In many homes, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree is the undisputed centerpiece of holiday decorations. Unfortunately, the garlands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments are just as attractive to pets, but can be dangerous if cats and dogs decide this unusual tree is a new and fascinating toy. There are several ways you can keep your pets and tree apart, however, without harming either one.
Dangers of Christmas Trees
Despite their beauty, Christmas trees hide some very ugly dangers to pets, such as:
- Shocks or electrocution from chewing on light cords
- Injuries from sharp needles or illness from toxic oils in the needles
- Sticky sap stuck in fur
- Cuts or other injuries from broken ornaments
- Illness from drinking the tree's water
Because of these hazards, it is best to keep pets and Christmas trees as far apart as possible.
Keep Pets and Christmas Trees Apart
Depending on your pet's temperament and the type of Christmas tree you have, there are a number of ways you can discourage cats and dogs from molesting the tree.
- Put the tree in place several days before decorating it to allow the pet to get used to it. If their curiosity is satisfied, they will be less likely to play with the tree.
- Position the tree away from a pet's familiar areas, such as their feeding bowls, bed, or play areas. Also keep the tree away from shelves or furniture that can be convenient perches for a pet to jump into the branches.
- When decorating the tree, let your pet see or sniff the decorations so they are familiar with them, but do not shake them or tempt your pet with the ornaments and garlands, or they may believe the decorations are new toys.
- Avoid the most tempting ornaments altogether. Dangling, glittering, or moving ornaments will attract your pet's attention, as will any food ornaments such as popcorn strings, cinnamon cutouts or candy canes.
- Place a plastic chair mat, prickly side up, under the tree to discourage your pet from walking under the branches. Tin foil can also be used under the tree or wrapped around the lower part of the trunk to discourage pets.
- If you are using a real tree, cover the water dish to keep your pet from taking a drink, especially if you use any additives in the water to extend the tree's life.
- Use a spray bottle and a firm "No!" to train your pet to stay away from the tree. Citrus, vinegar, or bitter sprays at the base of the tree can also be useful, as pets will avoid the smell.
- Put the tree in a room that can be closed off from your pet, or use a baby gate to block the entrance and keep pets away. Another option is to use a decorative fence, like styles used in flowerbeds, to create a barrier around the tree.
- Opt for a smaller, table-top tree that can be positioned out of a pet's reach on a small table or bench. It will be easier to keep pets away from the tree if it is not on the floor.
- Provide additional activities for your pet, such as new toys or other attention, to distract them from the tree. If they are bored or stressed, they will be more likely to take their frustrations out on your Christmas tree.
The best way to keep pets away from Christmas trees is to use as many techniques as possible to discourage their interest. Every pet is different, but with enough deterrents in place, any pet can learn that a Christmas tree isn't meant for them.