The holiday season is a time of joy, festivities, and, of course, beautifully adorned Christmas trees. While these festively decorated evergreen pines bring warmth and cheer into our homes, they can also pose a unique set of challenges for those with curious and playful pets. Pet-proofing your Christmas tree is essential to ensuring a safe and happy holiday season for everyone in your family, including your furry family members.

  • Secure your tree. Your tree should be stable enough so your pets cant accidentally knock it over, sending all your beautiful lights and bobbles to the floor. To prevent accidental toppling, use fishing line to anchor your tree securely to the wall, ceiling, or nearby furniture. Whether you are using a real or artificial tree, make sure to use a sturdy base or stand and consider weighing down the base to prevent tipping. Pet fences and gates are also an excellent way to keep cats and dogs at bay from your newly decorated tree, there are even a number on the market specifically for this purpose.
  • Consider going artificial. While theres a lot of general debate over whether its better to have a real vs. artificial tree, for households with pets artificial trees are often a safer option. Not only do artificial trees tend to be less appealing to nosey pups and curious kitties (less natural smells to entice them), they also come without the dangers of needles (needles can cause GI upset and even digestive puncture if ingested) and tree water (pets who drink tree water are in danger of GI upset or worse as this water is often treated with fertilizer additives and provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria).
  • Mind the lights. Prevent electrical accidents like shock, your pet becoming tangled in wires, or even fire, by ensuring all your lights are in good working order and by securing and tucking cords away and out of sight and reach to discourage pets from chewing.
  • Opt for pet-friendly decorations. Choose pet-friendly ornaments and decorations to adorn your tree. It is best to avoid using tinsel as it can cause intestinal irritation or even a blockage if ingested. Save any food products, like candy canes, sugar cookies, salt dough ornaments, or popcorn garlands for Santas plate and leave them off the tree. Many food items contain ingredients that are toxic to pets and any food on the tree will only serve as encouragement for your pet to explore. Its best to avoid edible items altogether. Opt for non-breakable, non-toxic ornaments that wont pose a risk to your pets if they decide to play with or knock them off the tree.

  • Hang fragile ornaments up high. While ideally, all your ornaments would be pet-friendly we all have a few of those very special, very fragile ornaments that we cant imagine celebrating Christmas without. Place any fragile or delicate ornaments on sturdy branches toward the top of your tree to avoid them being knocked off or broken.
  • Clean up and cover. If you do opt for a live tree, make sure to keep the tree water covered and dont allow your cat or dog to drink from it. As mentioned above, not only do people often use poisonous fertilizers in their tree water to lengthen the life of their trees, the stagnant water is also a breeding place for bacteria that may be harmful to your pet. To protect your pets, skip the fertilizer additives, freshen the water often to keep the needles from dropping, and make sure to clean up any fallen needles you see to prevent your pets from ingesting them.
  • Supervise, train, and distract. Keep a close eye on your pets, especially when you first put the Christmas tree up in your home. If necessary, you may wish to limit access to the tree by using pet gates or closing doors when you are not around to supervise. Invest some time training your pets to respect the Christmas tree. Reward them for good behavior around the tree and provide alternative distractions, like pet-friendly toys and treats, to redirect their attention away from the tree whenever they get a little too interested.
  • Save the presents for Christmas morning. Many families enjoy having presents around the tree in the days leading up to Christmas. Wrapped presents may contain food or other things that could be toxic to your pets. Bright and shiny wrapping paper and bows can also entice your curious kitty or playful pup to investigate and open a few packages early. It is safest to keep wrapped presents out of reach until its time to open them.

By taking these precautions you can enjoy a festive and safe holiday season with your pets. Pet-proofing your Christmas tree not only protects your decorations, more importantly, it ensures the well-being of your beloved furry companions during this special time of year.