The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

Christmas Tree Safety for Pets

It’s time to get out the holiday décor! While decorating the house is a fun tradition for many families, we must remind pet owners that a festive Christmas tree may lead to a few potential pet dangers.

Placement and Securing the Tree

Placing your tree in a corner and securing it to the wall or ceiling will greatly reduce the risk of your pet knocking over your beautifully decorated tree. You should also use a heavy, wide-based tree stand to better resist tipping. Following these precautions will decrease the risk of injury from a falling tree as well as better protect your precious ornaments.

Protecting the Tree 
To prevent pets from climbing up or getting too close to your tree you could:

  • Wrap the trunk in tinfoil (animals dislike the way it feels).
  • Use “bitter apple spray” or citrus spray to discourage pets from wanting to lick, chew or smell the tree.
  • Spritz your pets with water any time they get close to the tree.
  • Make the water inaccessible by using a tight-fitting tree skirt. The water for your tree may contain harmful fertilizers and is a breeding ground for bacteria, which can make your pet very sick if he/she drinks it.
  • Keep your tree watered and clean up any fallen needles. Dry needles can be a fire hazard as well as make pets sick.

Decorating Safety Tips

  • Keep ornaments, decorations, and lights on the upper levels of the tree and avoid the use of any decorations that are potentially dangerous.
  • Glass ornaments can easily shatter and result in serious cuts as well as some life-threatening internal injuries if eaten.  Wood, fabric, and plastics are safer choices, but almost any object can become a choking hazard or an intestinal blockage if eaten.
  • Many cats love to play with strings. If eaten, strings can cause intestinal blockages that can only be corrected via surgery. Please refrain from using tinsel, popcorn on strings, or similar decoration. Also, don’t use strings, ribbons, and bows when wrapping presents.
  • Avoid putting food on your trees (e.g. popcorn) as this temptation will be too great for many pets.
  • Christmas tree lights are an electrocution hazard. Use short extension cords and tape them down to the floor and wall. Automatic shut-off extensions can also help prevent pets from getting electrocuted from any frayed/chewed-on wires. Make sure to turn off the power to your tree when you are not at home or any time you are not able to supervise your pets.
  • If you want to flock your tree, use animal-safe options only, such as desiccated coconut or fleece.

We hope you and your pets have a safe holiday season! If your pet does have an unfortunate Christmas tree experience (or any other type of emergency) and your family veterinarian is unavailable, both our Oakdale and Saint Paul locations are open 24/7 every day of the year, including holidays.

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