Putting up the Christmas tree each year is a job for all the family. While many will debate whether to place a star or a fairy on the top, MedicAnimal, the UK’s leading pet healthcare retailer, has put together some considerations on what else you need to think about if you have pets at home.

Andrew Bucher, Chief Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal, commented: “Christmas trees are the centrepiece of our homes during the festive season, but they can also lead to needless and harmful injuries to our pets. Whether you buy a real or fake tree, please consider their safety, as well as your own.”

Where do you put the tree?

  • Look to place it ideally in a corner and somewhere where it is not ‘centre stage’
  • If possible, fence off your tree and secure it firmly.
  • If your pet is likely to jump onto your tree, place obstacles around the base of the tree or something that will make a noise if your pet gets close. Aluminium foil works well in these cases, it is light and makes a noise most cats do not like and will give you fair warning.
  • Make sure to tape up any wires against the wall and use a circuit breaker for all Christmas tree lights.
  • Turn tree lights off when asleep, you may be but what is your pet up to?

Where not to put the tree decorations?

  • Common sense should prevail here. Don’t place anything shiny, electrical, and stringy at the bottom of the tree! This should keep them out of reach of jumping paws.
  • Tinsel is shiny and may look like an interesting thing to eat from your pet’s view. However, it can lead to gut obstruction and strangulation.
  • Chocolate sweets can be tempting to humans, but remember that chocolate or candy canes can lead to stomach upsets, diarrhoea and in some circumstances, death.
  • Do not place burning candles where your pet can reach them.

What Christmas items can cause gut obstructions or perforations in your pet?

  • There are plenty of things that can lead to these injuries: tinsel, pine needles, wrapping paper, string, plastic and ribbons.
  • Ideally choose a tree that doesn’t drop its pine needles, these can easily perforate your pet’s gut wall and foot pads. If not, keep on top of vacuuming.  
  • Use unbreakable decorations (especially baubles) if possible and nothing too small that can lead to swallowing hazards.
  • Keep edible presents out of reach until Christmas day itself. Something nice and smelly under the tree can be very tempting.