Animal Friends Blog
A Christmas tree may be nice to look at but sometimes our pets don’t understand that interacting with it is probably not a very good idea. Letting your pet have unsupervised access to your Christmas tree can be dangerous so we have some handy hints to ensure there are no pet-and-tree dramas in your household this Christmas. Whilst older pets may be wiser to the perils of Christmas trees, younger pets who might be new to the household need to be taught that messing with the tree could result in trouble!
Here are a few things to consider:
Toxic if ingested
Try not to let your pet chew on the tree. Real or fake, all trees can be poisonous to your pet if they chew, eat or swallow any of it. The needles of real trees can be harmful to your pet as they are not easily digested. There are oils in the needles that can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach which may result in excessive drooling or even vomiting. It is also possible that the tree may be treated with harmful sprays such as fire retardant, fertilisers or insecticides. Fake trees can be equally harmful; the artificial material of which they are made may be toxic, and it also may not be digestible, therefore causing an obstruction in the digestive system. Be aware that real trees which need to be watered will carry any chemicals on the tree down into the drip tray – so mind that your pet doesn’t drink the water either. A tree skirt may be useful to prevent your pet from accessing the water.
Both trees, real or artificial, can be fire hazards. So keep them away from candles and fire places. Electric wires also have the potential to spark a fire if the electrics go faulty, so ensure that all cables and wires are neatly put out of your pets’ reach too.
Some decorations may be harmful so take care where you put them. Your pet may be tempted to chew on them. Things like chocolate baubles, tinsel and imitation-snow can be toxic to your pet so it is best to either avoid using them, or make sure you put them where your pet cannot reach them. Sharp decorations – glass or pointy ones – could also wound your pet. Also, your pet may get tangled up in lengths of tinsel, ribbons, string and fairy-lights, putting them at risk of strangulation. Remember that the presents and wrappings under the tree can also be hazardous.
Make sure the tree is stable or set firmly in place so that it cannot fall over. You will need to brace the tree against possibly toppling over as a result of your pets knocking and bumping into it, whether it be in a bout of play or just simply by walking past. Cats in particular might be tempted to climb up it, as is their nature. Sometimes installing a baby gate might prove useful in helping to keep your pets away from the tree.
It is a good idea to let your pet have some time to get accustomed to its presence. As a Christmas tree is something we only put up briefly once a year, depending on how big and intimidating the tree is, your pet may cower away from it. Allow your pet the chance to get familiar with it so that your pet knows the tree is nothing it needs to be afraid of. At the same time however, it is also good to guide curious pets away from the tree. They need to understand the concept, ‘watch’ but ‘do not touch’.
So hopefully, bearing these pointers in mind, your household can ensure that all pet-and-tree hazards could be happily avoided, and Christmas can proceed in harmony.
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