If your dog or cat is young, or inquisitive, or if you’ve had pets for any length of time that included a Christmas holiday, you’ve probably witnessed the allure of the recently installed Christmas tree, especially if you’ve managed to get the lights and decorations up. Cats especially seem to be unable to resist the allure of the Christmas tree.

One particular concern for a pet owner is whether the tree might make Fido or Fluffy sick. According to several sources, the real fir trees that many homes use each year can be considered mildly poisonous to animals. Whether it’s the needles that a pet might ingest in their curiosity about the new addition to your household, or the oils in the needles and the bark that a pet owner is concerned about, there are good reasons for concern.

Reasons to be Concerned About Your Pet and the Christmas Tree

Hartz notes that the oils in the needles and bark can irritate an animal’s skin, particularly around the mouth, or even inside the body. The needles don’t break down like other things that a dog or cat might eat. Instead, they might get stuck in the intestines or cause other medical issues.

5 Tips to Pet-Proof the Christmas Tree and Other Decorations

Just because you have pets and concerns about the decorations doesn’t mean your pet can’t coexist with your tree. Here are a few tips we’ve found at Raleigh Pawz that come in handy this time of year.

  1. Consider swapping a fake tree for a real fir tree.
    For many families, a real tree is a staple this time of year, but if you have a pet that just won’t do what you want him or her to do, there’s always the option to use a fake tree. This eliminates the two biggest concerns of some pet owners: exposure to the oils in the fir trees, and the potential for the animal to ingest the discarded needles. You’ll want to check out your tree each year, because they become brittle with age, and could break and create potential hazards for your pets.
  2. Use a tree skirt to cover the bottom of the tree.
    Not only does this gather up the needles as they fall, but a tree skirt can also keep your dog or cat from drinking the water you’ve been putting into the base of your tree to keep it looking healthy and beautiful this time of year.
  3. Use plastic ornaments whenever possible.
    The biggest drawback to ornaments made of glass is that they are made of glass and are breakable. If you have a pet who is fascinated with the tree, that spells a potential disaster with your well-loved ornaments and a mess if they’re successful in their explorations of the tree.
  4. Hang your ornaments high in the tree.
    If you’re not using plastic ornaments, it’s better to hang them up a bit higher. This way the inquisitive and reaching cat doesn’t swat the ornaments; the dog’s tail doesn’t swish and knock your ornaments off either.
  5. Skip decorations like holly, mistletoe and poinsettias.
    These may be gorgeous plants that brighten your home this time of year, but they are unhealthy if your pet gets to them. For both dogs and cats, the saponins in the root of the holly plant is particularly worrisome. The leaves and berries may be lower in these toxins, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.  As for mistletoe, it’s the chemicals present in the seeds, like Toxalbumin and viscumin. Poinsettia leaves have something inside them called Irritant Sap, which is poisonous for both dogs and cats.

If you’re looking to simplify your holiday season and need a little help with your furry friends, the team at Raleigh Pawz offers mid-day dog walks or pet sitting services. If you’re looking to simplify your holiday season and need a little help with your furry friends, the team at Raleigh Pawz offers dog walking and pet sitting services. Schedule your services today!