Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 2 – The Christmas Tree

A week into December and the beginning of the holiday season means Christmas trees. With all the excitement, all too often the last thing that is on anyone’s mind is the safety of their pets.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how careful we must be. Christmas trees and their decorations can be extremely hazardous for pets. We have provided some pointers on how to enjoy your Christmas tree whilst keeping your pets (and toddlers!) safe over the festive season. We don’t want any emergency vet visits over the holidays!

  • Place your Christmas tree in a broad, stable stand and attach the tree from the trunk securely to a burglar bar, hook in the wall or anything secure with something like fishing nylon that isn’t too visible. Some people even choose to place the tree inside a child’s play pen, but that’s a personal choice and not everyone has a child’s play pen around. Even though precautions may have been taken, always make sure that your pets are supervised when in a room with a tree.
  • Not many people know that pine tree needles can be toxic, contain traces of insecticides and cause mouth and stomach irritation. Even the needles and the wire of the artificial trees could pose a problem. Be sure your pet isn’t chewing on any branches or eating fallen needles.
  • Shiny and glittery tinsel is eye catching and very attractive to a curious pet. When eaten / swallowed, it can cause blockages which sometimes require emergency surgery to remove. Rather be safe and leave it off the tree altogether.
  • Angel hair and artificial snow are mildly toxic. If consumed in larger amounts, they too can cause a blockage of the intestine which is life threatening and often requires surgical intervention. We live in Africa where there is no snow in December, so our suggestion is to rather leave it off altogether.
  • Make sure that any electrical cords for the Christmas lights are tucked away behind furniture and out of reach. Chewing on electrical cords is common, especially with puppies / kittens and can cause major problems ranging from burned mouths, to electric shock and even death by electrocution. If you have larger lights on your tree, these can become very hot and also cause burns. It is best to unplug decorative lights when you are not in the room and encase exposed extension cords in PVC piping.
  • Those glass glitter balls on the tree may be beautiful, but they also look almost exactly like Fido’s favourite ball outside – well to him anyway. Dogs are often rushed into the emergency vet with serious mouth lacerations or worse – ingestion of glass, after playing with glass ornaments. Sharp ornament hooks can also become imbedded in your pet’s mouth, throat or stomach. Any ornaments that are shiny or could be swallowed or broken should be placed high up on your tree – well out of reach. Larger, less intriguing ornaments can go near the bottom.
  • Those chocolate decorations – snowmen, balls etc … gingerbread men, or any food decoration may be fun, but is asking for problems. Candy canes and gingerbread men can be as enticing to your dog as they are to children. This means that they can get amazingly creative in order to reach those delectable treats on the tree and you could run into, at best, tummy issues from candy / biscuits or worse poisoning from any chocolate, raisins etc … If your pet is a diabetic it could be fatal. Food is best left off the tree altogether.

With all of the festivities, do not forget to relax and spend some quality time with your family, which includes your pets. Your pets will think that is the best gift of all and will reward you with lots of love in return. We would like to wish everyone a peaceful and happy time over the festive season.

“Pet Safety At Home Over The Holiday Period Part 3 -  Gifts” follows tomorrow.

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