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VERIFY: Orange peels and cinnamon can keep pets from Christmas trees

Christmas decorating is fun, unless you have an overly-curious pet. A veterinarian suggests trying orange peels and cinnamon as deterrents.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Christmas decorating can bring much joy...unless you have an overly-curious pet, who thinks your tree -- and everything on it -- is his domain.


Good Morning Show viewer Mandy Huffman reached out, asking, "Can you please give me some tips on how to keep my cat out of my Christmas tree? I had to take it down and am very sad about it."

Credit: WFMY via Mandy Huffman



VERIFY journalist Meghann Mollerus reached out to Dr. Janine Oliver, a veterinarian and the owner of Benessere Animal Hospital in Greensboro. First, she said it is important not to let pets chew on Christmas trees.

"Real Christmas trees are some version of pine, and pine can be very irritating. It's not considered deadly, but it's irritating to the mouth and GI tract in animals. Anything, that especially a dog chews on, can become a foreign body. Cats tend to be very attracted to tinsels and things like that, stringy things," Oliver said.

She explained pine oil and sap are the problems. That also is why you should not let your pets drink from the tree stand. Side effects include upset tummies and diarrhea, which Dr. Oliver notes no one wants to deal with (especially when family is in town for the holidays). 

So, how can a pet parent make a Christmas tree less attractive to a pet?

The most obvious and easiest solution is to close the door to the room with the tree.

"For people who don't have the ability to keep their animal in another room from the Christmas tree, I recommend hanging bells on the lower branches, so that as your cat or dog decides to encroach on the tree, you get a warning and stop them from whatever mischief they're about to get into."

Her other ideas include putting orange peels in the tree water, as cats dislike orange. Or, try hanging cinnamon sticks on the tree. Neither cats nor dogs like the hot, spicy smell. Oranges and cinnamon are not poisonous and might do the trick.

Credit: Katie Smith Photography
Adoptable pets at Burlington Animal Services posed with the Grinch and Santa for a special photoshoot.

Or, consider a scotch pine, as the branches are pricklier than other variations of pine.


It is hazardous to a pet's health to chew on or drink from a Christmas tree. Try veterinarian-recommended deterrents to keep pets away from holiday decor.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post, selfie video or screen shot of the article in question to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus

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