Paw Squad Life

The Saga of the Christmas Tree

Yup, it has to be a real tree – no plastic or aluminum trees for this family! I grew up with allergic sisters and a Dad so we only had artificial trees. My grandmother even had a silver aluminum tree. That was fun to see the colors change with the four-color light wheel that rotated. But that tree lacked the smell and appeal of a real tree. But keeping a real tree healthy and upright in a busy household is a real challenge. I am sure you all have had the same experiences. I have learned a few tips about the safety of the Christmas tree around my pets, kids, and husband the hard way. On two occasions, I have had a fully decorated Christmas tree tip completely over – yes not once, but twice this happened. Wouldn’t you think I would have learned after the first time? I am smarter now.  The first time the tree went over, it was our chocolate Labrador Mocha who took it out – it was hard to tell if it was her mighty tail, or her curiosity of what was hanging on the branches. The second time, it was my husband Dan – who on arrival home, slammed the front door and the tree went over. What I learned was that tethering the Christmas tree to a plant hook secured in the ceiling with a toggle is a great fix. I wound wire around the top branch and wired the tree to the plant hook. Yes, you can still put your angel or star on the top of your tree. For the last 20 years, we gave up on a cut real tree and changed to a potted tree. We head to the tree nursery and pick out as big of a potted blue Spruce tree as we can lift with our crew. This tree can come into the house only for a few days. We have a little strand of lights and a few special ornaments we put up. It looks great outside decorated with lights before and after its short stint in the house. And it is soooo heavy, I don’t have to tie it up – it could not possibly tip over. Then after the ground thaws, we plant the tree near our pond in a row with the trees from previous years. Now we have a lovely row of Christmas memories we can see from our deck. Along with tethering, I have learned a few other Christmas tips for pets over the years. These include
  1. Wrap the cords for the lights in a corrugated cable cover to prevent pets from chewing through the cords and being electrocuted.
  2. Hang special ornaments at the top of the tree where they are safe from pets. No one wants a special ornament chewed up.
  3. Ideally, you don’t want your pet’s eating any candy decorations, but if you have a tradition of candy canes on the tree, remove the wrapper so if your pet does get a hold of it, the pet won’t end up with a cellophane blockage.
  4. Hang bells on the lower branches so you can hear your pets when they get too curious about the tree.
  5. Avoid using water additives to the tree water source which can be toxic to pets.
  6. Set up an exercise pen around the tree to protect the tree.
Have a great holiday season and enjoy the time you have with your family including your pets.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

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