1. Choose the Right Spot. Pick an area where the tree can be enjoyed by the family but not so much in the center of activity so that it can be easily knocked over. An area by the wall or in a corner is ideal and out of the traffic flow pattern of the house. Try to place the tree near an outlet so you don’t have to run electrical cords long distances.
2. Prepare the Area. Lay down plastic sheeting. It will help you catch the falling pine needles when the season is over and you are removing the tree.
3. Secure the Tree. Many trees have been sent swaying by a rambunctious pup.
4. Hide the Cords. We all love twinkling fairy lights on our trees, but electrical cords are a grave danger to pets – especially puppies who tend to chew on anything. Cords can cause electrocution and serious injury or even death. Secure the cords by positioning them higher than the pet can reach or hiding them with special covers. Don’t put lights on lower branches where your puppy could reach them.
5. No Hooks. Check your ornaments and replace hooks with a loop of string tied in a knot. Ornaments often fall from the tree and pets may catch their mouths on or swallow the hooks.
6. Choose Safe Ornaments. There is no perfectly pet-safe bauble, as any ornament can be ingested and cause an intestinal obstruction. Glass baubles on the lower limbs can be especially dangerous. If broken, pets can step on them and cut their feet or worse yet – treat the ornament like a ball and chew on it causing it to break, resulting in mouth or throat trauma and bleeding. Many pet owners have learned the hard way not to place any ornaments on the lower limbs. Ornaments made of food may be especially attractive to pets. DO NOT PUT CHOCOLATE ORNAMENTS ON YOUR TREE – Chocolate is highly toxic to dogs.
7. Tinsel. Use ribbons to replace tinsel which if eaten by dogs may get caught in their intestine. Ingestion of this material can cause intestinal obstruction that may require surgery.
8. Presents. Dogs love to investigate and most don’t understand that the presents are not meant to be opened before Christmas Day. Decorative ribbons and string can be ingested, and gifts can be destroyed by a playful pet. Consider storing the presents in a safe area until right before the holiday or make sure your pet is always supervised while investigating and searching for his special gift.
9. Sweep and Water. Sweep up the pine needles. Swallowing pine needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation. Keep the tree watered and only turn the lights on when you are at home. Risk of fire is always there with a live tree. Do not allow your pet to drink the tree water
10. Supervise. The safest thing to do is to allow your pet access to the tree only when supervised. Pets that continue to want to bother the tree should be encouraged – using positive reinforcement – to leave it alone!