Put yourself in your dog or cat’s paws…at the end of each year, boxes are dragged from the attic or garage. A tree (seen by males as their “outhouse”) is brought INDOORS! Shiny things dangle everywhere, food smells are abundant and people arrive singing greetings. These sights, smells and sounds can be exciting to our four-legged friends, but their perspective on how to deal with this upheaval may differ from ours.
Location! Location! Location!
When choosing where to place the tree or candle display THINK twice! Blocking the window Fido watches the mailman from or the window sill on which Fluffy takes her afternoon nap is not an option. Pick an out-of-the-way location and anchor the tree to a wall or ceiling hook in the event your cat considers it a feline jungle gym. Once in place, leave the tree un-decorated for a day or two to get you pet used it. A quick squirt with a water bottle each time they come near might lessen their interest. Cover tree water with foil, a plastic lid with an “X” cut in it for the trunk to go through or prevent your pets from getting to the base altogether by place a decorative picket fence around it. Preservatives to keep the tree looking its best as well as sap and bacteria that could leach into the water may result in severe stomach upsets or worse. Placing “sticky tape” around the tree skirt or anything with a bumpy surface (such as an upside down floor or car mat that has those nubs cats won’t like to step on) may make your pet take a step back. A low decorative picket fence may be a lovely alternative to keep distance between dogs and the base of the tree.
Once ready to decorate, make it critter-proof by seeing that your ornaments aren’t an extension of your pet’s toy collection! Cats are attracted to shiny balls, ribbons and tinsel. Sadly, Veterinarians report increases in emergency treatments during the holidays since animals often ingest these objects. Never tempt your pet by placing food under the tree or by hanging dog biscuits, candy canes or popcorn garlands on it. Some cat parents want to give kitty something to play with on the low branches. The key is KNOW YOUR CAT…if she can be appeased with soft ornaments, catnip toys and other safe playthings on the bottom branches, by all means do so, but if this is only going to lead to her further exploring UP the tree, keep her away altogether by discouraging her from hanging out near it by having a water squirt bottle or other friendly deterrent nearby. Do realize that in the form of your holiday tree, you have just provided your feline family with a great climbing perch. If she topples it, lights, breakable ornaments and cat go crashing to the floor. As a precaution, secure tree to a wall or a cup hook in the ceiling with pretty ribbon or invisible fishing wire so that at the least, it won’t fall if kitty goes for a climb. Citrus smell often keeps cats at bay, so if this works, oranges, lemons and grapefruits under the tree may do the trick.
CAUTION: Homemade dough ornaments can be deadly! Most recipes call for a large amount of salt which could prove fatal if ingested by your pet, not to mention the hook or string you may have attached it to the tree by.
When you have a dog or cat, you have a furry child for life, so supervise, supervise, supervise, and put thought (from your pet’s perspective) into all your decorating ideas to keep all family members safe.
Please catch my VLOG on this topic: Monday 11/26/18 11am Eastern at www.Facebook.com/Sunny-dogInk __________________________________________________________
For 20 years Denise Fleck’s Sunny-dog Ink motto has been “Helping people to help their pets,” and she has…teaching close to 20K pet lovers animal life-saving skills and millions more on “The Doctors,” CNN, “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life,” Animal Planet and other TV shows. Denise is a frequent conference speaker, developed a line of pet first aid kits and now offers classes online.
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