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How to Pet-Proof Your Christmas Tree

More Christmas Tree Tips

It can be very difficult to keep a young, still-in-training pet away from the Christmas tree, particularly if this is his or her’s first Christmas. Even for an older pet, who may have learned not to jump on the tree — either because it fell on him last year or because your admonitions worked — you will still need to be cautious with the ornaments you place within his reach.

A live tree can be especially hazardous. Dogs and cats like to chew on sticks (i.e., limbs) and greenery, and the fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth tissue causing such symptoms as drooling and vomiting. Also, if your pet is chewing on the branches, there is a good chance he is also swallowing some of the needles. If enough needles are swallowed they can get caught in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining or bunching together and causing obstruction. Both can have deadly consequences.

A popular tree decoration called flocking, an imitation snow product, can also cause serious problems when significant amounts of it are swallowed. If you are going to have a tree in your home, it is best to at least get a non-flocked tree.

In addition, some trees are treated with chemical preservatives to keep them fresh longer. These chemicals leach into the water in the feeding dish, making the water poisonous to drink — which pets will do if the water is left uncovered. If you do not have a tree skirt to cover the water dish with, you can use towel, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.

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Decorating for the Winter Holidays When You Have Pets originally appeared on

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6:28PM PDT on May 27, 2013

Good to know all of this. Thank you.

10:20AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

my cat is evil to my tree

7:48PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

Good tips, thank you.

7:48PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

Good tips, thank you.

4:02PM PST on Dec 24, 2012

Hi Wyleen C. your cat Gizmo remembering me the one of seven cats of my neighbour. Unbeliveble.... Hope nothing bad happen during the winter holidays rondom the Christmas tree. Have a save Christmas! :)

10:27AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

thanks for sharing :)

2:45AM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Catherine, are the ornaments made of real straw? If so, there's your answer. If they're made of plastic, they could have corn starch in their coating. Cats love that (my younger cat has an awful habit of licking plastic bags - drives me crazy, trying to keep her away from them).

10:24PM PST on Dec 21, 2012

I got some Swedish straw snowflake ornaments recently that I thought would be great for the tree around my pets, being virtually indestructible. Dog chewed one, and the cats are licking them. What are they painted with that's so delicious?

9:27PM PST on Dec 19, 2012

Thanks for the tips....but is there really anywhere that would be visible to guests that is out of reach of a cat?!

4:45AM PST on Dec 17, 2012

thanks, not using a real tree - save the trees!

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