Monday, December 16, 2013

Are Christmas Trees Safe for Guinea Pigs?

It's that time of year where the humans go crazy with lights and decorations.
Look at all those colorful things! Are those treats for us?
We're all for humans having their holiday fun, but guinea pig owners need to be careful when it comes to guinea pigs and Christmas trees. Some people worry about the Christmas tree giving off fumes that can hurt your piggy, although this is probably not what you need to worry about. What you need to worry about is your piggy eating branches and needles that drop off your tree. One little nibble probably won't be instantly fatal; we found one guinea pig owner who claimed this his/her piggies nibbled on fir tree bits without any apparent ill effects. However, you shouldn't push your luck when it comes to Christmas trees and your piggies.

Typical types of Christmas trees include spruce, pine and fir, so let's look at each:
Here are a few more holiday warnings you should be aware of:
  • Artificial trees can also be bad for your pet's health if ingested, though it's probably less likely that you'll have artificial leaves/needles falling off that your piggy might chew on. 
  • Christmas tree flame retardants can make your tree more toxic to guinea pigs. 
  • You should also make sure that you keep mistletoe and holly plants away from your guinea pig if you've decorated your house with them for Christmas. They're toxic to piggies.
  • You will also want to be very careful when it comes to Christmas tree lights. As long-time readers probably know, we will chew on all kinds of things if you let us, including shoe laces and iPod wires. Chewing on wires carries an additional risk of electrocution.
With all this in mind, here are some Christmas safety tips:
  • Keep your Christmas tree (and mistletoe, holly, etc.) away from your guinea pig cage, and away from where they enjoy their floor time if possible.
  • As an extra precaution, you should purchase a gate to put around your Christmas tree to keep your guinea pigs away from any tree droppings.
  • Keep Christmas light wires away from your guinea pig. If your Christmas tree is next to an outlet, make sure all the wires are protected within the gate.
  • Sweep and vacuum frequently around your tree to remove any temptation.
  • Do not use flame retardant products on your tree. It will make your tree more toxic to your guinea pigs, and according to at least one study, they are not even effective at making your tree more fire-resistant.
  • If your guinea pig ate something that he or she shouldn't despite your best efforts, you should call call the ASPCA's animal poison control number (888-426-4435) or your local vet immediately.
Have fun and stay safe this Christmas!

Now here's a "tree" that's safe for piggies!


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