Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pets and Christmas trees: How to reduce holiday hazards for your dogs and cats

This Christmas tree is a safe option for Liam the pug

Christmas trees can be dangerous for dogs and cats. Curious creatures can climb on the trees and knock them over, breaking bones in the process and scattering shards of glass about. Pets can nibble on the branches. Since both live and artificial trees are typically not digestible, this can lead to vomiting or gastric blockages. Preservatives used in the water of live trees can also be toxic to pets.

After consulting this laundry list of worries, I decided to stop bringing any sort of full-sized tree into my home. The holidays are stressful enough without the worry (and expense) of emergency veterinary visits.

Instead, I use this vintage ceramic tree (which was an eBay find).

It's small (Liam is shown here as a size reference), so I keep it on a high table, away from curious pets. I spray the cord with Bitter Apple periodically, to keep the cats from chewing on the cord. I only turn the tree on when I am home and can keep an eye on it.

When I feel the urge to see a full-sized tree in all its glory, I take Liam for an evening walk and look at the trees that light up my neighbors' windows. Liam gets an extra walk out of the deal, and I get to enjoy the holiday scene. Everybody wins!