Today I'd like to help you get your holiday tree ready. We commonly get emails and questions about how to have a pet-safe tree. You never know what cats will do when there's a new, fragrant tree in the house. I've seen cats come in with cuts in their mouth from biting into glass ornaments, injuries from a tree falling over on them, intestinal obstructions from eating items off the tree including tinsel, garland or ribbon on gifts... there are actually quite a few dangers associated with trees at this time of year.
Today, I want to give you a few tips on how to make your tree pet-safe. Before I do that, I want to tell you about my favorite thing to go on the tree. It is a keepsake ornament you can make with your pet's paw. I love this!
The Deluxe Pawprint Ornament Kit only takes minutes to create. It is great for kids or adults and is something you can keep forever.
It is very easy to use. Simply mold the clay into your desired shape (I make mine into hearts), press your pet's paw into the clay, then bake for 30 minutes. You will soon have a one-of-a-kind keepsake that you will cherish for years to come.
As far as the tree tips, take a few moments to go over some safety precautions before putting up your tree.
1. Choose the Right Spot. Pick an area where the tree can be enjoyed by the family but remains out of heavy traffic. A lot of activity near the tree can result in accidentally knocking it over. An area by a wall or in a corner is ideal, especially one which is out of the traffic flow pattern of the house. Try to place the tree near an outlet so you don't have to run electrical cords long distances.
2. Prepare the Area. If you have a live tree, you might need to use some extra precautions. Lay down plastic sheeting or buy a "tree bag" before setting it up. This is an extra large trash bag used for live trees. Center the tree on the bag. When the season is over and you have removed the tree ornaments, pull the bag over the tree. This will catch the pine needles as they fall from the tree - and prevent them from being chewed or swallowed by your pet.
3. Secure the Tree. Many trees have been sent swaying by a rambunctious cat or kitten. Cats can knock over a tree by rubbing against or playing under it. Plus, we all know how much cats LOVE to climb...and they don't know that the tree's not there for them. Pets can be injured if the trees or ornaments fall and break. You can place the tree in a corner and secure it from two sides to small hooks in the walls. Another trick is to place a small hook in the ceiling above the tree and use clear fishing line from the top of the tree to the hook. Apply gentle tension and tie. The clear line is invisible. While you're at it, make sure that the base of the tree is firmly secured and does not wobble.
4. Hide the Cords. Electrical cords are a grave danger to pets - especially kittens and cats that tend to chew on anything. Cords can cause electrocution and serious injury or even death. Secure the cords by positioning them higher than the pet can reach or hiding them with special covers.
5. No Hooks. Check your ornaments and replace hooks with a loop of string tied in a knot. Ornaments often fall from the tree and pets may catch their mouths on or swallow the hooks.
6. Choose Safe Ornaments . There is no perfectly pet-safe bulb, as any ornament can be ingested and cause an intestinal obstruction. Pet "safer" bulbs would be plastic or wood. Glass bulbs on the lower limbs can be especially dangerous. If broken, pets can step on them and cut their feet. Worse yet, they can even treat the bulbs like a ball and chew on them, causing them to break and result in mouth or throat trauma and bleeding. Many pet owners have learned the hard way not to place any ornaments on the lower limbs. Ornaments made of food may be especially attractive to pets, so beware of popcorn garlands and similar treats.
7. Ribbons. Big red velvet ribbons are a lovely addition to a holiday home. They're also a safer replacement for the tinsel and garland that can be eaten by dogs and get caught in their intestine. Cats are especially attracted to the bright shiny tinsel. Ingestion of this material can cause intestinal obstruction that may require surgery.
8. Presents. Cats love to investigate and most don't understand that the presents are not meant to be opened ahead of time. Gifts can be destroyed by a playful pet, and the decorative wrappings swallowed. Consider storing the presents in a safe area until right before the holiday or make sure your pet is always supervised while investigating and searching for his special gift.
9. Sweep and Water. Sweep up the pine needles. Ingestion of needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation. Keep the tree watered and only turn the lights on when you are at home. There is always a risk of fire with a live tree, so take extra precautions. Do not allow your pet access to the tree water, as drinking it can make them ill.
10. Supervise. The safest thing to do is to allow your pet access to the tree only when supervised. Pets that continue to bother the tree should be rewarded for playing away from the tree. (Now is a perfect time to offer them a great new toy to keep them occupied and out of trouble.) Bitter apple can be sprayed on low branches for persistent chewers.
I hope these give you some great tips. Many people love to decorate their trees and remember how and where they got their ornaments. I cherish certain ornaments like the pawprint ornament.