Decorating for Christmas

Nov 28, 2015

This little furry guy is going to be trouble this Christmas!
Credit big presh (David Precious) [Flickr]

It is not easy to keep your pet safe from the dangers posed by the Christmas tree.  It may be best if the tree is in a room with a door that you can close, so your four-footed buddy cannot have unsupervised access to the tempting holiday decorations!


By now, many of the leaves have fallen off the trees around our house – several weeks ago we turned our clocks back – and we have celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. Yes, it’s already that time of the year when we start decorating for Christmas.

Do you have your tree yet? For years we have used an artificial tree because we don’t want to deal with falling needles and a tree stand with water full of preservatives which may poison our pets if ingested. We attached the base of our tree to a large board to help stabilize it. Before that we used fishing line to secure it to the wall, to keep it from falling over if an adventurous cat tried to climb it or a happy dog wagged its tail too much.

We used to put tinsel on the tree, but pets like to eat it. It makes for – shall we say – a “festive” litter box, but tinsel (and even ribbon) can cause serious, possibly fatal, problems for animals that swallow it.

Our pets have never bothered the Christmas tree lights, but we’re careful to run the electrical cords in such a way that they are covered and not accessible to a dog or cat that may want to investigate by chewing on them.

We’re also careful about how we hang the ornaments, especially those that break easily. Cats like to swat at the shiny ones, but can cut their feet on the shattered pieces. A dog may mistake a glittery ball for a toy, realizing too late that it can be a painful experience to crunch down on one. So the fragile ornaments go on the upper limbs, while soft and unbreakable ornaments are at the bottom of the tree.

In addition to an artificial tree, we also use artificial holly and mistletoe because the real stuff is poisonous. And while the poinsettia plant may not be deadly, munching on it could cause digestive problems which can make a pet miserable.

As you decorate for Christmas, consider ways you can make this a safer holiday for your furry friends, which will help to make it a happy holiday for everyone in the family – when you’re speaking of pets.