The holidays are an exciting time to immerse yourself in the good cheer of the season.
You spend time decking the halls and laughing with loved ones. For many, picking out the perfect Christmas tree and making it sparkle with lights and ornaments is a highlight of the holiday season.
It's a great way to bond with family and friends and share Christmas traditions. You can't wait to place the tree topper that's been in the family for 40 years, or hang the porcelain ornament that's been passed down five generations in the most central spot.
Getting all caught up in the joy of decorating your tree may leave you unaware of the potential hazards they may present if you're also a pet owner. Whether you're a cat lover or are on team puppy, make sure your family pets get to enjoy the holidays as much as you do. Here are a few precautions to be aware to ensure pet safety this Christmas.
Anytime anything new comes into your apartment, your cat or dog is going to be curious. “What's that?" they wonder as they wander up to sniff, paw at or even try to bite the unknown item.
This is fine in most cases, especially if you're around to monitor the situation, but Christmas ramps up this issue to its maximum. It's not just one new item, but quite a few hitting them all at once for a curiosity overload.
“Perhaps the epicenter of holiday danger for your pet is the Christmas tree," says Cricket Lee from dogtime. “Failing to pet-proof the 'O Tannenbaum' could result in upset stomachs, painful injuries, catastrophic veterinary bills or even tragedy this Christmas season."
Don't stop at your Christmas tree, though, when considering your pet's well-being during the holiday season. Here are a few ways to keep your tree and pets safe.
Particularly important for cat owners and those with jumping pups, you need to secure your tree. You want to invest in the right tree stand, one with straps, ratchets or a clamping system to hold the tree straight, according to Ursula Klawitter from Reader's Digest.
For extra stability, you can even consider weighting your tree or tethering it to the wall or ceiling. If not properly anchored, even if it looks sturdy, one bump or jump by a curious cat or dog could cause the tree to fall over. Not only can this injure you or your pet, but it can lead to shattered ornaments and the loss of irreplaceable holiday items. There's only so much super glue can do after an accident of this kind.
A sure-fire way to keep your tree from falling over is to keep your pets away from it. If you can't set up your tree in a room you can close off to your pet when you're not home, consider a few baby-proofing strategies.
A baby gate or plastic pen can create a permanent barrier between your pet and your tree. Your pet's size and whether they're a jumper will make the difference if your barrier will hold, so don't invest time in this strategy unless you think it's going to work.
When in doubt, build a wall with presents to keep your animals away.
If you have a live tree, keeping it watered often means the excess pools at the bottom of your tree stand. This is harmless enough when it comes to spills, but pesticides and fertilizers from the tree may run into this stagnant water, creating a dangerous drink for your pets.
Stomach issues and nausea can result if your furry friends decide to take a sip from the Christmas tree water. If you notice your pet getting a little too close to the tree's water, consider keeping them in a separate room when you're not home. This curiosity can also lead to a tipped over tree, creating a sick pet and a big mess that nobody wants to deal with during the holidays.
Curious noses and paws can get tangled in the wires of Christmas lights, creating an electrical danger to furry friends. Ornaments can be choking hazards. The more delicate ones have the added hazard of easily shattering when played with, puncturing paws, mouths or intestines. It's best to make it hard for pets to access both of these dangers by taking these precautions:
If ingested by your pet, tinsel can cause a stomach blockage that may require surgery. It's also one of the most common temptations, especially for kittens and pups. “Cats and dogs — particularly younger animals — are inquisitive, and the holiday season brings all kinds of new things into the household, from trees and decorations to packaging and new foods.
All of these have their own inherent dangers, but none are as common of a pet safety risk as tinsel," says Dr. Sandra Michell, DVM on PetMD. To avoid a Christmas trip to the veterinary emergency room, make sure any tinsel used to decorate is completely out of reach to all your animals.
Just like tinsel, the sparkle of all the wrappings that make your gifts look so enticing can pique a pet's interest. Eating these materials can be dangerous to their health due to the chemicals that are often in them. Tape and scissors also pose a threat to your pets.
Make sure you wrap gifts in a pet-free zone and clean up really well before you let your dog or cat back into the space. Consider running the vacuum to make sure all paper scraps are up. If you can't keep your pets away from the base of your tree, you may want to display your gifts up high until Christmas morning or pile them up in laundry bins or larger cardboard boxes to make them less accessible to pets. It may not look as pretty, but it keeps everyone and all your gifts safe.
Taking precautions like these during the holiday season can help prevent a Christmas tragedy for you and your furry friends. By putting in a little extra time securing your tree and being more methodical when placing your decorations, you can focus on what you really want to do this Christmas. Relax and enjoy your loved ones, human, feline and canine alike.