Don’t Chop Down The Tree – Trim it Safely!
For many in our community this ritual happens every December: putting up the Christmas tree. It’s joyful and brings many happy memories and starts the holiday cheer. But beneath this green beacon lays a bit of a more sinister side for pets, especially cats. Let’s discuss Christmas Tree Safety for dogs and cats and exorcise these risks.
It happens every year to one of our clients – the tree falls over, all the ornaments break – and the cat was the guilty party. Be certain the tree has a very stable base, go bigger than you believe necessary. If a very tall tree, consider tethering the tree to the wall, too. If you have a kitten, consider a tabletop tree until kitten (or puppy) is old enough to not play with everything.
Sap and Water
The water a tree sits in can be toxic or cause vomiting and diarrhea. Simple solution: a high-quality tree skirt clamped to the tree base. It will protect the water from meeting their tongues.
Jumping off Points
Provide the tree with plenty of space – this will prevent the cat from climbing the bookshelf and dive-bombing the tree. It also gives the dog plenty of space to run around it without tipping it over. A corner space with at least 6 feet of clearance on either side should suffice. Unless you have a jungle cat.
Tie Down Those Ornaments
Nothing is like candy to a cat than swinging ornaments. Consider sparsely decorating the bottom third of the tree, keeping the ornaments a bit out of the dog and cat’s reach. Also consider clamping the ornaments with a small clamp or ornament wire. It will prevent treasured keepsakes from falling off and will prevent the cat or dog from accidentally damaging them.
Not Everything is Ornamental
Ornaments that are especially attractive to cats (shiny, swinging, etc) should be placed in the upper branches, far out of reach. Never use tinsel in a house with pets, you are asking for an intestinal blockage or other serious complication from being eaten. Catnip on a tree, again, trouble – never place ornaments with catnip on a tree! Food on the tree (popcorn, chocolate…): nope. Again, trouble. And candles – nope to the real ones. While we like chestnuts roasting, please don’t provide the opportunity to roast the cat or dog (or house!).
Electricity is Shocking
Be certain all electrical cords are well concealed. Taping them to the wall or floor may be of benefit. Do not leave any wires dangling – cats and dogs will want to play with them, may chew through them or may become entangled. Consider unplugging the tree when no one is around to watch it. Be certain that where they are plugged in is inaccessible as well.
A Few Avoidance Tips
Consider spraying any cords with Bitter Apple Spray (we have it at District Veterinary Hospital). Also consider placing citronella-sprayed pine cones around the base of the tree if you have cats. They hate walking on pine cones and citronella may be a good deterrent.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas from all of us At District Veterinary Hospital
dt,dvm – December, 2014