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Top tips for dog (and cat) proofing your Christmas tree

It's Christmas time! Can you believe it? I'm still wondering where this year has gone.

Christmas is one of the times I love seeing pet pictures posed in adorable little outfits in front of the family Christmas tree. They look so cute (and innocent), and it's enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

But Christmas trees and pets (especially dogs) aren't always the best mix.

As you know, pets are curious creatures. Anything new, different or exciting, they want to explore.

And a big, shiny Christmas tree is no exception!

Although all pets will be curious about your tree, if you've got a younger puppy or kitten, you will have to take extra care to ensure their safety this festive season.

Let's explore!

7 ways to pet-proof your Christmas tree

1. Real Christmas trees

Dogs will be attracted to the smell of fresh pine and want to explore your tree. Don't let them eat the pine tree's needles because they are toxic, and they won't be able to digest them and can end up feeling very ill. The water in the base of the tree is also often treated with chemicals to keep the tree fresh, so ensure it's covered to prevent your pets from drinking it.

2. Artificial Christmas trees

Although not toxic like a real tree, artificial Christmas trees can become brittle over time, causing pieces of plastic or aluminium (holding the branches) to break off. If your pet chews on your tree, it may result in a sore mouth or a blockage in the intestine.

3. Christmas ornaments

You can't have a Christmas tree without ornaments! When buying ornaments for your tree, look for those that aren't glass or edible (like candy canes). Your pet will sniff out sweet treats and do anything to get to them, and broken glass ornaments can lead to health issues. The safest bet is wooden (or plastic) ornaments. However, you'll still need to check that they aren't treated with toxic chemicals to your pet.

4. Ornament hooks

When hanging your ornaments, opt for ribbon or twine rather than the ones with hooks. Traditional wire hooks will harm your pet if they eat them. They are also more likely to get stuck in waggy tags or the curious ears of snooping dogs or in your cat's paws if they decide to climb up your tree.

5. Christmas tinsel

If possible, ditch the tinsel this year! If your pet chews tinsel, it will cause intestinal blockage that will (more than likely) require surgery to remove. That's the last thing you need at Christmas time. Swap tinsel for some pretty bows to create an elegant-looking, pet-proof Christmas tree.

6. Christmas tree lights

If you love the flashy lights on your Christmas tree, buy those with cord protectors that will prevent your pet from electric shock should they manage to chew them. Also, ensure they are firmly secured to your Christmas tree so your pet doesn't get tangled up if they go exploring while you're not around.

7. Christmas presents

Unless you want to find your Christmas presents unwrapped before the big day, you shouldn't leave presents under the tree! This is even more important if the present is food related! Not only can the paper or ribbons become stuck in your pet's throat or intestines, but the packaging around the present (e.g. plastic) may be harmful.

How can I safely have a Christmas tree with a pet?

  • It's easy! Think of your pet like a small child:

  • Leave the lower branches relatively empty

  • Place any expensive (family tradition) ornaments up high

  • Place your Christmas tree inside a playpen

  • Close the door to the room when you're not home

  • Don't use food ornaments or leave food presents under the tree

  • Buy a pet-deterrent spray to mist over your tree

  • Keep your tree away from objects that can act as a launch pad for a curious cat (chairs, benches etc.)

Some more quick tips on pet safety at Christmas

Christmas is about more than a tree, so here are my final quick tips on how to keep your pet safe over Christmas:

  • Ensure your pet has a safe, quiet spot to hide away from visitors if your home becomes too noisy for them

  • Avoid giving them titbits from the Christmas table (and ask others to do the same), as food like avocado, chocolate, Christmas pudding, cooked bones, grapes, ham, pork and onion can be fatal for dogs

  • Keep alcoholic drinks up high, so thirsty pets join in the festivities with you and your guests

  • Batteries that are left lying around or chewed out of toys can cause serious health issues, so ask children to keep their toys out of reach from your pet

  • Buy a special treat for your pet, whether it's a new toy, a natural treat or a fun costume

Please stay safe over the Christmas/New Year period

If you've got any more ideas, hints or tips on how to keep pets safe for Christmas, I'd love for you to share them in the comments below.

Or, if you'd like any advice on decorating your Christmas tree safely, please get in touch.

Here's a reminder of all my services.

I am fully booked out over Christmas/New Year and will take bookings from Australia day in 2023.

Until next time, pat your fur babies for me and Merry Christmas!


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