7 Sparkling Safety Tips For A Dog-Proof Christmas Tree

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Ah… the allure of the Christmas tree: its intoxicating yuletide smell, the peaceful glow of the lights, gleaming ornaments that tell a story of holidays past. Together, it creates an almost Zen-like relaxation. Unless you have pets – to them, it’s an irresistible, shiny toy (and indoor bathroom).

Cats usually get a bad rap when you here about Christmas tree horror stories. But don’t let that wagging tail and puppy-dog eyes fool you. Dogs, especially puppies, can often play a nefarious part when it comes to destroying your irreplaceable, family-heirloom angel ornament.

Related: I’m Afraid My Dog Will Ruin Christmas

To help you prepare for a safe holiday season (and keep your Christmas tree upright and in one piece), here are a few tips to keep in mind before getting your Tannenbaum on:

Get real – the huge Douglas Fir you just have to have won’t stand on it own in that flimsy, tiny plastic base. It’s going to go over with just one longing look from your dog. And once your pooch learns that the tree can fall, he will want to do it again and again – like a game of fetch, only with a brightly colored stick. To prevent a Grinch-like mess, set up your tree in a weighted and size-appropriate base.

If you’re not happy with the appearance of your dog-friendly tree base, consider creating a simple present-themed cover that can be placed on it. All you have to do is take a box large enough to cover your tree stand and cut it along the center so that it’s in two halves, one for the front and one for the back. In the top of the box, cut a semi-circle to allow the boxes to fit snuggly around the tree trunk. Wrap your boxes in your wrapping paper of choice and place them around the stand. You can easily move the boxes when it comes time to watering your tree. To your guests, however, it’ll look like there’s nothing under there but festive wrapped presents.

Related: Top 10 Ugly Christmas Sweaters For Dogs

It’s not only an homage to the Dave Matthews Band, but also a serious concern. Some dogs see the water in the tree base as an evergreen-flavored thirst quencher. But did you know that it could contain fertilizers, bacteria and sometimes Aspirin (from the tree), all dangerous and poisonous for your dog. Here’s a tip – dogs and cats hate the texture of tin foil. Cover the base tree base with it to keep pets at a safe distance.If you’d rather be safe than sorry, substitute your natural tree for an artificial one. This will offer some peace of mind since it doesn’t need any water.

The tree box idea above may be enough to keep your dogs out of this tempting cocktail, but there’s always that one dog that’s far too stubborn for his or her own good. If that’s your pup, it likely won’t take long for him to realize that they can simply nose that box out of the way.

Needles may look and smell tasty to a dog, but they’re not part of his balanced breakfast. Those prickly needles aren’t digestable and can lead to vomiting. Be sure to sweep and vacuum the area on a daily basis to avoid this inedible issue. In addition to an upset stomach, the needles can scratch, puncture, or irritate your dog’s throat or the lining of his stomach. This may not be a life-or-death situation, but it can cause a lot of unnecessary discomfort that you will want to avoid this holiday season.

Blinking lights on a Christmas tree are a joyful necessity to us… but not so much for dogs. If your dog thinks that the light cord is a chew toy, he may be in for a shocking surprise. It could lead to mouth burns, fires or even electrocution. Be sure to leave the bottom of the tree light-free or securely attach them to the bottom – both tricks make it hard for your dog to get at them.

In more extreme situations, chewing an electrical cord can prove fatal to your dog. It’s not a risk that you want to play around with. Especially during the holiday season! Try tucking any electrical cords powering your tree away where your dog can’t reach them. One easy solution is to hang your lights in a way that the cord exits the back of the tree a little further up off the ground to eliminate the temptation of a cord laying there for him to gnaw on.

The tree looks absolutely beautiful draped with silver tinsel. But if your dog swallows it, it can get stuck in his intestines. These silver threads sometimes come out when your dog goes poop and you’ll gently have to pull it out, but sometimes it can get wrapped around his intestines. Then it becomes an expensive present you get to unwrap at your veterinarian’s office. Skip the tinsel and stick to ornaments.

You love and cherish them. You can’t wait to display them on your tree for everyone to admire. Put puppies doesn’t get that they’re not toys. Keep them on hold for a few years until your puppy is older and understands that ornaments aren’t to play with. Until then, get plastic or wood ones.

As your dog gets older, you can hang your precious ornaments higher up on the tree where they can’t be reached. However, this approach may not be a good solution when he’s still a puppy. High energy pups are often running around and playing with no regard for their surroundings causing them to pump into walls, doors, and furniture. If your dog bumps into the bottom of your tree and shakes your precious ornament loose, the height is only going to increase the chances that it won’t survive the fall.

If you want your gifts to stay intact, I suggest hiding them until Santa comes on Christmas morning. Some dogs can’t resist the lure of brightly wrapped packages and gift bags. Unless it’s the ugly Christmas sweater that your Grandma knitted for you – feel free to let your pooch use that present as a chew toy.

In addition to the hassle of having to rewrap your gifts, your gift wrap may pose a health risk to your dog. We often wrap our presents with colorful ribbons to give them that extra flair. However, like tinsel, ribbon can get tangled up in your dog’s intestines. This may cause the intestines to be bunched up similar to the way that the waist of your sweatpants do when the drawstring is tugged. It can also cut into the intestines causing internal damage. If you believe that your dog may have ingested a string or ribbon, contact your veterinarian asap to discuss your options. The sooner this risk is addressed, the better for your pup.

This may sound a bit of holiday buzz kill, but relax – this too shall pass. Puppies grow up and dogs can be trained. At some point, you’ll be able to show off your wonderful ornaments, put plenty of gifts back under the tree and enjoy the tree in all its splendor.

Even with all these tips and tricks, you’ll still need to keep an eye out for tree trouble. If you don’t trust your dog or spend a lot of time out of the house, you may want to consider setting up the tree in a closed room of placing a baby gate at the room’s entrance.

Do you have any other Christmas tree safety tips to share? Please leave them in the comment section below.