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Beagle wearing a Santa hat laying down at Christmastime yawning.
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Deck the halls and trim the trees, but remember to take the right precautions to make sure your decorations are safe for your dog. Don’t worry — it’s still possible to transform your living space into one that is both elegantly festive and dog-friendly. Interior designer Heather Higgins, ASID, CID, of Higgins Design Studio, LLC., has some tips to make your space feel like you’re home for the holidays.

Skip the Boughs of Holly

Live mistletoe and holly are beautiful. However, these plants are highly poisonous to dogs if ingested. Poinsettias, while not poisonous, can upset your dog’s stomach. They’re a staple for many homes around the holidays, but fear not if you still want to decorate with them. Alternatively, silk faux-plants are a safer choice when incorporating these particular plant species into your holiday decorations. And the best part is, they can be reused year after year, saving you money.

Labrador retriever laying down at home with a Christmas poinsettia in the background.
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Let There Be Light—Safely

Candles throughout your home, add a warm, festive sparkle. However, in unprotected locations or within your dog’s reach, a wagging tail can knock them over. Make sure to keep in mind fire-safety tips to protect your dog year-round, but especially during the holidays when you’re adding extra light. You don’t want your dog accidentally spilling hot wax or possibly starting a fire. To avoid these issues, you can switch to flameless battery-operated candles instead. If you want to use real candles for Hanukkah, opt to place your menorah up high on a sturdy piece of furniture.

Stabilize the Tree

For those who celebrate Christmas, a well-chosen and thoughtfully decorated Christmas tree is the festive centerpiece of your home during the holidays. Aside from keeping your ornaments safe, trees can often topple over if your dog or even your children knock into it too hard.

To prevent this, try attaching your tree to the wall or ceiling using thin, barely-visible guide wires for trees. If you have a puppy, you may even want to consider a small Christmas tree, displayed on a table of counter out of their reach. These also work as great substitutions in smaller living spaces.

And if your dog has a window they always look out of, try to put the tree somewhere else. Putting the tree in front of where your dog likes to look out the window will cause stress for them, and will likely cause them to knock into it more than they otherwise might.

Dachshund head portrait at home during Christmas.
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Choose Tree Ornaments Wisely

In addition to tree safety, place your Christmas tree ornaments with care. Try to position breakable ornaments higher up on the tree so that your dog won’t brush them to the ground with their tail when they walk by. If you have sentimental ornaments or glass ornaments that you’d really like to put up, use wire to secure them to the tree branch to keep them from falling and shattering.

Avoid very small ornaments that could provide a choking hazard if your dog got ahold of them. Staying away from ornaments made of food, like strings of popcorn, candy, or nuts is also a good idea. These can be tempting for dogs to chew on and can pose a choking hazard.

Keep track of the hooks you use for hanging tree ornaments. Look around the bottom of the tree frequently as well in case any have fallen off. If your dog chews on or swallows one of these metal ornament hooks, it can cause them great harm.

Hang Decorations With Care

What about other hanging decorations like stockings? Heavy metal stocking holders look great, and are a common option for hanging stockings on places like the fireplace. However, if dogs tug at a stocking, mistaking it for a toy, both the stocking and the holder can come crashing down.

If these heavy metal holders fall onto your dog, it could injure them. Safer choices would be to either move stockings up higher completely out of your dog’s reach, or use a plastic hook to hang stockings up. There are plenty of options for hooks like these that look good, or stay out of sight, while still removing the danger of a metal stocking holder.

Boston Terrier sticking its head into a Christmas stocking.
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Try not to fill the stockings with food items before Christmas morning, or whenever you decided to open them. Putting food into them earlier on can provide temptations, and it can be dangerous for your dog to get ahold of chocolates and food.

Serving Dinner Without Common Hazards

Holiday dinners have great food with great company. But long tablecloths or runner can easily get yanked off the table. This can cause dishes, tableware, and hot food to come crashing down, which can be devastating for you and your dog. Try using shorter holiday table cloths or holiday table runners that don’t hang over the edge of the table.

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 be nervous about your dog getting into something that they shouldn’t.

Related article: How to Prepare Your Dog for the Holiday Season
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