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Have a pet-safe holiday season this year

It’s that time of year already, where people are getting ready to celebrate their personal holidays. Or maybe you don’t but have friends and family that do.

Being I’m a pet lover, which, if you’ve been reading my column, you already know, I thought I’d go over a few tips to have a pet-safe holiday season. I know many of these things are common sense, both in terms of decor and overall safety, but it never hurts to remind ourselves whether we’re celebrating at home or visiting with others.

My girlfriend had two little pups who were food hounds. She always tried to keep close tabs on them, but one year they pulled the turkey right off the table by tugging on the tablecloth. She now uses place mats.

I love glass ornaments, but they can be a real safety hazard. Instead, consider shatterproof plastic or metal. Don’t like the colors? Simple nontoxic spray paint will do the trick to match your tree’s color scheme.

Whether you’re having guests over or traveling to family, make sure your pet has a collar and updated tag. Again, this is common sense, but I have many friends that are just into bandanas when they are at home.

With people coming and going, the door is opening and closing a lot, and some may not be used to closing the door. Your pets can get anxious if they’re not used to company, and it’s not uncommon for one to run out. It’s so easy for them to get out without being noticed. I have a girlfriend who absolutely loves her dogs, but they don’t go anywhere when the door is open. I would never trust mine.

If you’re adding real plants into your decor, I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure they are non-toxic. These are just a few you need to avoid as they’re dangerous for your pets: mistletoe, holly berries, ivy, poinsettia, lilies and daffodils. Check the ASPCA’s list of plants to find out how these and others can be harmful to your pets.

During the holidays, candles are a big part of the decor. Instead of burning candles, consider using battery-operated ones. Unattended candles are a hazard anytime during the year with wagging tails. If you use electric candles, it’s good to have a cord guard to prevent your pet from chewing on it.

If your holiday includes hanging stockings, be very careful what you put in them and where they are. Food treats will be very tempting to pets. Hanging stockings on a mantel is a tradition, but make sure you’re in the room when the fireplace is on, especially for older homes with open wood-burning fireplaces.

Do you have curious pets? What about decorating behind glass doors? Add some holiday cheer to your china cabinet, entertainment unit or glass kitchen cabinets. I put out a few of my holiday Barbies in my entertainment unit each year. I’m a bit of a collector, so it takes a couple of years before I see the same ones again.

For any holiday or celebration, wrapping paper, tape and ribbons can end up with a trip to the vet. If you buy your pets gifts, keep their presents out of reach until you’re ready to open them. Also, if you have a pet that loves opening yours, you might want to keep them safe when you’re not at home.

My very first dog, Checkers, was staying over at the house of a friend, who also had a pup. They always left presents under their tree, and Annie never touched them until she had a friend to open them with. Yes, they unwrapped every present. Luckily, neither of them was hurt and didn’t get disciplined as they couldn’t stop laughing; the dogs were covered in paper.

I’m sure either yourself or a friend had a tree topple over when the cat wanted to use it as a scratching or climbing post. The best way to lower your chances of this happening is to secure it to the wall or use a heavy tree base.

Do you have any expensive or sentimental ornaments you don’t want to be damaged? To secure them, wrap floral wire around the hooks and twist onto the branches. If you have a white tree, use white twist ties.

Consider moving some of your decorations up and out of the reach of tails and teeth. I know if you have cats, this can be a bit more challenging. But have you ever decorated above your kitchen cabinets? My girlfriend does it every year, and it looks wonderful.

When decorating a home with a pet, think of the precautions you would take if you had a toddler. Your pets are as curious as they are, whether new to the house or ones you’ve had for years. Having pet-friendly holidays requires some easy and simple changes that, in my opinion, are worth taking to keep my little ones safe.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to GMJinteriors@gmail.com. Or mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is www.GMJinteriors.com.

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