This week many people will be putting up their Christmas tree for the festive season, but for pet owners, it can be a bit problematic. You’ve probably seen the hilarious pictures online of people taping their trees to the ceiling or removing all but the top two branches to avoid any canine or feline mishaps.
But there is a very real danger with Christmas trees. Not only can they fall over or catch fire, but the decorations themselves could also be poisonous and present a choking hazard.
Home and garden experts at GardenBuildingsDirect.co.uk have revealed their nine key tips for preventing cats and dogs from destroying festive centrepieces this Christmas. A spokesperson for the company says, “They look fantastic, but breakable ornaments and electric lights on Christmas trees pose serious hazards to cats and dogs.
“We’ve heard all sorts of horror stories about pets eating parts of branches or decorations, getting spiny needles stuck in their paws, or pulling trees down and hurting themselves in the process.
“So, to avoid any casualties and hefty vet bills, we’ve looked in to the best ways to keep our beloved cats and dogs from damaging the trees – and themselves – over the festive period.”
Nine ways to pet-proof your tree
1 – Invest in a quality stand
A good quality, heavy stand will anchor your tree to the ground better than a flimsy, plastic one. You could even go the extra mile by looping some fishing line around the top of the tree and tying it to a small screw in the ceiling. This will keep it from tipping over if your naughty pet gives it a bump.
2 – Go fake
Real Christmas trees have sharp needles which could easily get stuck in your pet’s paws. So to avoid any casualties, stick to artificial trees.
3 – Start with a bare tree
Before you start decorating your Christmas tree, simply assemble it and leave it up a few days. This will help your pet get used to having it in the house, and they’ll be more likely to leave it alone once it’s covered in lights and baubles.
It also means that if they do end up knocking it over whilst they familiarise themselves with it, you won’t have to spend hours picking up all your decorations and putting them all back on the branches.
4 – Create an ‘alarm’
Place tin foil or a can filled with a few marbles on the tree’s bottom branches. If your dog or cat starts nosing around the tree, you’ll hear it in time to intervene. Most cats dislike the sensation of tinfoil on their claws too, so they’ll be much less likely to attempt to climb it.
5 – Put fragile ornaments on higher branches
Pet’s paws and tails can be lethal to delicate Christmas decorations – but broken ornaments can be dangerous for cats and dogs too.
To protect your pet from any potential accidents with broken glass or the like, put fragile ornaments towards the top of the tree, or switch to plastic decorations altogether. Depending on how mischievous your cat or dog is, you might want to leave the bottom third of the tree completely bare.
6 – Be mindful of electrical cords
Bright, shiny lights are hard to resist for cats and dogs, but they can be really dangerous. Not only can your pets get tangled up in the wires, but if they like to chew there’s also the risk of electrical shock.
So, if you must put lights on your tree, leave the bottom few branches bare and make sure you secure the cords leading to and from the tree. You can hide them with a tree skirt or use cord clips to keep them off the floor and out of reach.
7 – Skip the edible decs
Candy canes and chocolate decorations are just asking to be devoured by your four-legged friends – but these sweet treats can be extremely dangerous to pets. So, it’s important to keep these products completely out of reach of cats and dogs, which may mean leaving them off your tree completely.
8 – Deterrents
A great way to keep cats in particular away from your festive centrepiece is to use orange peel or citrus spray on or around the street. It’s widely known that cats hate the smell of oranges or other citrus fruits, so this should cause them to steer clear.
9 – Save the presents until Christmas morning
To keep your Christmas gifts safe and protect your dog from chewing or eating something they shouldn’t, simply don’t put presents under your tree.
Hide them in a safe place and bring them down on Christmas morning or late Christmas Eve, so you don’t have to present loved ones with gifts that have been clawed at or drooled on.