Cat sleeping next to Christmas tree

How to Keep your Pets Away from the Christmas Tree 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December has just begun and it’s time to start putting up those decorations and constructing your tree. With pets that may just be a little tricky so this year let us help you keep your tree in tact by giving you a few helpful tips to keep your pets away and enjoy Christmas! 

Dangers of trees – 

It’s natural for your pet to be attracted to your tree, new smells, mesmerising lights and plenty of shiny ornaments that look just like their toys. It’s endless entertainment for them! To us Christmas trees are harmless, they look pretty and bring festive cheer, but to our pets they can be quite dangerous. Down below are some ways in which trees can be dangerous for your pets – 

  • Toxins – Real tree needles are mildly toxic and non-digestible, meaning once your pet chews or swallows them they can start experiencing drooling and vomiting.  Another potential toxin is the trees water, filled with preservatives and fertilizer it helps keep your tree fresh but it can be poisonous if ingested by your pet, again these can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and unconsciousness. If either of these scenarios occurs contact your vet for advice straight away. 
  • Sharp branches – Cats love to climb and dogs love to chew, these two behaviours don’t go well with a Christmas tree! As mentioned above tree needles can be toxic to animals but as they are quite sharp, they can also cause injury to your pet’s mouth and stomach. Cats are naturally attracted to trees seeing it as a big climbing frame, but this climbing frame can be dangerous. The branches are thin and spiky and the tree itself is very fragile, meaning you cat could be injured and your tree could end up all over the floor! 
  • Lights – Lights are a captivating. Chewing on lights and wires can be quite lethal for your pets, they can cause mouth burns, electric shock and even pulmonary edema, which is caused by the electrocution. Symptoms of pulmonary edema include wheezing, blue tongue/lips and collapsing, if you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet immediately and get to them seen asap. Another issue with lights is that your pets may become entangled in the wires causing injury and again could cause electrocution, if not secure.  
  • Decorations – Decorations are what make the tree festive but for our pets they can propose many dangers. Tinsel is one of the easiest decorations for pets to get a hold of and if ingested it can block their intestines, cause chocking, vomiting and diarrhoea, if you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet, surgery may be needed if large amounts are swallowed. Another decoration that is dangerous to your pets are ornaments, especially edible ones. Edible ornaments are normally made with salt dough or chocolate which are both toxic to your pets and can cause vomiting, dehydration and seizures, if your animal ingests any edible ornaments get them seen by a vet immediately, if they are left untreated it can be fatal.  

Ways to stop your pet from playing with your tree – 

Now we’ve discussed the dangers of Christmas trees, it’s time to look at some ways to help keep your pet safe and keep your tree up! 

  • Secure it – One of the best ways to keep your pet away from your tree is to enclose it, ideally you can place it in a room away from your pet. However; if this is not possible you could place either pet or baby gates around it to prevent your pet from reaching it. You could also secure your tree to the ceiling or wall or weigh the bottom of it down; this will help prevent your pet from pulling it over.  
  • Decoration – A good way to keep your ornaments safe is by placing them higher up on the tree, out of the reach from your pets. You should also choose to stick to non-edible and natural ornaments to prevent any injury or illness to your pet. With your lights ensure they are checked regularly and are secure, tape them down or use wire protectors to keep your pets from chewing on them and ensure they are turned off when you’re not around to prevent electrocution.  
  • Training – It’s always good to be able to teach your pet something new and putting up your tree is a great way to engage your pet and keep your tree safe. One way to train your pet to keep away from the tree is to create a negative association with it. You could place aluminium foil around the bottom which pets generally don’t like and won’t want to go near. With this you could also give commands like “no” or make noise to deter your pet away from the tree, once it has come away ensure to reward it. Another way to train your pet is to distract them from it, if your pet approaches the tree try to distract it with an alternative activity such as play or treats. Over time your pet will learn that keeping away from the tree will be rewarded.  

Top tips 

  • Use a tree skirt to hide the lights wires.  
  • Tightly secure all lights and ornaments to the tree. 
  • Use pet repellent sprays around the bottom (cats dislike citrus so placing orange and lemon peels round the bottom of your tree could help keep them away). 
  • Wait until Christmas morning to place presents under the tree. 
  • Always keep the area clear to prevent injuries and illnesses.