If you have a pet, decorating for the holidays can be tricky, especially when it comes to setting up your Christmas tree. The large new object in the house will be the focus of their curiosity and attention, so pet owners should know how to keep their pet safe and the tree intact throughout the season.
Dogs and cats could drink Christmas tree water or knock down trees and some cats love to climb the trunk and bat at dangling decorations. Plus, a curious cat or wagging dog tail can be a hazard to your Christmas ornaments.
The good news is that pets and Christmas trees can co-exist. Here are some Christmas tree safety tips to protect your furry friends, your Christmas tree and Christmas decorations.
Pet Safe Christmas Tree
Whether you prefer a natural or artificial Christmas tree, start with a sturdy tree stand for maximum stability. Note that both pine needles and any shredded plastic that might fall off your artificial tree can be harmful to pets if swallowed. Natural pine needles are mildly toxic and can irritate an animal’s mouth and both pine needles and plastic needles could block their intestines.
If your tree is artificial, avoid styles that have been flocked, colored or covered with glitter, which your pets might be tempted to eat.
To discourage clawing and chewing, use pet deterrents like bitter apple spray or citrus spray on and around the tree.
Also, keep your pet away from tree water, especially if you add aspirin, preservatives or other products to help keep a real Christmas tree fresh. Some tree stands have covers to deter pets. If yours doesn’t, you can fashion a simple one from tin foil or an aluminum tray. Or simply tie the tree skirt tightly around the trunk above the tree stand.
Christmas Tree Size & Location
When it comes to pets and Christmas tree safety, the size of your tree is a matter of personal preference. There are trade-offs no matter what tree size you choose. Smaller trees are easier for an animal to knock over, which may be a temptation to mischief for some cats and dogs. However, a larger Christmas tree has the potential for greater damage. It could fall and injure your pet as well as scratch or dent your furnishings. Depending on what is nearby, a falling tree might take out your TV, shatter precious tabletop decor or destroy any number of tree ornaments. And water spilled from a live tree stand could ruin your rug or floor.
For added security, tuck your tree in a corner or behind your sofa, or place it in a room that can be closed off with a door or pet gate. Consider anchoring your tree to the wall or ceiling using a few hooks and some fishing wire.
If that isn’t possible, try blockading the tree with pet fencing. Confine your pet in another room and crate them when you aren’t around to supervise.
Ornaments & Decorations
Another Christmas pet safety tip is to avoid decorating your tree with anything edible. Popcorn and cranberry strings, candy Christmas decorations and cookie ornaments made from modeling clay, salt dough, flour paste or gingerbread are cute, but they aren’t pet safe Christmas ornaments.
Additionally, glass ornaments are dangerous to your pet if swallowed, and tinsel and garland can block your pet’s intestines and may require surgical removal if ingested.
So what kind of decorations can you put on your Christmas tree?
Christmas Central offers a wide selection of shatterproof ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree. While shatterproof ornaments are not indestructible, they can take rough handling, are extremely durable and won’t create dangerous glass slivers if broken.
Hang your ornaments using short lengths of yarn, ribbon or floral wire. A metal ornament hook might lodge in your pet’s throat or intestines if swallowed. Ornament hooks are very flexible, so if you do use them, be sure to pinch the hook closed at both ends to keep both the ornament and the hook from falling off.
More Christmas Safety Tips for Pets
- Use swags on mantels instead of draping garland, or keep your garland from dangling within your pet’s reach.
- Decorate table tops with flameless LED candles. A significant number of home fires have been caused by a pet knocking over a lit candle.
- Secure electrical cords tightly to the tree and tape them to the floor. Pets may be tempted to chew on a loose cord, with tragic results.
- Ensure that the bulbs of your mini Christmas lights are secure. A loose bulb that falls to the floor could tempt your pet.
- Train your curious pet to avoid the Christmas tree with a spritz of water (aim away from electrical outlets!) Some people place a broom or vacuum cleaner near the tree. If your pet is afraid of the broom, he’ll stay away from the tree.
- Avoid decorating your tree when your pets are around. Nothing piques their curiosity like a bunch of loose ornaments!
Don’t awaken to the unpleasant surprise of a horizontal tree on Christmas morning. A little planning will make the holiday season safer and more pleasurable for you and your pets!
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