Yes, You Can Have a Christmas and a Pet! Smart Solutions to Keep Everyone Safe and Happy

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Tuesday, 28 November 2023 00:00

It's just a few days before Christmas and you STILL don’t have a tree. It’s your pets’ fault, right? We have one dog who thinks the Christmas tree is his personal urinal and another who thinks ornaments are tasty snacks, so we get it. But you don’t have to go without. You just need a smart tactic to outwit your animals. We have ideas.

Go faux

One of the problems with “real” trees is that “many have sharp needles that can scratch and puncture your pet's skin,” said Balsam Hill. “Natural pine needles are also mildly toxic to animals; they can be dangerous if your dog or cat gobbles them up. Felines also tend to think the tree trunk is a natural scratching post. These pets are often tempted to climb the whole tree when they feel playful, which not only damages the tree and ornaments, but also increases the chance that your whole holiday setup will topple over unexpectedly.”

An artificial tree should also, presumably, be less attractive to dogs who might think you brought the tree inside just for them…to pee on. We say presumably because it didn't stop our guy from lifting his leg.

Go small

As lovely as it might be to have a big, lush tree in front of the big picture window in your living room, you might just have to scrap that idea if there’s no way to properly secure it and/or keep your dogs out of harm’s way.

“Christmas movies use tipped-over trees as a comedic device, but there’s nothing funny about a falling tree indoors,” said Rover. “Invest in a quality stand to secure the base of the tree. To prevent possible injury to curious pets, place the Christmas tree in a corner and securely anchor it to the ceiling or wall. You can also create an ‘alarm’ to alert you if the tree is in danger: simply place aluminum foil or a can filled with beans on the tree’s bottom limbs. If your dog starts nosing around the tree, you’ll hear it in time to intervene.”

A tabletop tree (or, in our case, a countertop tree since one of the three dogs in this house CAN LEAP UP ONTO THE KITCHEN TABLE), may be your answer. Yes, it will be smaller, and yes, it might not feel quite as festive. But a smaller tree is better than no tree, and it certainly beats a $2,000 vet bill for surgical ornament removal from your dog’s stomach.

Go upside down

This has become a trend over the last few years, and Ariana Grande’s upside-down tree will probably cause a further spike in popularity. Mind you, her explanation was, “Sometimes life just be upside down,” but it would still make for a good pet-safe solution—and a conversation piece.

Go halfsies

This half-tree would probably be a no-go in our household as I’m pretty sure the above-mentioned pee-er would still find this an attractive urination spot. But, for those households for whom keeping the dogs and cats away from the branches and ornaments is the main issue, this may be a winner.

Go with smart décor

Keeping your important ornaments towards the top will help ensure that, even if your pets do mess around with the tree, your cherished items will stay safe. “Hang expensive and precious adornments in the upper two-thirds section of the tree,” said Balsam Hill. “Use the lower one-third section for shatter-proof pieces or for those pieces you can easily dispose of and replace, should an accident happen.”

Go food-free

“Although this tip for cat-proofing a Christmas tree may seem obvious, there are actually lots of food-related items that owners frequently miss,” said Petcube. “Hanging candy canes from limbs is a clear no no, but cinnamon sticks are another common decoration that can get overlooked. Although a little cinnamon is fine for pets and can actually help with inflammation, too much cinnamon can prove toxic, and it's not a good idea for a pet to chew a cinnamon stick. One of the most deadly food-related decorations that is frequently overlooked is salt dough. Made simply from salt, flour, and water, this dough is frequently used by grade school children for sculpture projects like ornaments. Drawn by the salt, cats and dogs eat these ornaments and are delivered a toxic level of salt and often proves fatal.”

Go with a cage

Now, this is a novel suggestion for keeping the tree safe from pets, and vice versa. If you have dogs and don't need to worry about them scaling such a tall tree, you can go with something a bit more modest, like this. (This also apparently keeps kids out, so bonus!)

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