When you decide to “deck the halls” for the holidays, thinking about Christmas tree puppy safety is critical. Your puppy may believe the Christmas tree is a special gift just for his entertainment. The attraction is natural, as puppies want to chew branches, pull off decorations and worse. The result can be a holiday that’s anything but merry.
Puppies turn everything into a toy or game. The area under the tree creates a great puppy hideout. Tree ornaments that sparkle, move or make noises lure puppies to grab and chew; garland offers a great game of tug-o’-war; and the twinkling lights draw them to investigate or even chew, which can lead to electrical shocks. Trees end up toppled, presents and decorations damaged, and sometimes pets are hurt.
Young pups could also follow nature’s call and hike their leg the same way they’d mark an outside tree. The tree base may look like a drinking dish. If that tree water has additives like aspirin or other preservatives in it, puppies can get sick. Young pups during teething want to gnaw everything, and they may swallow inedible objects without meaning to. Ingested tinsel, tree needles, hooks from ornaments and other holiday décor can kill a pet.
Puppy Proof the Christmas Tree
First, make sure all breakables or dangerous ornaments and decorations are not on lower branches; situate them out of a pet's reach. Anything that fits in the puppy’s mouth is a potential hazard. Garlands, ornaments, strings or hooks, icicles and fake spray-on snow can cause problems. Edible strings of popcorn may look festive, but it tempts pups to munch and eating the string can kill your pet.
Keep Puppies Away
Next, keep puppies at bay and a safe distance from danger by making the area surrounding the tree unattractive or impassable. There are several options, and some work for certain pets and not for others.
- Aluminum foil is a great deterrent for tiny pups and cats since they dislike walking on that odd-feeling and sounding surface. Silver foil also offers a festive holiday look.
- The soft "tacky mats" available from home products stores designed to keep throw rugs from sliding around work well to keep some pets at bay because they dislike walking on sticky surfaces.
- Another option is Sticky Paws which is a double-sided tape product. Sticky Paws is available in larger sheets as well as strips that you can apply directly to carpets beneath the tree or wherever needed.
- Try the X-Mat Pet Training Mat from Mammoth Pet Products. These hard plastic mats with the uncomfortable nubby surface can be placed in “pet-free zones” such as around the Christmas tree, plants, furniture, or front door to keep pups at a respectful distance. You can also make something similar yourself using the clear plastic carpet runner/protectors placed nub-side up on forbidden zones.
- You can also use the pet's sense of smell to keep her away from the tree. Vicks Vapo Rub (menthol smell) may work as a pet repellent. Dip cotton balls in the ointment and stick in the lower branches of your tree. Bitter Apple or other nasty tasting substances help keep pups from chewing but don’t rely on any of these options entirely. Some dogs actually seem to like the flavor.
Create a Barrier
- Set smaller trees on table or counter top out of dog reach.
- Place your tree inside of an enclosure like those meant to be used as dog exercise pens.
- Block off the “tree room” with a baby gate.
Create a Puppy Holiday Tree
If you don’t mind having puppies turn your tree into a canine playground, make sure it is assault proof. Attach guy-wires or twine to prevent the tree from falling, and make sure the lower ornaments are pet safe. You could even offer the puppies a small tree of their own. Here’s how.
- Get rid of the lights and any materials that could be swallowed. Water your real tree with plain water or choose an artificial one.
- Decorate the tree with safe materials like nontoxic dried flowers or paper ornaments.
- Soft puppy toys with squeakers make great decorations for lower tree branches and won’t be destroyed during puppy play.
- Jumbo-size (too big to swallow) jingle bells offer movement and sound when hung from ribbon on a branch.
- Chews or puzzle toys stuffed with smelly treats can be placed around the base of the tree. That offers something for Junior Dog to smell and chew—safely.
Decorate with the pet in mind and you’ll keep the fur-kids in the family happy and safe.