8 Unexpected Holiday Dangers to Pets and Wildlife

Once Thanksgiving is crossed off the calendar, it is time to deck the halls in anticipation of the holidays — but getting in the spirit of the season could unintentionally harm pets.

From Christmas trees to guests’ thoughtful gifts, these are some of the hidden dangers to watch out for when preparing your home for Santa’s arrival or cooking up some vegan Hanukkah treats:

1. Make sure the Christmas tree is secured

As endless YouTube videos have shown, cats are known for mercilessly attacking Christmas trees. If their base is not secured, the tree could be knocked over and harm a pet on its way down. Cat-proofing the tree is an excellent idea.

2. Watch out for the tree’s water supply

If there’s a bowl of water, most likely a pet will try to drink from it. While the Christmas tree water supply does smell very earthy, it’s anything but clean and natural.

Fertilizers from the tree could seep in to the water — and if the pet drinks, stomach issues can ensue.

3. Hostess gifts can be poisonous

Guests will often bring flowers and plants as a gift for welcoming them during the holidays, but the well-intended gesture could harm or even kill pets. According to the Humane Society of the United States, ivy, holly and mistletoe are just some of the seasonal plants to watch out for – so keep them away from four-legged friends!

4. Decorations may look tasty

It’s not really our style, but dogs might think a dangling holiday decoration looks awfully tasty. And once they chow down, they could easily choke. The same might happen if cats nibble on tinsel, which could cause a blockage in their intestines.

“Keep holiday decorations away from pets,” warns HSUS. “Tinsel, bows, ribbons and wrapping paper can be tempting chew toys for pets, but can damage their digestive systems. Remember to keep tree ornaments high enough that they’re out of your pet’s reach.”

5. Plastic ornaments are safer than glass

If pets are willing to chew on ornaments when they’re dangling from the tree, just imagine what they’ll do to tiny pieces of broken glass ornaments that have shattered onto the floor! If ingested, the shards of glass could cause internal bleeding and possibly even death.

Stepping on broken glass will cause unnecessary pain and leave a bloody mess to clean up. Plastic ornaments don’t pose that threat.

6. Wildlife doesn’t understand your outdoor decor

Animals like deer can quickly become tangled in string lights. Since the wiring is camouflaged in shrubbery, their antlers may get caught, leaving them unable to get free.

If pets chew on outdoor decorations, they could also get electrocuted. To ensure all animals are safe, wrap those lights very tightly around the branches.

7. Bows are cuter in movies

Putting a ribbon around a pet’s neck sounds cute, especially if they’re being given as a gift – hopefully not bought, however, and only gifted to someone who asked for an animal and is ready to take on the responsibility — but it could pose a serious choking hazard.

Costumes like these are also adorable, but HSUS suggests “keep[ing] a close eye on your pets” and not “leav[ing] them unattended” while wearing costumes, since they could have pieces that would accidentally choke the animal.

8. Watch out for the menorah

If celebrating in the Jewish tradition, a menorah should never be left unattended when pets are in the house. If they knock down a candle, a house fire could follow.

Birds are especially sensitive to air quality, so they should be kept away from any burning candles.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins7 days ago

Whenever I buy full length wall mirrors from the dollar store they fall off and shatter because the hook in the back wasn't secured or strong enough to hold them up.

Georgina Elizab McAlliste


Payton Godon
Payton Godon8 days ago

Cats are usually the more mischievous pets during the holidays. For those who have pet birds, watch for them wanting to fly into Christmas trees. They can be just as mischievous as well.

Shae Lee
Shae Lee9 days ago

Thank you.

Sonia M
Sonia M10 days ago

Good reminders,thanks for sharing

Leo C
Leo C10 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Linda Wallace
Linda Wallace11 days ago

Thank you. We get busy and we need reminders.

Elisabeth T
Elisabeth T11 days ago

Thanks for the good reminders

Andrea M
Aa M11 days ago

Thanks all good points. no reason for harming your pets just for a few decorations.

Lee Juslin
Lee Juslin11 days ago

We always anchor the tree to a ceiling beam. Also hang unbreakable ornaments at the bottom