Pet Safety Regarding Christmas Lights – A Complete Overview
February 4, 2023
In the midst of the holiday season, it’s common to want to decorate your home with lots of lights since it brings a very festive feeling in the wintertime, as you should! But in doing so you may also be concerned with the safety of your pets, which you should be as well.
While Christmas decoration lights are a staple for the holidays there are some things you should consider when it comes to the safety of your pets.
The main danger of Christmas lights to your pets is the risk of an electrical shock. Many pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters are all prone to chew on the wires of your lights. This can lead to them getting an electrical shock or even getting electrocuted.
While this is the most common danger regarding Christmas lights and your pets there are also other things you may want to consider, such as harmful materials or strong and strobing lights.
Can Your Christmas Lights Electrocute Your Pets?
As mentioned, the biggest danger your electric Christmas lights present to your pets is the risk of electrocution.
Your pets can get electrocuted by your Christmas lights when they chew through the wiring of the lights. When your pets bite through the plastic insulator which protects the copper within there is a chance that the electricity which normally goes through the lights will find its way into your pet.
How Pets Can Get Shocked By Christmas Lights
We know that it’s possible for your pets to get an electrical shock from Christmas lights, but under what circumstances does this happen and how is it possible in the first place?
As mentioned, the most common instance of this happening is wiring being chewed. Every pet owner has experienced this at some point, and while it’s difficult keeping your pets away from doing it it’s worth doing so since they can injure themselves severely if they end up biting through the wire.
The way an electrical shock like that works is simple. Electrical currents are nothing more than electrons in motion. The goal of the electron is to neutralize itself, which is why it moves from a place with charge (+) to a point with lower or no charge (-).
When your pet ends up touching a live wire it is likely that it will start conducting some of the electrons that would normally stay within the wire to earth. In electrical terms, earth is essentially a point of 0V, meaning absolutely no charge.
In a realistic scenario, the earth could be the floor or any other somewhat electrically conductive material your pet may be touching.
Consequences Of Your Pet Getting An Electrical Shock
So what actually happens if your pet were to get an electrical shock? What are the effects of electrical shocks?
There are a lot of negative health effects to getting shocked. Some effects include:
Burns on paws, tail, or elsewhere on the body
Abnormal or difficult breathing
Increased heart rate
Seizures or convulsions
Collapse and unconsciousness
Cardiac arrest, which is commonly called a heart attack
This list of potential symptoms of electrical shock was collected from here. The article linked mainly refers to cats but the symptoms are applicable to practically all other pets too, humans included.
While all of these symptoms are true, the severity of the injury will depend on two factors, which are time and strength. This refers to the amount of time the shock occurred and how strong the electrical current is.
If the shock only occurred for a fraction of a second and the electrical current is tiny you’ll likely suffer little to no injury, whereas if you’re stuck for several seconds with a large electrical current you may suffer more serious injuries.
How To Prevent Your Pets From Getting Shocked
Now that we’ve covered how your pet can get shocked and what happened if it does, we should look at how to avoid this in the first place.
Since the main cause of electrical shocks is your pets chewing on your wires that is what we shall focus on for the most part.
Getting Your Dog To Stop Chewing On Christmas Light Wires
Since dogs are the most popular pet according to most statistics we will begin with how to keep your dogs from chewing on your wires.
The easiest solution to this is to simply hide the wires as best as possible. If the dog can’t find the wire it can’t chew it. But since that isn’t practical in most scenarios, here are some other solutions.
Put a protective plastic cover on the wires of your lights.
Spray the wires with something bitter to deter them.
Divert the dogs’ attention with other chewing toys or other activities.
Getting Your Rabbits To Stop Chewing On Christmas Light Wires
Another popular pet would be rabbits, but these tips are also going to be applicable to other rodents, such as rats, hamsters and guinea pigs.
Some ways to stop rodents from chewing on your Christmas lights include:
Hide the wiring.
Block off areas or sections of your home with a lot of exposed wires.
Spray the wires with something bitter or spicy. You can also try picking up a rabbit-repellent spray if that doesn’t work.
Invest in wire covers.
Other Potential Dangers Of Christmas Lights To Your Pets
While we have covered the most dangerous and prevalent danger regarding Christmas lights to your pets there are some other things you should also consider that aren’t immediately obvious.
Can Your Pets Damage Their Eyes From Christmas Lights?
One consideration to make is whether or not you can damage the eyes of your pet with Christmas lights.
When it comes to cats this isn’t much of a worry. Even though cats have a more sensitive vision than ours they aren’t necessarily affected much by light. They may get startled by a very sudden bright light, but generally speaking, they won’t get hurt by Christmas lights. If they eventually find the light uncomfortable they will simply look away or go somewhere else.
As for dogs, it’s pretty much the same thing as cats. Most dogs aren’t too fussed about Christmas lights and some may in fact be attracted to them in the same way cats are attracted to a laser pointer.
However, rabbits may find themselves to be disturbed by Christmas lighting.
Rabbits are biologically inclined to seek out lowly lit or dark environments whenever they’re not in sunlight. While Christmas lights aren’t very likely to hurt their eyes it means that constantly having them lit may end up disturbing them as bunnies prefer the dark.
Are Christmas Lights Toxic For Animals?
Another aspect to consider is if Christmas lights contain harmful substances or not. Some common light bulbs used in the home contain mercury as part of their construction, meaning that it isn’t unrealistic to be concerned about that in your Christmas lighting.
Luckily, most Christmas lights don’t actually contain any mercury.
Most holiday lights are mainly made using incandescent lights or LEDs, which neither contain any mercury at all. Click here for a full list of Light Bulbs That Contain Mercury.
That said, there is one more harmful substance that is sometimes used within Christmas lights, which is lead.
“The answer is yes: most Christmas lights do contain trace amounts of lead.”
While lead is dangerous this is likely not something to concern yourself with much since the amounts found within these lights are likely far from lethal.
Risk Of Strangulation From Christmas Light Wires
Another thing to consider about Christmas lights is having a lot of long wires exposed. The reason for this is that there is a chance that your pet may find itself stuck in the wires and eventually strangle itself.
To avoid this it’s wise to hide as much of your wires as possible, and if that’s not possible you should try your best to not let long lengths of wire be exposed.
When it comes to the safety of your pets there is no such thing as being paranoid. They are part of your family and should be treated as such.
The biggest danger Christmas lights present to your pets is the risk of an electrical shock from chewing on the wires of the lights. To prevent this you can use wire protectors or strong odours to keep them away.
While you should still use Christmas lights to bring feeling to the holidays you should also be smart with how you place them to ensure the safety of your pets as much as possible.
Hello, I'm Daniel, the author behind this article and owner of this website!
I'm a young soul at 23 years old with a passion for everything lighting since I find it very fascinating in general.
I studied light planning for 2 years in Stockholm, Sweden and now work with light planning full time.