Decorating Tips for a Pet-Safe Christmas
Christmas trees and decorations are a lot of fun for everyone, but we need to be aware of the potential hazards to our furry friends and how to keep them safe. Here are some helpful tips to pet-proof your home this holiday season.
Let’s talk about your Christmas tree
Live or artificial trees for pets
Live Christmas trees can be the cause of:
Mouth and stomach irritation: the fir tree oils and sap can irritate the mouth and stomach causing drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea
Digestive/intestinal problems: pine needles are sharp and non-digestible, if swallowed they might puncture the mouth, throat or intestines, large amounts swallowed can cause an intestinal obstruction.
Don’t let pets drink tree water: the water in your tree stand may accumulate fertilisers, bacteria, sap, tree preservatives or additives that can be harmful to your pet.
Artificial trees can be an attractive and safer alternative:
The artificial leaves are less tempting to pets, but if chewed can have the similar consequences
Choose the tree location wisely
Strategic planning goes a long way in preventing holiday hazards. With that in mind, think about tree placement, consider placing it in a room that can be closed off from your pet when you're not around.
For some pups, simply placing a small fence or playpen around the base of the tree will prevent them from exploring and chewing when you’re not there to supervise .
And secure the tree
Find a sturdy and solid holder or anchor for your tree so it can’t be knocked over. Artificial Christmas trees usually come with a three or four-legged stand to keep the tree upright, but the stand probably won’t stop the tree from falling when up against the weight of your pet.
This is especially important for cat owners and playful or ambitious dogs. Even the most docile cat may be tempted to climb a Christmas tree because they might think there's a new toy just for them.
Apart from potentially injuring your pet, a falling tree might cause broken ornaments, spilled tree water, or other problems. Securing your tree helps prevent these risks.
Be careful with your Christmas ornaments and decorations
For maximum pet safety, don’t make it easy for your pets to reach ornaments, and avoid placing them on the lowest branches of your tree.
For pets, baubles can be easy to mistake as toys. That means the potential to shatter and cause cuts to the paws and mouths of dogs or cats, and if swallowed they can cause an intestinal blockage. Think about investing in shatterproof ornaments.
Tinsel can be a surprising danger to Australian pets because it’s fuzzy, sparkly, and looks like a lot of fun.
But, if ingested, tinsel can cause intestinal obstructions in both dogs or cats leading to potentially fatal consequences.
Like baubles and tinsel on your Christmas tree, Christmas lights can attract the attention of our furry friends and can be a serious threat.
If gnawed on, the lights or cord could be an electrical hazard causing electric shock or burns. Also, broken lights have sharp edges, and cords may cause a pet to become entangled.
Enjoy lights and electronics safely by keeping them out of your pet’s reach: Place them high up, avoid decorating the tree’s lowest branches, and use protective cord covers as needed.
Keep your Christmas presents out of reach
Wrapping paper and presents are tempting toys for pets because they’re a mysterious new addition to the house which make curious crinkly noises.
Though it’s cute to watch pets enjoy opening their presents, it’s best not to let them play with wrapping paper because it’s a choking hazard. In addition, ingested wrapping paper can cause blockages and other stomach problems.
Don’t put away the decorations and presents just yet though
Your pets and your Christmas decorations can live together in your home. With some simple steps and choices, you can decorate for the festive season without putting your pet’s health at risk.
Here are some of the simple tips to make your Christmas decorating pet-friendly:
Consider an artificial tree instead of a real one
Safely secure the tree and carefully consider its location. A barrier around the base of the tree may be a good idea for very curious pets, think about a room that can be easily closed off.
Choose Christmas decorations that don’t closely resemble your pet’s toys
Don’t decorate your tree with edible or scent-filled ornaments like candy canes
Keep the bottom of your tree (and anywhere your pet could reach) free of decorations and lights.
Consider not using tinsel, or keep it well out of your pet’s reach
Avoid using glass and crystal decorations on your tree to prevent the risk of shattering
For powered decorations, hide extension leads and other cords or use pet-safe cord protectors.
For very curious pets, wait until Christmas morning to put presents out
For further Christmas tips
Read 6 Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe At Christmas for more helpful tips.
With a bit of planning, everyone in the home, two-legged and four-legged, can enjoy the joys that Christmas festivities bring, with plenty of good fun and cheer.