Deck the Halls: How to Pet-Proof Your Christmas Tree

Written on November 30, 2018 by Rachael Gillis Hospital: Ethos Veterinary Health

For many homes and families thisIMG_0385 holiday season, a Christmas tree is a staple decoration. If you celebrate Christmas, and share your home with pets, this can become more complicated. Your beautifully decorated Christmas tree can quickly turn into chaos that is dangerous for both you and your pet (and your delicate ornaments). Don’t worry: you can still have a Christmas tree! You just have to take a few precautions. Here’s some do’s and don’ts for pet-proofing your Christmas tree this year:


Real or fake

Don’t: Let your pet drink the tree water or eat pine needles if you’re a real tree family.

Do: Consider a fake tree instead, which eliminates some of these hazards. If you’re sticking with a real tree, consider a Scotch Pine which has extremely sharp needles that your pets won’t enjoy chewing on.


All that glitter…

Don’t: Get a sparkly, glittery, or shiny tree. As dazzling as these may look, they are more likely to catch your pet’s attention too.

Do: Go for a traditional-style plain tree that you can dazzle with your own decorations.


Location, location, location!

Don’t: Put your tree near shelves or surfaces that your cat may be able to jump from.

Do: Put your tree against a wall or in a corner to give it more support in case of tipping.


Go big and tie it down

Don’t: Buy a tabletop tree, theseIMG_0450 can easily be snatched off the tabletop and become a chew toy for your dog or tipped over by your curious cat.

Do: Secure your tree from the bottom and the top if necessary. Big dogs or dogs with happy tails can easily bump into and knock over an unstable tree while running excitedly through the house or playing with a family member. Use a sturdy, heavy base (they even make cute giftbox-shaped stand covers to add some bottom weight!) You can also tie the top of the tree to the ceiling using a strong fishing wire.


Start off slow

Don’t: Decorate the whole tree right away, especially with delicate or glass ornaments.

Do: Start with a bare tree to see how interested your pet is, and then try just a few ornaments. Pets will usually lose interest within a few days and this is a good trial to see how nosey they really are (without finding out the hard way).


Keep the delicate ones high

Don’t: Use delicate ornaments or ones that are super important to you (baby’s 1stChristmas) especially on lower branches, until you’re absolutely sure your pet will leave the tree alone.

Do: Use silk, soft, or shatterproof ornaments and place fragile ornaments up high with wire hangers clamped on tightly to branches. If your pet is relentless, hang bells on low-hanging branches so you can hear when they’re getting into mischief.


Light it up

Don’t: Wrap lights around low302773_452829124752324_1906898732_n branches or keep cords in plain sight. This is a serious electrical hazard that could cause an electrical shock or fire if bitten or played with.

Do: Keep lights on higher branches with an extension cord fastened to a wall or hidden under the tree skirt.


Save the food for eating, and the tinsel for later!

Don’t: Put edible food decorations on your tree (popcorn, gingerbread cookies, candy canes, etc.) that can cause your pet stomach upset or cause them to knock over the tree while hunting. And no tinsel if you have a cat! Tinsel is extremely intriguing to cats and is one of the most common foreign body ingestions we see around this time of year (stay tuned for a blog related to this soon).

Do: Use artificial popcorn or other alternatives such as ribbon or garland.


Gift (Un)wrapping

Don’t: Put your wrapped presents outIMG_6700 all at once. You may find them unwrapped or damaged well before Christmas morning.

Do: Try a few at first to see how your pet reacts, then slowly put out more (making sure none of them have any yummy smells inside). Or just wait until Santa comes on Christmas Eve!


Wishing you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season. If you need anything or have any questions, we are here.


Related Blog Posts:

Santa Paws: My 2017 Holiday Pet Gift Guide

Sweater Weather: 5 Ways to Keep Your Pet Warm this Winter

7 Thanksgiving Foods that Can Be Dangerous for Your Pets



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