Christmas Tree and Holiday safety for pets

Posted by Jennifer on December 12th, 2011

xmas-kittenWhen the weather outside is frightful… is a Christmas tree inside so delightful? Not for your pets unless you understand the dangers that Christmas Trees can be for pets! Pine trees and pine needles can be toxic if ingested, but even more commonly pets – especially cats – seem to be fascinated by the water in the tree’s stand. Many will drink out of it, and then become violently ill because of not only the toxicity of the pine sap, but because of the fire retardant that is sprayed on almost all real Christmas trees (unless you’ve cut it yourself). And they don’t have to drink the tree water to get sick — even just pawing at or rubbing against the tree while exploring around and under it, like to investigate those fun ribbons you’ve decorated your presents with, will rub the toxins off on their coats. Cats especially, but dogs too, lick themselves to groom and will lick the toxins off themselves. And that is only the beginning of the dangers of Christmas trees and the holidays for our pets! Read on for more safety tips to keep your dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets safe through the holiday season.

  • Christmas Trees: KEEP PET OUT OF THE ROOM with the tree. Fake trees are safer, but needles and decorations can still be ingested. Close your pets out of the room with the tree, or surround the tree with a pet-proof playpen fence – you can decorate it too, and the brass-colored ones look very festive!. Do not  allow pets to come in direct contact with the tree, ever.
  • Christmas Tree water: COVER completely with tin foil, so that if a pet happens to get into the room by mistake, they cannot drink or play in the water.
  • Pine needles: sweep them up daily to avoid tracking them into areas where you have your pets. Pets really do eat them – even the fake tree ones – and they can cause an intestinal blockage or puncture, not just painful, but potentially fatal… or thousands of dollars at the ER vet.
  • Decorations: keep them out of reach of pets, especially holiday lights. Cats and rabbits often love to chew on string-like things, including electrical cords. Use strong tape or computer cord covers (i.e. plastic tubing) to completely cover cords and firmly attach them to flat surfaces, so pets cannot possibly chew them.
  • Tinsel: There is just no way to make this popular decoration pet safe. Do not use tinsel!
  • Holiday plants: Poinsettia and other popular holiday plants can be toxic, and often very attractive for pets to nibble on. Keep them outside away from pets, or gift them to people without pets. Use fake versions made out of fabric instead – they will last for many years and are very hard to differentiate from the real poisonous plants.
  • Candles: Kittens and cats who have never seen candles are often drawn to putting a paw in the flame. Ouch! Use enclosed latern-style candle holders to keep kitten mittens safe.
  • Ribbons and bows: felines find these so enticing, and they can be fun for supervised play, but put them out of reach inside a cabinet or drawer when you’re done. Or better yet, give them a safe crumpled up ball for wrapping paper instead!
  • Gifts: Ooooh what’s in that box? You may not know what is inside a wrapped gift, but dogs noses know, especially if it is food – and it could be potentially fatal if its a gift box of chocolates, nuts, etc. Keep unknown gifts in a closet until it is time for them to be opened – by you, not your pets!
  • Visitors: Fun for you, but sometimes frightening or overwhelming for your pets. Also comings and goings of visiting family and friends can mean stressed out pets may make a rare bolt out the door. Keep pets in a secure area, like a quiet room with a closed door, when visitors are in your home.
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