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Keeping the Holidays Festive for all Members of the Family

The holidays should be the brightest, most joyous days of the year for all of the members of your family.  What if the needs of your furry family members or youngsters are different than the others? What if something that makes one merry makes another ill or puts him or her at risk?  This is very much the case for pets and children that might be around your home during the holiday season. Since everyone deserves the right to be safe and secure in your home, forethought and planning are essential.  Consider the following child and pet proofing tips for the holiday season as a safety check for an enjoyable, carefree celebration as this year draws to a close.

Child and Pet Proofing Tips for the Holiday Season

Protect from Poisonous Plants

Ironically, some of the plants most associated with holiday cheer and goodwill actually have hidden toxic properties. Watch out for these festive, yet foreboding, plants:

Holly stems or wreaths

While beautiful, the sharp spines of holly stems can cause serious damage to a pet’s mouth. The chemicals within the leaves are toxic, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Keep any sprigs of holly high above a pet or child’s reach.


Though lilies appear primarily at Easter time, many homes bring them back during the Christmas season because of their beauty and religious significance. However, ingesting the stems or leaves of a lily can lead to kidney damage or in extreme cases, kidney failure. This can be devastating to a pet or young child, and can even lead to death. Seek medical care immediately if anyone in the household ingests part of a lily plant.


Mistletoe symbolizes the need to get up close and exchange a holiday kiss. On the other hand, no pet or child should get too close to mistletoe. If ingested, this plant can also cause vomiting, lethargy, and fatigue, but the real danger is dehydration. If your pet or child gets into mistleto and won’t drink an ample amount of water, seek medical help.


Poinsettias are distinctive with their deep hues of white and red. Despite their beauty, the thick sap of poinsettias is toxic. Reactions would include lack of appetite, vomiting or even depression. If ingested, restrict food and water for a couple of hours to watch for symptoms. If they persist more than a couple of hours, consult your veterinarian. 

Deck the Halls With Caution

Holidays would not be complete without the alluring lights and decorations of the season. Despite their charm, they are filled with hidden dangers for pets and young children.  Be wary of the following common decorative items, and keep them away from those that are vulnerable. In fact, consider foregoing some altogether if they cannot be well monitored:

Electric wires

Bundles of electric wire usually appear throughout the home during the holiday season. This can peak the curiosity of many animals and children. Exploration through chewing or handling inappropriately can lead to burns, electric shocks, or even fires. Unplug electric cords when not in use, and use cord protectors as well as pet-deterrent sprays, which are found at local pet stores. 

Glass decorations or ornaments

Glass decorations are beautiful and classic by nature. Their glistening effects as they catch the light can draw the attention of your furry family members and the little hands and mouths of small children. Of course, glass decorations can be easily broken. Shards of glass are very dangerous to the skin, eyes and digestive systems of those that are most vulnerable.  Keep glass decorations high above reach, or consider putting them away or replacing them with wooden or plastic decorations when entertaining around pets or children.  

Holiday trees

Be sure that any tree that is used to commemorate the season is anchored firmly.  Animals and children are naturally curious, and many will reach for the highest branches or even attempt to climb a tree. A toppled tree could cause cuts and bruises from broken decorations, or even worse if one is caught underneath its weight. Try to secure trees and large decorations with soft cords or chains against a firm wall.


Be sure that stockings are placed out of reach from curious pets and children, especially when they are filled with treats of chocolate, perfumed lotions, glassware, and other dangerous items.


Strands of tinsel are attractive when woven around a tree, but can  wreak havoc on sensitive digestive systems. Consider eliminating tinsel altogether, including sharp ribbons and other long strands that could cause serious damage if swallowed.

Contact us with Questions about Child and Pet Proofing Tips for the Holiday Season

With special forethought and attention to detail, your holidays can truly be rewarding and hazard free. Be sure to monitor the status of all of your decorations throughout the season.  Pets and young children deserve special protection at this time of year. 

Remember to contact us at Longview Animal Hospital for information, guidance, and medical attention for your pets during the holidays. Our expert, compassionate team can put your mind at ease during this hectic, festive season.