Once the Christmas season has arrived, people are heading to their attics or basements looking for their decorations. Once the tree has been placed and decorated, additional care must be taken to ensure the safety of the pets. There are numerous steps to make certain all pets remain safe during the holiday season.
Learn to Respect Boundaries
Pets should be trained to respect boundaries and learn that climbing, sniffing, licking or chewing on the presents or tree is wrong. When a pet approaches the Christmas tree, they should be told no in a stern voice. When they listen, they should be given a reward such as a treat or an ear scratching. Some pets are incredibly persistent, and won’t listen. The only alternatives are to place a gate around the tree, or use a crate for your pet until after the holidays.
Don’t Decorate with Pets Around
Keep all pets away from the area while the tree is being decorated. Cats especially may attempt to pull the ornaments and decorations away before they can be hung. They may assume it is a new game and chase the ornaments. This can cause ornaments to break, and your cat might become entangled in wreaths and lights.
Familiarize Your Pet with the Tree
A tree should be left standing for three days before it is decorated. This provides your pet a chance to become familiar with the tree. Chances are they will play in the tree until curiosity has been satisfied. Your pet might become bored with the tree before it has been decorated.
Sturdy Tree Stand
The Christmas tree stand is important, because it is the anchor for the tree. The stand should be solid and have a substantial weight. When a pet decides it would be fun to climb the Christmas tree, the stand should prevent it from tipping over. A good stand can endure the antics of most pets.
Secure Your Tree with a Fishing Line
A monofilament fishing line can be used to secure the tree. Place the line around the tree, then screw it securely into the wall directly behind the tree. Another line can be tied towards the top of the tree, and secured into the ceiling with a molly. This will eliminate the chances of the tree being knocked down by an exuberant cat.
Twinkling lights on a Christmas tree are festive, enchanting and a real danger to pets. The required electricity runs through cords and this may present a temptation to pets. They can become entangled within the cords, or receive a serious shock if they chew on them. One option is to buy piping to cover the cords, all the way to the outlet.
Secure Cords with Duct Tape
When the tree is placed on a floor instead of carpeting, it is a good idea to fasten the cords to the floor with duct tape. This will secure the cords and keep them away from the pets.
Don’t Use Fertilizer
The water bowl for the tree should be covered with a substantial tree skirt. This will prevent the pets from pushing the skirt aside and drinking the tree water. Some pets can be incredibly persistent and will manage to move the skirt anyway. For this reason, do not use any type of fertilizer in the water.
Hang Ornaments up Top
Take care when placing the ornaments on the tree. When an ornament is hanging too low, it may attract the attention of the pets, or be knocked off by a happily wagging tail. Make sure your ornaments are securely fastened to the tree to prevent them from accidentally falling. Any ornaments meant to be eaten (like candy canes) should be securely wrapped and hung up higher on the tree. When the ornaments are hung on the tree, the more fragile and delicate ones should be placed close to the top. This is important for large dogs as well as cats. If these ornaments get knocked off the tree, they can easily break. The broken glass presents a definite threat for all pets. All ornaments near the base of the tree should not be breakable (solid material balls work best.)
Although most people think tinsel is gorgeous on a tree; it is a bad idea for pets. Not only can a pet choke on a piece of tinsel, but if eaten, it can entangle in the pet’s intestines. Remember to leave the tinsel off the tree for your pet’s safety.
Keep Presents Out of Reach
Wrapping Paper can be a major problem for pets. Pets are attracted to bright paper and colorful ribbons and bows. If a pet swallows any of these items, it presents a serious threat. The best solution is to keep the presents in a place the pets are unable to access.
Ornaments Are Not a Toy
Do not play with or tease a cat with any decorations or ornaments. This will make the cat believe the decorations are shiny new toys and they will want to play with the glittery decorations.
Bland is Better
Many cats will find sparkly, dangling, shimmering and glowing ornaments irresistibly attractive. Ornaments that are little blander, with less sparkle and shine, that do not dangle quite as much, will be a lot less alluring to cats. Choose ornaments made from material, paper or felt. Plainer decorations that do not spin or jump will not be as attractive to pets.
No Glass Ornaments
Glass ornaments are dangerous for pets because they can break and leave sharp glass beneath the tree. A better option is a shatter-proof ornament or bulb. The wire should be twisted around the branch, and not simply left hanging from the hook. This will help prevent the ornaments from being dislodge from the tree.