Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

Your beautiful Christmas tree poses many unforeseen dangers to your pet, starting with the water. Pets have a much lower line of sight, and to them, a bowl of water in a bowl of water, whether there’s a Christmas tree in it or not. The problem is that pine sap mixed with water, fertilizer, and additives make that Christmas tree water toxic to your pets. Also, stagnant or long-standing tree water can harbor millions of bacteria, which, if ingested by your cat or dog, will cause nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

  • To solve this problem, be sure to use a water container that doesn’t allow your pet’s access to take a drink. Such containers are usually available wherever trees are sold.
  • Christmas tree needles, live or artificial, are toxic, sharp, and indigestible. They can get painfully lodged in the esophagus or intestines.
  • Christmas tree lights can cause electrical burns, choking, or electrocution if pets play with or chew on them. Be sure to turn off all Christmas lights when you’re not around.
  • Decorating the Christmas tree requires creativity. Having cats or dogs in the household adds a whole new factor to the equation. Shiny glass ornaments, angel hair, twinkling lights, gold tinsel, and icicles are all irresistible toys for cats and dogs. Everything on the bottom third of your tree is up for grabs. Sharp breakable ornaments, small dreidels, ribbons, bows, ornament hooks, tinsel, and icicles are all very dangerous to pets. Every year, some poor cat or dog actually ingests a broken glass ornament, only to seriously lacerate the inside of their mouth, stomach, and intestines. Even wrapped candy canes can be ingested, causing serious problems.
  • One solution is to decorate the bottom third of your tree with items less likely to cause trouble, such as wooden, metal, or resin-cast ornaments. Hang your treasured baubles high on the tree where they won’t get knocked down and broken or, worse, eaten by your cat or dog. I’ve been to homes where trees could win prizes incorporating these ideas, so be creative and just keep your cat or dog in mind when you decorate that tree.
  • Last but not least, make sure to secure the tree to a wall or ceiling, as cats and dogs are notorious for knocking that well-adorned tree right over. Falling Christmas trees not only hurt pets but can create a potential fire hazard as well.