A Christmas tree is the ultimate festive decoration, but they can actually pose a safety hazard to our curious kittens and probing pet pooches.
Our feline friends will often be drawn to the flashing fairy lights, glittery tinsel and sparkly Christmas baubles, while pet dogs are prone to knocking festive centrepieces over, gobbling up all the edible festive treats and even using Christmas trees as toilets. Oops!
A spokesperson for PurePetFood.com commented, “I’m sure we’ll all have heard 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 into the best ways to keep our beloved cats and dogs from damaging the trees – and themselves – over the festive period.”
And, if you’re excited to get your pets into the Christmas spirit too, check out our round-up of the best Christmas outfits for dogs that will make your pooch look even more adorable this year.
How to pet proof your Christmas tree
1. Opt for an artificial Christmas tree
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 this year.
2. Invest in a quality Christmas tree stand
A good quality, heavy Christmas tree stand will anchor your tree to the ground better than a flimsy, plastic one. As pet owners will know, our cats love to jump on Christmas trees and drag the whole display down with them.
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.
3. Start with a bare Christmas 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. Put fragile ornaments on higher branches
Pets’ paws and tails can be lethal to delicate Christmas decorations – but broken ornaments can also be dangerous.
To protect your pet from any potential accidents with broken glass, put fragile ornaments towards the top of the tree, or switch to plastic decorations altogether. Depending on how mischievous your pet is, you might want to leave the bottom third of the tree completely bare.
5. Skip the edible Christmas decorations
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 Christmas tree completely.
6. Be mindful of electrical cords and Christmas tree lights
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 for a cat proof Christmas tree.
A great way to keep cats in particular away from your tree is to use orange peel or citrus spray on or around it. It’s widely known that cats hate the smell of oranges or other citrus fruits, so this should cause them to steer clear.
8. Create an ‘alarm’
Place tin foil or a can filled with a few marbles on the tree’s bottom branches for a cat-proof Christmas tree. 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.
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 pawed at or drooled on.