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O Christmas Tree (Safety)

JohnWDavisJr [Flickr]

Some Christmas decorations can pose a risk to our pets that may entice your furry friend into the tree.  Even bows and ribbon on gifts can cause problems if chewed and swallowed.  Protect your pet from Christmas dangers so you can enjoy the holiday now and for years to come!


Even during a pandemic, on the weekend after Thanksgiving we begin decorating our home for Christmas. It is also a time when we have to keep in mind the safety of our four-footed family members.

The biggest decoration in the house is our Christmas tree. We use an artificial tree, with the lights already attached, which is easier for us – but it doesn’t mean it’s totally safe for our pets.

We anchor our tree so that it cannot be turned over by a rambunctious dog or climbing cat. The electrical cords are run under the tree skirt in such a way that a curious pet won’t try to chew on them.

Years ago, we learned not to use tinsel on the tree. Pets sometimes eat it, and it can harm their digestive system, by causing an intestinal blockage or by cutting the delicate tissues there. Either one could require surgery, and may threaten your best friend’s life.

We also learned not to hang delicate breakable ornaments on the tree’s lower limbs, where they can be knocked off (or batted off) and break or shatter, cutting your pet's feet. And if your dog crunches down on a glass ornament, again you might be headed to the veterinarian’s office.

If you have a cat that likes to climb, consider putting the tree in a room with a door to close when no one is there to monitor it. A friend suggested putting orange peels in a mesh bag underneath the tree – your cat will be put off by the citrus scent. A squirt of water from a handy spray bottle might also work.

If you have a real tree and use a stand that holds water, make sure your furry buddy does not try to drink it; it could contain dangerous chemicalsthat may harm your pet.

Other Christmas dangers include seasonal plants, such as holly, mistletoe and poinsettias, and burning candles left unattended.

Decorating with care and concern for your best friend’s safety can help make this Christmas a happy holiday for everyone in the family, especially when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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