Welcome to the Wascana Animal Hospital's "Twelve Days of Christmas" blog post series! We will focus on 12 holiday- themed segments providing tips for pet owners to consider this Christmas season.
One of the most common items for holiday decor, is the beloved Tannenbaum. Yet when pet-proofing your home during the Christmas season, this main attraction is often overlooked. When setting up your Christmas tree, whether you use a real or artificial one, ensure the base is secure to prevent injury if your pet were to accidentally run into it. Additionally, some cats make tree climbing into an Olympic sport, so you may have to take some additional precautions or keep your cat separated from the tree when unsupervised (insert visual of Christmas tree surrounded by a wire cage)! While it sounds relatively harmless, climbing indoor Christmas trees can be extremely hazardous to your feline family members. Our veterinarians have sadly had to treat feline emergencies where the cat has become "stuck" in the tree- often they get a back leg wedged in between a branch and the trunk (especially on metal artificial trees) and are left hanging or stuck there; aside from being painful, this can pinch hard enough that it cuts off the blood supply to the entire limb and damages the nerves, causing paralysis or even the need for amputation. This is often the case if they get stuck in the morning while you are at work all day; you may not discover them stranded until several hours later! If you have an adventurous climber, it is recommended that you confine your cats to a safer region of the home (away from the tree) whenever you are not able to directly supervise.
In regards to real Christmas trees, it is recommended that only plain tap water be used to water them rather than adding fertilizers or preservatives that may be toxic if ingested. Stagnant water can also pose a risk, as it is likely to grow bacteria, which can also be harmful if your pet happens to drink it. Remember to also vacuum up any dropped pine needles frequently; if ingested they may cause stomach upset or potentially lead to blockages in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
As always, if you have any additional questions or think your pet may have ingested something they shouldn't have, please check with our veterinary team as to whether or not your pet should receive veterinary attention.