Christmas Tree Pet Safety Tips

The entire holiday season is exciting, yet stressful, to families across the country; with the scramble to transition from Thanksgiving celebrations to hanging Christmas decorations, shopping, and preparing for more large family gatherings, it’s easy to understand how and why some things could go unnoticed or unplanned for. In light of the busy Christmas season, we have some helpful tips to keep your family’s pets safe throughout the holiday season.

Decoration Dangers

Real Christmas Trees

A live tree is beautiful, of that there is no doubt. However, they do come with a good deal of risk that their synthetic counterparts don’t share. For instance, house fires are far more likely during the holiday season, simply because of the dangers a drying live tree offers. Live trees are dangerous for your pets as well; we see this in a number of ways, such as:

  • Ingesting nettles, branches, oils, and sap can be very attractive and dangerous for your pet. Live, raw pine trees can be toxic for many pets, leading to illness, injury, and, in rare cases, death.
  • Gnawing on light strands brings about the risk of electrocution. Unfortunately, lights are often chewed upon near the base of Christmas trees, providing your pet shelter from being seen while partaking in this dangerous activity.
  • Climbing the tree is largely reserved for cats, but it can be a real problem. Shiny lights and ornaments are very appealing for climbing pets and they do not understand that the tree isn’t actually planted in the ground. If the tree tips over, the pet and home are at risk for falling damage, water damage, and even an electrical surge or fire.
  • Sickness caused from drinking tree water is a very real possibility. While it may seem funny to watch the family dog regularly saunter under the tree to take a drink, many trees contain preservatives and other natural or artificial chemicals that can be hazardous to pets.
  • Fire caused from dry trees is the most dangerous holiday hazard for pets and people alike; this dryness is often caused by pets drinking the water intended for the tree. Worse still, these fires often happen when owners aren’t home or are asleep, further endangering the family and pets alike.

Pet-Proofing Tips

To make a safer home for your pet this holiday season, we suggest you take the following precautions for your real tree:

  • Never leave pets unattended with access to the tree when you aren’t around. While your pet may be able to stay out of a crate or partitioned area most of the year, Christmas time is, for many families, an exception. Whether you block off your pets from the tree or the tree from your pets, we suggest keeping the two separate whenever possible.
  • Acclimate your pets to decorations gradually. Our Salida veterinarian recommends that you give pets time to adjust to the tree before decorating it with lights and shiny things. This gives your pets time to feel out the new addition to the home, get used to and bored of it, and then ultimately care less about its eventually decorated state.
  • Secure all cords and decorations firmly. For cords, securing them to the wall, rather than leaving them hanging in the back or underside of the tree, can make for a much less appealing and accessible danger. Decorations, especially tinsel, garland, and ribbon, should be secured as much as possible to prevent them from getting pulled off.
  • Use a tree skirt or cover for the tree’s water supply. Whether you buy one at the store or make it out of plastic wrap or aluminum foil, simply pet-proofing your tree’s water supply is the best way to remove the largest danger to your pet.

Contact Mountain Shadows

If you have a pet emergency or concern this holiday season, be sure to contact the caring staff at Mountain Shadows Animal Hospital in Salida or stop in to see our veterinarian. Our goal is to keep your pets as happy and healthy as the rest of the family throughout the holidays.

Give us a call today for information or appointment availability!