African Grey Parrots, great talkers, not so great tree ornaments

I write this on the day after Thanksgiving, when many are using this time to pull out the Christmas ornaments. A fascinating time for dogs, cats, and yes, birds.


I really cannot explain my thought process last year when, after the decorations were up, I decided to let Rosie the African Grey out of her cage. Her first stop? The tree of course, which seemed to be a big surprise to her as she hung perilously awaiting rescue.

Cats also seem to be drawn to trees, and understandably so, since the trees are adorned with shiny bobbles and twinkling lights. Dogs, on the other hand seem to be interested in what can be interpreted as food on the tree, whether it be a candy cane or dog bone ornament.  And at the bottom is a thoughtfully placed bowl of water to wash it all down.

My suggestion is to decorate as if you have a swarm of two-year-old children in your house that can jump and fly.

Of course you want to protect the precious ornaments you have collected over the years. If you have a pet that is going to be attracted to the tree, may I suggest displaying these in a curio or china cabinet? There is no such thing as “high enough” on the tree for the cat that wants to play with the ceramic angel topper that has been in your family for generations.

For pups you can take the swimming pool fence approach, and block off that side of the room or encircle the tree with baby gates. Just know this only has a chanceof keeping the pups out. I say “chance” because you’ve just put up a lot of temptation, and for the motivated pup, a fence will be no challenge.

Like children, pets put things in their mouths and there are many things that are not healthy for your pets to ingest. The list includes, but is not limited to; tinsel, strung popcorn, candy, electrical outlets, and wrappings. Many holiday plants such as lilies, poinsettia and mistletoe, are toxic to pets.

The water under the tree may start out as fresh tap water, but many trees have preservatives, you may have added aspirin to keep the tree fresh, and pesticides can leach into the water. Use a tree stand with a covered dish and watch your pets.

Those who use artificial trees do not have to worry about the water, but do make sure that, like the live trees, your pet doesn’t chew on anything he shouldn’t.

There are gifts under the tree for pets, oh but which one? You dog may have to open each one, just to find his, and hopefully he doesn’t swallow any ribbon while he searches.

The best, and easiest, solution is to place the tree in a room that can be closed off from the pets completely. If this is not possible, consider having a special area of the house for the pets away from the decorations.  If this is not possible, keep an eye on your pets and hang the ornaments high.

It is also a good time to reintroduce them to their crates so they can be out of harm’s way when you are out of the house or have company.


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