectacular holiday décor. But have you ever thought about the consequences for your pet?

If our little friend is a dog that likes to bite anything new, a restless kitten that is attracted to all bright and shiny objects or a rodent that you let loose at home, you must always keep wires, cables and Christmas lights out of its reach.

At the time of the installation, it is important to keep the cables together and in order. Try tying them with a clasp, a string or a clip. If you let them hang loose your pet might use the cables as playthings and become entangled, even strangled.

The wires or cables should never be left on the floor, as your pet could bite them and get shocked by the electric current. Whenever you're not using them, especially if you're not at home, unplug the Christmas lights.

Are Christmas Ornaments Dangerous for Pets? - Wires, cables and Christmas lights

Christmas baubles

Cats feel attracted by the glittery and shiny Christmas baubles. In addition, dogs that usually play with balls easily can succumb to desire to take that round object and use it as a toy.

We recommend not using glass baubles at all, nor any made of other materials that many break or smash and cause serious injury to your pet. Consider homemade or artesanal baubles made with felt, crochet or string instead, and in any case keep them out of reach.

Nowadays there is a very wide array or possible ornaments for the Christmas tree besides the traditional baubles. Apply the same tips to those objects and don't buy any glass ones, as they are very dangerous for your pet.

Wreaths, ribbons and bright stars

As we discussed in the previous section, all kinds of bright or shiny Christmas ornaments capture the attention of cats. If those shiny ornaments are also hanging, your cat will inevitable see them are the best catch of the year.

Don't doubt for a second that your feline friend will try to pull down that beautiful golden wreath around your Christmas tree and even see that bright tree-topper star that crowns the tree as prey. In the best case, your cat won't succeed. In the worst but likely case, the tree will fall on your pet and it will be badly hurt.

While these kinds of ornaments are especially attractive for cats, dogs may also want to play with or even eat them, which makes them really dangerous. Eating a wreath or ribbon is very dangerous, as it can cause bowel obstruction or suffocation.

To prevent it, the most advisable measure is to keep the tree out of reach and to not use ribbons, bows, wreaths or tree toppers at all. If you do, however, make sure they're matte or opaque and in more subdued colors.

Centerpieces with candles

Although the Christmas tree is the most dangerous ornament for your pet, it is not the only one. You must also be very careful with the traditional table centerpieces with candles.

To prevent your pet from being burned, we recommend placing them out of reach and only lighting them when necessary, and always when there is a human present. Remember to blow them off whenever you leave the house and to have a first aid kit for pets ready.

Much like Christmas trees, holiday centerpieces are often made up of round, bright and eye-catching objects. To reduce the risk for your pet, we recommend you look for unique, different centerpieces without any candles or dangerous materials. You can make one yourself; for instance, what about cylindrical containers lined in fabric, felt or tightly wound ribbons?

Are Christmas Ornaments Dangerous for Pets? - Centerpieces with candles

Poinsettia: A toxic Christmas plant

In the list of plants toxic to dogs and cats we can find one of the traditional Christmas plants: Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima). In fact, this plant is particularly dangerous for pets.

Ingesting poinsettia can cause digestive disorders that can trigger diarrhea and vomiting, while the direct contact with the skin or the eyes of the animal may result in irritation, rash or itching.

Remember that ivy berries are toxic, and their foliage can cause dermatitis and rashes. Holly is even more dangerous, as its berries can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and they even have caffeine, which cats and dogs can't digest.

If you decide to decorate your home with this Christmas plant, you try to keep it as far away as possible from your pet, especially if your small companion tends to eat the plants in your garden or grass.

Here you can learn more about symptoms and first aid for poisoning in dogs, and here you can find the symptoms and first aid for poisoning in cats.

Are Christmas Ornaments Dangerous for Pets? - Poinsettia: A toxic Christmas plant

Home repellent to keep your pet away

If you have applied all our tips but your pet has still managed to reach the Christmas ornaments, you can make a homemade citrus-based repellent. You will need:

  • Sprayer
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Cinnamon oil (not essential, but suitable for consumption)

In a bowl, mix half a liter water with the juice of three lemons and add two or three drops of cinnamon oil, not more. Fill a sprayer with the homemade repellent and spray each of the Christmas ornaments with it.

Both dogs and cats have a highly developed sense of smell, and there are particular odors they specially dislike; one of them is this mixture's. If you want to make the citrus smell even stronger, you can add some orange juice.

Pay close attention and keep your pet from ingesting the repellent. If the mixture has too much cinnamon oil and your pet accidentally drinks it, it can cause a digestive disorder.

As you can see, most Christmas ornaments are dangerous for your pet. However, just by keeping in mind some basic safety tips you can ensure a happy and accident-less holiday. Merry Christmas!

If you want to read similar articles to Are Christmas Ornaments Dangerous for Pets?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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