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Keeping Fluffy Safe During the Holidays: 11 Safety Tips for Pets

One of my cats is positively addicted to ribbon — and it’s absolutely one of the worst things a cat can eat. So we’ve made some small adjustments to our holidays: we just don’t use curling ribbon any more. Those stick-on bows hold no interest for our kitty, and hey, they’re less work anyway.

Besides ribbon, the holidays abound with danger for pets. From holiday plants to holiday treats, it seems like there’s something Grinch-y lurking around every corner for poor Mr. Fluffykins.

Protecting your pet from holiday hazards is really easy, though — when you know what to watch out for.

Check out our 11 tips for holiday safety–and the adorably festive accompanying photos–below!

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  • 11 tips for keeping your pets safe during the holidays! 1 of 12
    11 tips for keeping your pets safe during the holidays!
    Click the arrows to scroll through.
  • Skip the tinsel. 2 of 12
    Skip the tinsel.
    Shiny strands of tinsel hanging from the tree are incredibly tempting to many animals. Tinsel and ribbon, if swallowed, can obstruct your pet's digestive tract--a very serious problem.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Keep an eye on pets around holiday lights. 3 of 12
    Keep an eye on pets around holiday lights.
    If your dog or cat chews on strands of holiday lights, they could potentially receive burns to the mouth from the wire, and cuts from the glass bulbs. The wires can even deliver a potentially lethal shock to pets.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Your ornaments are the most tempting cat toys ever. 4 of 12
    Your ornaments are the most tempting cat toys ever.
    OMG! It's a ball hanging from a tree. Just swinging there, waiting for me to bat at it! The broken glass is a hazard to your pets and your family. The Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW)recommends using sticky mats, bubble wrap, or crunchy tinfoil around the tree to keep curious pets at bay. If you're not home to supervise, consider keeping your pet safe in another room of the house while you're out.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Consider anchoring your tree. 5 of 12
    Consider anchoring your tree.
    Whether you've got a Saint Bernard that could knock over your tree with one wag of the tail, or a tiny kitten that might knock it over by climbing it, considering securing your tree by anchoring it to the walls. In our house, our tree goes in front of our stairs, and we use green gardening twine to tie it to the railing in a few places. Anchors can also be placed in walls or even in the ceiling.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Pine needles can make your pet sick. 6 of 12
    Pine needles can make your pet sick.
    "Christmas tree varieties such as pine, spruce and fir contain essential oils and resins that may produce gastrointestinal irritation and minor nervous system depression if ingested in large enough quantities," says ASPCA animal poison control specialist Dana Farbman, CVT. The ASPCA also notes that preservatives used to keep tree water fresh can be toxic, and in any case stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria--so don't let your pets sip that water.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Another plant to keep away from your pet: holly. 7 of 12
    Another plant to keep away from your pet: holly.
    If eaten, holly will also cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets. Also, some varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats, says the ASPCA.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Poinsettia: not fatal, but not good for them, either. 8 of 12
    Poinsettia: not fatal, but not good for them, either.
    "Poinsettias are in actuality not the deadly flowers that popular legend has made them out to be," says a poison control expert at the ASPCA. "In reality, poinsettia ingestions typically produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which may include drooling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea."

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Smoochy, smoochy: mistletoe will make your pet sick. 9 of 12
    Smoochy, smoochy: mistletoe will make your pet sick.
    Hey, look at that fun toy hanging there! You think it's mistletoe, but it's really a big ball of cardiovascular problems if your pet eats it. Mistletoe can also cause gastrointestinal upset in pets.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Don’t forget about your pets in the hustle and bustle of the holiday 10 of 12
    Don't forget about your pets in the hustle and bustle of the holiday
    Even the most responsible kids might forget to clean out Mr. Fluffy's cage when they're dreaming of sugarplums and whatnot. Don't slack off on regular pet care and maintenance!

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • Ack! What do I do if I think my pet ate something toxic? 11 of 12
    Ack! What do I do if I think my pet ate something toxic?
    Check out the great resources at The ASPCA's Poison Control Website. You can also call their 24-hour emergency hotline at (888) 426-4435, but be aware that they do charge a $65 phone consultation fee.

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
  • So, what *isn’t* toxic to my pets during the holidays! 12 of 12
    So, what *isn't* toxic to my pets during the holidays!
    Lots of things! You can definitely include your furry loved ones in your festivities, and there are even great holiday gift ideas. For dogs, the ASPCA recommends "chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible." For cats, "a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer—and tons of play sessions together." Check out Barktacular Gifts for Dogs and 20 Irresistible Gifts for Pet Lovers at Babble's 2012 Holiday Gift Guide for more great gift-giving ideas!

    (Photo Credit: iStockphoto)

Read more from Joslyn at Strollerderby and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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