You may not realize that when you leave the television on to keep your pet company, they immediately switch to their favorite channel—Hounds and Grounds Television (HGTV). Today, we have special HGTV access to a holiday episode of This Old Dog House. The producers have translated the show to English, so pet owners can understand the important message. Let’s watch.

Dog Vila: “Hello, Dog House renovation fans! I’m your host, Dog Vila, and this is my co-host, Ty Barkington. Boy, do we have a special episode for you today! Instead of making over a dog house, we are taking the show inside the big house where the humans live, and doing a holiday home makeover. We are going room to room, and looking at holiday decor from a pet’s perspective. We bet your humans will decorate differently after watching!”

The living room—pet decor disasters in the making

Ty Barkington: “Look at this huge tree—it’s covered in toys! And, there is a giant water bowl at the base. I’ve got to say, these people really know how to decorate. I’m going to head over and check out one of the low-hanging sparkly balls.”

Dog Vila: “Hold on there, Ty. That is a Christmas tree, and those aren’t toys. The tree is for decoration only, and not for playing, climbing, or peeing. Those sparkly balls are breakable, and can cut your paw if you shatter one. And, if you rough house near the tree, the whole thing can topple over, and injure you. Let’s talk about how these people can reduce the likelihood of a tree-related accident. 

  • “First, the tree should be secure in it’s stand so it cannot fall over. For extra support, I’m going to wire it to an eye hook placed in the ceiling, or the wall behind.
  • “The “toys” are ornaments, and breakable types should be moved to higher branches, where a tail wag or paw swipe cannot knock them off.
  • ”In the big water bowl, the water is keeping the tree hydrated, but is probably full of chemicals, bacteria, and mold that can make pets sick. Let’s cover the tree stand with a fashionable tree skirt or wrap, so pets cannot drink the contaminated water.
  • “For particularly ornery pets—cats who climb the trunk, or pups who eat everything in sight—I recommend using baby gates to keep them away.”

The kitchen—food fiascos waiting to happen

Ty Barkington: “OK, got it! I can’t play with the ornaments, or drink from the giant water bowl. So, let’s head into the kitchen. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here. The chairs are the right height for me to jump on—oof, there we are!—and check out the wood table’s craftsmanship. Hey, a big red flower up here looks appetizing!”

Dog Vila: “Slow your roll, Ty! That flower looks like a poinsettia, which is not toxic, but can make you drool or vomit if you eat the leaves. Fortunately, these people don’t have any of the more toxic holiday varieties, like mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, or pine, around. 

“However, let’s make the kitchen more pet-safe by revamping the layout. For starters, it was way too easy for you to get onto that chair and access the table, where you can find all sorts of holiday foods.”

Ty Barkington: “Holiday food sounds great to me! Bring on the turkey skin, buttery mashed potatoes, and gravy. And, something chocolatey for dessert, please.”

Dog Vila: “How have you survived three years, Ty? Don’t you realize that all those foods are dangerous for pets? Have you not learned these important facts?

  • “High-fat foods, such as turkey skin and buttery mashed potatoes, can inflame your pancreas, and land you in the hospital for the holidays.
  • “Other foods, like onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, raw yeast dough, chocolate, and the sugar substitute xylitol, are downright toxic. If pets can reach the table or countertop, they may eat something they shouldn’t.
  • “An accessible trash can is also concerning. Pets often can’t resist the tantalizing aroma of trashed turkey trimmings, ham bones, and leftovers, and devour food that makes them sick, or bones that get stuck in their intestines, requiring surgical removal. I’m going to swap this trash can for one with a latched lid, but pet owners can also move their trash can to a closet or locked cupboard.”

The bedroom—a perfect place to hide out


Ty Barkington: “OK, OK, so I won’t eat anything from the trash or the table. Let’s move on to my favorite room—the bedroom. I love to curl up on my mom’s bed for a peaceful nap in the sun. This room smells heavenly, like lavender—I feel sleepy already.”

Dog Vila: “That smell is coming from the essential oil diffuser on the bedside table. Although lavender is not toxic to pets, many oils that people diffuse can be toxic, especially to cats. Many of the most toxic oils—wintergreen, peppermint, sweet birch, cinnamon, pine, and tea tree—are popular holiday fragrances, but should not be used in homes with pets.

“This out-of-the-way bedroom is the perfect place to construct a pet holiday party hideout. People often don’t realize that many pets don’t enjoy ringing doorbells, loud guests, and—my least favorite—fur-tugging toddlers, and would rather sit the party out in a quiet room.

“We will go all out for our quiet sanctuary with a roomy crate, cozy orthopedic pet bed, blankets, and plenty of toys. Heaven!”

Ty Barkington: “Well, folks, that’s it for this episode of This Old Dog House. Thank goodness for Dog Vila’s advice for pet owners. It might save some of—ahem—”us” a trip to the hospital this holiday season.”

There you have it—straight from the dog’s mouth. Take a look around your house, and see if any holiday renovations are in order, to keep your pets safe. If, despite your best efforts, your furry family member suffers a holiday mishap, call our Livermore Family Pet Hospital team.