Deck the halls and trim the trees, but remember to take the right precautions to protect your pet. It is possible to transform your living space into one that is both elegantly festive and dog-friendly.
Here are a few quick tips from interior designer Heather Higgins, ASID, CID, of Higgins Design Studio, LLC.
Skip the Boughs of Holly
Live mistletoe and holly are beautiful. However, they are also highly poisonous if ingested. Poinsettias, while not poisonous, can cause stomach upsets. Silk plants are a safer choice when incorporating these particular plant species into your holiday decorations.
Let There Be Light—Safely
Candles, strategically placed throughout your home, add a warm, festive sparkle. However, in unprotected locations, a wagging tail can knock them over, spilling hot wax or possibly starting a fire. To avoid these issues, switch to flameless battery-operated candles instead. If you want to use real candles for Hanukkah, place your menorah up high on a sturdy piece of furniture.
Stabilize the Tree
For many of us, a well-chosen and thoughtfully decorated Christmas tree is the festive centerpiece of our home during the holidays. However, because they can also topple easily with four-legged kids running around, make sure to attach yours to the wall or ceiling using thin, barely visible guide-wires, which are available at home improvement stores. If your dog is a puppy, you may want to consider a smaller tree, displayed on a table or counter. These work particularly well in small living spaces.
And be considerate, do not put up a tree in front of your dog’s favorite place to window-watch.
Choose Ornaments Wisely
When decorating the tree, keep breakable ornaments high and out of reach. If you have your heart set on using glass ornaments, wire them to the tree branch to keep them from falling, shattering, and causing cuts. Avoid very small decorations and ones made of food, like strings of popcorn, candy, or nuts. These are enticing for dogs to chew and can pose a choking hazard. Also, keep track of the hooks you use for hanging tree ornaments. Swallowing one of these sharp metal hooks can cause great harm to your dog.
Hang the Stockings by the Chimney With Care
Heavy metal stocking holders look great. However, if a dog tugs at a stocking and the holder falls, it can injure them. A safer choice is an unobtrusive plastic hook that attaches with removable tape. Alternatively, consider hanging them from bedroom doorknobs or placing them under the tree in the morning. Do not tempt dogs by filling the stockings with food items before Christmas morning.
Dinner is Served
Long tablecloths or runners can accidentally get yanked, causing dishes, tableware, and hot food to come tumbling down. Using shorter cloths and runners or placemats that do not hang over the edge of a table is a safer alternative.
Taking a few minutes to create a dog-friendly living space during the holiday season is worth the time and effort. You and your guests will be able to sit back, relax, and fully enjoy the festivities without having to anticipate what possible dog-related drama may occur!
Heather Higgins is a New York City–based interior designer, specializing in elegant pet-friendly living spaces.