How to keep cats and dogs safe around the Christmas tree

life is good -pete Foter CC BY-NC-ND
Holiday hazards: How to keep cats and dogs safe around the Christmas tree

Christmas is just around the corner and for many that means a tree and decorations. Twinkling lights and glistening tinsel may be appealing to the eye but for pets the Christmas tree holds a special fascination that can lead to danger. Something seemingly harmless like a Christmas tree can turn deadly to a dog or cat. Pet parents can to take certain precautions to make inviting a Christmas tree- real or fake- into their home safer for their furry family members. This is how to pet proof your tree and have a safe and merry Christmas!

Secure the tree

The first step is to make sure the tree is secure in the stand and cannot fall down. That way if your pet shows some interest in the tree when you aren't home at least you know the tree will be standing. If not, you run the risk of the tree falling on your pet. It could also damage your home and the ornaments leaving broken glass on the floor. A really good, secure tee stand is something you do not want to cheap out on this Christmas.

Photo by slantedl CC BY-NC-ND

Watering the tree

The Christmas tree will need to be watered and as pet parents we must try to make sure our pets don't drink the water. Purchasing a tree stand that is less open and accessible is a great way to avoid this. As long as your pet has constant access to fresh water it should not be attracted to the tree water. It is important to sweep up pine needles on a regular basis to ensure your pet is not eating them. Pet parents should also avoid using chemicals in the tree water. Chemicals out there may advertise a beautiful, lush Christmas tree but very few of them will be pet safe. Say no to chemicals and make the sacrifice that may save your pet this holiday season.

Tree decorations

Because a tree is a new and interesting addition to your home a pet can't help but be curious about it. That is why it is best to decoration with caution. All breakable ornaments should be hung at the top of the tree. It is also important to not use any chocolate when decorating. The most dangerous tree decoration of all is tinsel. Cats are especially drawn to this shiny, hanging play thing. If your pet consumes tinsel it runs the risk of obstructing its digestive tract. This could lead to health complications, expensive vet bills and even death. My best advice: skip the tinsel all together. Ask yourself: is it worth it?

Lights, cords and wires

A Christmas tree is not a Christmas tree without lights! Christmas lights are by far one of the most beautiful and magical of all holiday decorations. More lights means more wires and cords laying around the home and some pets might find them interesting. Keep all wires together and as away from the pets as you can. Try a pet repellent spray or a bitter tasting pet spray on the wires to deter chewing.

Photo by Βethan Foter CC BY-NC-ND

Presents under the tree

Christmas is the time for giving but gifts under the tree can pose a threat to your pet. Ribbon on gifts may look like a chew toy to a cat or dog. Unfortunately cats and dogs can't digest ribbon and it could cause serious stomach complications. Also avoid putting gifts out with human food in them- this is a temptation that food driven dogs will not be able to ignore. If you have gifts with ribbon or food, try to keep them high up out of the reach or curious paws. If you do see a piece of ribbon coming out of, um, the back end of your pet DO NOT pull on it. Cut away at it with scissors and let it come out, er, naturally.

Holiday costumes

Some pet parents may be tempted to join in on the ever growing trend of dressing pets up for holiday photos in front of the tree. There is nothing wrong with that- in fact it is great to let the pets join in on the family photos. Make sure any holiday pet costumes fit properly: it should not be too lose or too constricting. Make sure that pets can't chew anything that may be dangling from the costume.

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