Now that we are officially in the post-Thanksgiving time of the holiday season, it’s time to start decorating for Christmas!
I truly love the Christmas season. I always have. However, there are many Christmas decorations and traditions that can be potentially harmful to our pets. I can’t begin to share with you the number of Christmas tree-related injuries I experienced while working at the veterinary hospital. Everything from eye scratches to foreign body surgeries. Therefore, today I would like to discuss 5 tips for keeping your Christmas tree pet safe.
1. Watch Out for Toxins
Christmas trees themselves are considered mildly toxic to pets and can puncture the intestinal wall if ingested, so it’s best to keep the area around your tree vacuumed. However, there is no need to add insult to injury by including fake snow on your tree or additives to your tree water, which are also toxic to pets if consumed.
If this is your first Christmas with your pet and you are unsure of how they will react to the Christmas tree, consider how they interact with other plants. For example, my parent’s dog Sasha LOVES to snack on plants. Her temptation increases when the plant is right in front of her face, and she doesn’t need to reach up or down to snack on the plant. Therefore, she is more likely to show interest in the Christmas tree, so artificial snow is out of the question for my parent’s tree.
Additionally, if your dog is willing to lick any water it comes into contact with, expect that they will want to drink the water under the Christmas tree as well. Since the additives to Christmas tree water are very toxic to pets, it’s wise to opt for a covered water bowl with no water additives.
2. Strategically Place Your Ornaments
If your pet ingest ornaments, they can cause terrible results for your pet’s digestive tract. While working in veterinary medicine, I saw a number of foreign body surgeries occur, and some were much more complicated than others. The best treatment for foreign bodies is to prevent them in the first place. If your pet shows interest in the tree and the ornaments, start by keeping them out of their reach. I have seen a few pet parents keep the bottom of their tree empty and cover that portion with wrapped presents.
3. Stay Away from Edible Decorations Like Popcorn or Gingerbread
While many of these decorations are considered traditions, it is best to keep them out of your Christmas tree if you don’t want to tempt your pets further. You could opt for a more natural look on your Christmas tree by using pinecones as a decor item. However, please stay away from mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and lilies that are toxic to pets.
4. Secure Cords
Rooney loves to chew on cords. Fortunately, we found this out when he chewed up the cord to our electric blanket when it wasn’t plugged in. To avoid a shock, please secure your cords both on the Christmas tree by placing them along the wall as high as possible and using cord covers.
5. Keep Your Tree Out of Reach & Secure
It’s much easier said than done, but if your pet can’t get to your tree, the above tips may be a moot point. If possible, place a barricade around your tree to prevent your pets from attacking the ornaments, jumping into the trees, etc. In addition to protecting the bottom of the tree as mentioned previously, you can also use baby or pet gates where necessary. Using a wood baby or pet gate can keep a rustic feel while also protecting your pet from the temptations and dangers of the Christmas tree.
Lastly, if you can secure your tree to the wall, you should. In the event your pet decides to jump into the tree (which isn’t unheard of), at least they can’t further injure themselves by knocking it over.
If you think that your dog might show interest in the Christmas tree, please consider crating them while you are away. If you haven’t consistently crated them in the past, please consider reading my past blog post, “How to Get Your Dog to Love Their Crate”
All this being said, I hope you and your pets enjoy a beautiful holiday season.
Vet Medicine: http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/toxicology/f/christmastrees.htm
Vets Now: http://www.vets-now.com/pet-owners/cat-care-advice/christmas-dangers-cats/
Rachel Sheppard is the author and founder of My Kid Has Paws. She is a Social Media Manager, blogger, corgi mom, animal lover, volunteer, graduate student, and shoe collector.
After graduating from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science & Management, she worked as a Veterinary Assistant for 3 years. Her daily interactions with pet parents inspired her to start her blog focused on pet health, pet rescue, and pet products. She has a true enthusiasm for veterinary medicine and animal science, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with pet parents.