How to Pet Proof the Christmas Tree: Hints to Prevent the Dog or Cat from Ruining Holiday Decorations

Each holiday season, hundreds of pet owners end up with toppled Christmas trees, broken ornaments, damaged holiday decorations, and sick or injured cats, dogs, birds and other pets – all because the cat couldn’t resist the temptation to climb the Christmas tree and the dog couldn’t resist the urge to chew on the Christmas tree branches.

The home poses an array of holiday hazards for pets, but fortunately, there are a few safeguards that pet owners can take to prevent the pets from knocking over the Christmas tree, breaking ornaments, chewing on the tree branches, clawing the Christmas light cords and other potentially dangerous antics.

Consider the following tips to keep the holiday ornaments, decorations and pets all in one piece this holiday season.

Tether the Christmas Tree

Dog and cat owners should take the time to tether their Christmas tree. Tethering the Christmas tree will cost about $10 to $15 in materials and it will take about 15 minutes to complete. Tethering the Christmas tree involves securing the tree in an upright position using wires that run from the center of the tree to hooks mounted on the wall.

A homemade Christmas tree tether will prevent cats, dogs and children from knocking over the tree, causing irreparable damage to ornaments and even the tree in a few cases. A toppled Christmas tree can also injure pets and children, so taking a few minutes to tether the tree can save a lot of aggravation and inconvenience for everyone involved.

Once the tree is tethered, place gifts (even fake gifts) at the base of the Christmas tree to prevent the cat from accessing the tree trunk – if the cat can’t access the tree trunk, then he can’t climb the Christmas tree!

Use Baby Gates to Limit a Pet’s Access to the Christmas Tree

Many dog owners fail to realize that their dog can knock over the Christmas tree quite easily. And while the dog won’t try to climb the Christmas tree like the cat, a good swift bump into the tree base is enough to knock ornaments off the tree limbs and even topple the entire tree in some cases.

It’s not just playful, energetic dogs who pose a danger to the Christmas tree. A dog who likes to chew the Christmas tree branches can end up with vomiting, diarrhea and a very upset stomach. Some dogs even like to play “tug of war” with the Christmas tree branches – and the dog almost always wins, knocking the tree over and breaking holiday ornaments in the process.

Avoid all these holiday hazards by using baby gates to limit access to the room where the Christmas tree is located, and only permit access to the area when a human is available to supervise the pet’s antics.

Another great but slightly more expensive option involves placing a dog playpen around the Christmas tree. These metal mesh panels can be purchased individually or as a unit, allowing pet owners to create a pen around the Christmas tree, preventing the dog from bumping into the tree, chewing on the limbs, breaking the Christmas tree ornaments and messing with the Christmas presents.

Use Pet-Friendly Ornaments and Holiday Decorations

Consider these additional pet-friendly holiday decorating tips, to help limit the number of holiday hazards that a dog or cat must contend with:

  • When decorating for the holidays, avoid placing breakable glass ornaments on the lower limbs of the Christmas tree.
  • When placing a glass or other fragile decoration on a hard surface, use poster putty to secure the decoration in place. This will prevent breakage due to a curious cat, playful dog or mischievous bird.
  • Avoid tinsel or “icicles.” Tinsel, also used in gift bags on occasion, can cause serious digestive problems for dogs, cats, birds and other pets. And unfortunately, tinsel is very tempting to pets.
  • Unplug all decorations when not in use and inspect all cords before plugging in Christmas lights, electric candles and other electric holiday decorations. Pets may claw or chew on the cords when not in use, creating a fire hazard when the item is plugged in again.
  • Do not leave candles unattended when pets are present in the household, as this could lead to injury or start a fire.