As you put up all those festive decorations for the holidays, the thing to keep in mind is that those shiny, pretty things are very inviting to your furry friends as well. Your tree is an open invitation for all sorts of feline and canine antics.

So how can you protect both your ornaments and your pets at the same time? Here's a few tips that may help.

  • Steer clear of edible ornaments, like festive dog treats, or decorating with small toys. These can include things like catnip-filled mice or bright crinkly balls. Few pets can resist the urge to check them out, and then damage the tree and perhaps get hurt as well. Also make sure catnip-infused treats are not left unattended.
  • You can deter your cats from being curious about the tree by sprinkling the tree skirt and lower branches with ordinary household ground white pepper or spraying them with a nontoxic taste deterrent.
  • Poinsettias are not safe for pets, as they have a white, milky sap in their leaves is toxic. Instead you might want to consider using silk plants, or sprinkling pepper on the leaves as a deterrent.
  • Of course, candles are a part of the season. Since cats can get on virtually any surface and possibly know them over, consider using flameless candles. That way you get the ambiance without the potential for disaster.
  • Many pets love chewing on cables, or at least checking out new cables they haven''t investigated yet. Do you best to hide cables, or use cable covers infused with citronella to deter chewing.
  • Keep track of pest during entertaining. Assign a responsible family member to be the designated pet watcher. Regular supervision is necessary to ensure pets do not get outside or steal food when no one is looking.
  • The remains of a holiday meal, such as bones, corncobs, and plastic utensils, can harm your pets if they ingest them. Many holiday foods, such as onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, and that box of chocolates your friend brought as a hostess gift, are also toxic to pets.
  • Keep alcohol out of reach. Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. Deliberately getting a pet drunk is considered animal cruelty and is punishable by law.
  • Despite the term “party animal,” most dogs and cats do not enjoy raucous gatherings. From their standpoint, it’s a stressful invasion of their territory. An anxious pet may even try to escape through an open, unattended door. If you entertain frequently during the festive season, consider giving your pets their own party by sequestering them in a quiet room and providing lots of distraction toys and treats. You will have a better time knowing they are safe, too!

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