If you have pets, chances are you already know how much of a hassle it can be to keep them away from your Christmas tree. I know I do!
Over the years, I’ve seen many a cat and dog enchanted by the glistening allure of a freshly decorated Christmas tree, adorned with what must be the most wonderful selection of chew toys, playthings, and shiny trinkets imaginable – truly a Christmas miracle!
Unfortunately, pets don’t always know what we know and are generally unaware of the dangers of playing with (or in) a Christmas tree and its assorted ornaments. Of course, if decorating safety matters to you, you already know that it’s important to keep your pets and your Christmas tree far away from one another.
Thankfully, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that have proven to be some of the best pet-friendly methods for keeping our canine and feline friends away from our beloved Christmas trees. While your mileage may vary (especially if your pet is stubborn), try these tips to keep your tree pet-free this holiday season.
Choose a pet-friendly location for your tree.
This may seem obvious, but it’s just as easily overlooked. When you choose a location for your Christmas tree, keep it away from “climbing items” – things like shelves, couches, window sills, and bookshelves. You want it to be difficult (or at the very least, unlikely) for your pet to jump into the tree’s branches.
Placing your tree in a corner is a good preventative measure in the case of a fallen tree. If knocked over, there’s a chance the tree will fall backward against one of the walls as opposed to falling on the ground when left out in the open.
You’ll also want to keep your tree away from the areas where pets sleep and play. Placing a tree in your pet’s favorite part of the home makes it look like it’s just another chew toy or kitty castle; avoid confusing your pets and put it in a room that’s not a pet playroom.
Of course, the absolute best way of keeping your pets away from your tree is to place it in a room that can be closed-off from the rest of the house. While it’s not always possible to do so, this does eliminate the problem altogether. Otherwise, try to keep your Christmas tree in a room or area that can be shut-off from pets at night, while you’re asleep, or while you’re away.
Plan for pets when decorating and choosing your decorations.
If you haven’t done it already, wait to decorate your tree. Set it up first, let your pet acclimate to its presence, and then decorate. This allows your pet to grow accustomed to the new tree and lose interest in it before you cover it with ornaments and decorations.
When you finally do decorate your tree, you’ll want to take certain precautions. For instance, don’t tempt your pet by teasing them with Christmas ornaments as though they’re toys; this will only encourage them to play with the ornaments when you’re not around (and maybe even when you are).
You’ll also want to use ornaments that aren’t as attractive to pets. If you can, avoid shiny, shimmery ornaments that blink, flash, and sparkle. Try not to use ornaments that hang low, wave, or dangle. Opt for plain ornaments with a matte finish. One of the best things you can do is place ornaments higher up in the tree, out of reach of your pets.
Some adornments should probably be avoided entirely. Tinsel, for instance, is shiny and stringy, making it a cat magnet. However, it’s terribly dangerous for pets, so keep it off the tree to make it less tempting to your feline friends.
Finally, you’ll want to manage any wires and power cables, keeping them wrapped and covered to prevent your pets from playing with them. You can even tape cords to the wall, if need be, to stow them neatly out of the way. To be extra safe, always unplug any lights at night and when you’re away from home.
Create a pet barricade using baby gates and aluminum foil.
Baby gates are another way to keep your pets away from the tree – especially smaller dogs and puppies.
Aluminum foil is also a mighty ally, as many pets aren’t particularly fond of it. This is especially helpful if you have cats, as they dislike the feel of aluminum foil on their paws and nails, which will prevent them from scratching and climbing your Christmas tree.
Try wrapping aluminum foil or tin foil around the trunk of the tree. If you want to keep your cat from wandering around the base of the tree, you can also try placing a skirt of aluminum foil around its perimeter, though this isn’t always the most attractive solution.
Use the power of citrus to keep your pets away from your Christmas tree.
Cats and dogs (for the most part) don’t much care for the smell of citrus, so placing some lemon or orange peels at the base of the tree, or using a citrus-scented deodorizer, will discourage them from playing in its branches.
I’ve read about a product called “Bitter Apple” that comes highly recommended as a pet-safe animal repellent. Bitter Apple works for both cats and dogs. I’ve also been told that citronella, citrus oils, or diluted vinegar can be very effective for the same reason. Likewise, they’re all harmless, so you don’t have to worry about dangerous chemicals affecting your pets.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to experiment and see which of these repellents works best for your cat or dog.
Did any of these tips work for you? What are your own tips for keeping pets away from your Christmas tree and decorations? Let us know in the comments!