THE BLOG
12/12/2013 03:18 pm ET | Updated Feb 11, 2014

Paws Off! Protecting Pets From Our Gadgets (and Vice Versa) This Christmas

In our home, it's not just the holiday lights that put a twinkle in our eyes, but the blinking trinkets of the tech toys we unwrap on Christmas morning. From the newest iPad to the most sought-after gaming system, my house -- like many people's homes -- turns into a veritable Best Buy once the last scraps of wrapping paper are ripped. One item topping my list this year is a new smartphone. I didn't drop the old one, or spill coffee on it; my iPhone died at the hands -- or should I say paws of -- a certain, four-legged member of my family, whom I will not name in this piece (suffice to say he is now on the naughty list).

My situation is hardly strange -- in fact, it has been well-documented that pets can be hazardous to our gadgets. But as the head of the country's leading pet health insurance company, I also know the damage these devices can cause to our pets. From lacerations, to poisoning, to intestinal blockage, our tech tools can bite back when bitten. To protect pets from injury -- and keep gifted gadgets intact -- try these tricks for pet-proofing your home for the holidays.

Hard-Wired for Trouble.

It may be tempting to take all of those tech toys and plug them into every available socket, but steer clear of plugging in where paws can easily interfere. Charge electronics on countertops or hard-to-reach outlets, or invest in a cable anchor or Plug Hub to keep cords under wraps. Pets can suffer burns to the mouth, paws and face from chewing on cables, so keep dangling cords out of paws' reach.

Hit or Miss.

When setting up new gadgets like computer monitors or stereo speakers, be sure to position them on a solid surface away from edges, where they could be knocked over onto unsuspecting pets. Cats are a little quicker on the uptake than dogs, but any pet can be injured if something falls onto them unexpectedly. Use extra care when mounting flat screen TVs; a gadget that heavy could break bones (or backs) if it ever came tumbling down.

Hold the Phone.

No, literally -- hold onto your phone! A smartphone makes a tempting chew toy, and can dial up a pet health disaster before you realize it's missing. Much like giving a dog a bone, chewing up a phone poses a range of risks to prying paws. Pets can sustain lacerations from splintered glass, suffer stomach perforation from ingesting pieces of plastic, or even fall prey to poisoning if they chew on the battery. Be extra vigilant if you use a case made of rubber, which may smell similar to some of your dog's favorite toys. Make a habit of storing your phone on an elevated surface that pets can't reach. If you have a super chewer on your hands -- Lab owners, I'm looking at you -- it's a good idea to use a docking station to make it harder for Fido to fetch your phone (there's another tech toy to add to this year's wish list)!

Play It Safe.

If you've got a video game freak in your family, chances are you have a lot of electronic "accoutrements." From controllers and headsets, to racing wheels and toy guns, there's a lot that can be left lying around for a snooping pooch to sniff out. Gnawing jaws can lead to fractured teeth, and ingesting a joystick could require surgery to remove. It's all fun and games until you're handed a $5,000 vet bill -- so pack up the playthings once the winner takes all.

Holiday gift-giving can be full of surprises -- but one of them shouldn't be a pet health emergency. Unlike electronics, our pets don't come with a warranty, so protect what's really important to ensure the holidays will be happy, and healthy "fur" everyone.