Between the tinsel and ornaments, the Christmas cookies and eggnog, and the revolving door of guests stopping by to celebrate, it’s no surprise that the holidays can be a dangerous time for pets.

As you deck the halls, decorate the tree, light the menorah, or however else you enjoy the season, keep these tips in mind to ensure your furry friends have a safe and happy pawliday.

Christmas trees

It’s difficult for a cat to resist the temptation of a decorated tree. There are branches to climb, strings of lights to chew on and dangling ornaments to bat — not to mention the tree stand full of stagnant water to sample. And if you’re not careful, you could end up with a toppled tree, broken ornaments and one sick kitty.

To keep your tree upright and your feline friend safe and healthy, try the following:

Secure that tree. Place your tree in a corner to limit access and anchor it to the wall. Fishing line often does the trick.

If you can’t keep your cat from attempting to climb the tree, place aluminum foil or upside-down plastic rug protectors around the base of the tree to make the area unappealing.

Decorate with care. Don’t hang breakable ornaments on the tree’s lower branches. In fact, you may want to keep all your ornaments out of paw’s reach.

Don’t let cords dangle. Keep electrical cords from tempting a playful kitty by taping them to the wall, and always unplug lights when you’re not home.

Keep the tree stand off limits. If your cat or dog seems interested in drinking from the new pine-scented water bowl, put a stop to it. The water could contain fertilizer or harmful bacteria that can cause nausea or diarrhea should your pet drink it. Line the area with aluminum foil or upside-down plastic rug protectors to discourage them, or purchase a deterrent spray from your pet store and spray the tree’s lower branches.

cat with broken Christmas ornamentIf you want to keep your ornaments in one piece, hang them on higher branches. (Photo: Tibanna79/Shutterstock)

Holiday decorations

From candles to mistletoe, the holidays bring out all kinds of decorations that curious cats and dogs may want to investigate or even sample. However, just because you have pets doesn’t mean you can’t decorate for the season.

Pick your plants carefully. Many holiday favorites can be dangerous to pets. For example, mistletoe is highly poisonous and poinsettia can cause irritation and illness, so opt for artificial plants or pet-safe flowers.

Don’t leave lighted candles unattended. Those flickering flames may attract a curious pet, which could lead to burns or even a house fire. Keep candles in secure holders and make sure they’re on stable surfaces. If you leave the room, put out the candles.

Skip the tinsel. It may be festive, but it’s also fun for kitties to bat around and nibble on — and dogs may want to give it a chew as well. If your pet ingests tinsel, it could lead to an obstructed digestive tract, which may require surgery.

Watch those wires. If any of your decorations have an electrical cord, make sure the cords are out of reach or even taped to the wall so they don’t dangle and attract a playful pet.

dog stealing Christmas foodMake sure those tasty holiday treats are kept out of your pet's reach. (Photo: dezi/Shutterstock)

Party safely

Holiday get-togethers may be fun for you, but they’re often frightening to pets because of all the foot traffic and new sounds. They’re also an invitation for your pets to sample some of the holiday goodies, which can lead to a seriously sick animal, so make sure you’re ready to host a pet-friendly gathering.

Provide a safe space. Before the party starts, give your pet a quiet space to spend the hours in, complete with food, water, a bed and a litter box for the cat. With the front door opening and closing and all those new people, it’s easy for a pet to become spooked and hide — or even dart out the door.

Keep food and drinks out of reach. Don’t leave out unattended plates of food, and always secure garbage can lids. Also, don’t feed your pet human foods that are unsafe, especially bones, chocolates or spicy or fatty foods.

Tell your guests not to feed your pet. If your pet joins the party, make sure your guests know not to indulge those hungry meows or pitiful puppy dog eyes.

Prepare for the new year. It’s a good idea to keep your pet in a separate room or crate during New Year’s festivities as well, as fireworks and loud poppers can often be frightening.

Also, it’s smart to either skip the confetti and streamers or to clean up thoroughly before letting your pet out — you don’t want them to gobble up all that paper and glitter and become ill.

Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

How to keep your pet safe during the holidays
With trees to climb and treats to sample, the holidays can be dangerous for pets, but there are simple steps you can take to keep your 4-legged friend safe.