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Holiday Issues To Avoid With a Pet in the House

Some holiday pet dangers are obvious. Some take a bit of thought to anticipate but can still represent a threat.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year. But whether you cut your own Christmas tree, make your own menorah candles or visit Wal-Mart for a sprig of sage, the holidays can be surprisingly tricky if you own pets.

Christmas trees and cats are among the most widely known issues, spawning an entire industry of Facebook videos.

Most of the time it can be good fun, but sometimes the results can be serious.

Let’s start with Christmas trees. Tree catastrophes are associated most often with cats, but dogs, birds and other pets are also threatened and threatening when it comes to a Christmas tree in their home.

Chewing or eating pine needles or ornaments, dangerous entanglement in decorations, even knocking over a tree and hurting both themselves and the holiday are possibilities. You can protect your pet and avoid a lot of trouble with a little planning.

Oh Christmas Tree!

The first thing to consider is the tree itself. Buying a smaller tree and placing it on a table is one solution that might be considered for some. Even cats, which might easily jump on the table, may be less interested in a holiday evergreen that is not on their immediate level.

Anchoring a tree to a nearby wall or window is another good idea. The most dramatic disasters occur when a dog or cat jumps, bumps or otherwise knocks a tree over, spilling ornaments, water and more. Simply tying a stout string to a nearby wall, window or doorframe may prevent this. Unless you’ve got a Great Dane, the cord doesn’t have to be thick and even fishing line works well and is not distracting. Another option, especially for smaller trees, is to duct-tape or otherwise attach the tree stand to a square of plywood (or a large tray) so that knocking the tree over is virtually impossible.

The type of ornaments you use may be a key factor as well. Shiny and fragile bulbs are asking to be knocked and broken. Metal ornaments, including bells, might be a better option. Strands of tinsel can be pulled down and chewed, even swallowed. Since they are plastic or metal, this can cause serious injury.

Ward Off Attacks!

Another option involves treatments that deter animals from “liking” the tree in the first place. Several commercial “cat off” or “dog off” sprays are available, but in some cases other options may work as well: most cats naturally hate the scent of oranges, so keeping orange peels under you tree may work. Small amount of Citronella oil shaken into a bottle of water and misted on to the tree makes it unpleasant for the cat, but citrus-like to you. A Scotch pine (with longer needles) may be less attractive to your pet than other species.

Don’t overlook your flying pets, either. Christmas trees are also attractive to many parrots and other birds. Depending on the size, weight and habits of your bird, some of the above may apply to he or she as well.

Beyond your tree, other holiday hazards involve the likely presence of sweets. Chocolates are widely known to cause problems for dogs, cats and other pets. So, too, can items as seemingly safe as grapes and some nuts. Even pudding and mince pies can be a pet poison. Many seasonal plants, including mistletoe, holly and poinsettia, can be poisonous or at least irritating to an animal that chews or eats them.

Most of these issues can be avoided with a little thought and planning. The holidays can be a great time for you and your pets, especially if you take a moment to look at things from their perspective!