It's Christmas time of year again, time for Joyful fun! Dogs love Christmas too, and many dogs are fascinated with the Christmas tree, both live trees and artificial trees. But if you're wondering, are Christmas trees dangerous to dogs?  The short answer is Yes, they certainly can be. But with careful planning, awareness, and supervision, dogs can also enjoy the family Christmas tree as they wait with anticipation for Santa Paws to arrive!

Are Christmas Trees Dangerous To Dogs    Dogs and Christmas trees
You mean this pretty Christmas tree can be dangerous to dogs?!

Is The Christmas Tree Dangerous To Dogs?

Potential Dangers of Live Christmas Trees To Dogs

Let's start with live Christmas trees. Live Christmas trees come in many different varieties. But they all have oils, needles, and may have other parts such as buds on them that can potentially harm dogs if ingested.

According to HartzPine tree needles are not digestible and can be mildly toxic depending upon your dog’s size and how much she ingests. The fir tree oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach and cause dogs to vomit or drool excessively. Tree needles can also obstruct or puncture a dog's gastrointestinal tract.

Christmas tree lights can get hot and burn your dog, especially if they try to chew on them. They can also get an electrical shock if they chew on tree lights.  Electrical tree light cords can be very tempting for dogs to chew on.

Chewing on electrical cords can cause other hazards as well. One of the dogs I follow on Twitter just had an incident with the tree light cords. A dog they adopted this past year was having her first Christmas with the family.  She got to the tree lights and ate the cord! Thankfully it was unplugged or it could have been ugly. They have since removed all the lights from their tree. 

Try not to string the lights on the bottom portion of the Christmas tree where your dog can reach them. Keep electrical cords for the tree lights secured to the wall or floor with tape or other material. Check them daily to ensure the dog hasn't been chewing or biting them. If your dog can't resist chewing on the electrical cords, consider not having lights on the tree. We all want lights on the tree, but if my dog's safety was at risk I would ditch them.

Live Christmas trees need to be watered. The water in the tree's stand can be poisonous to your dog.  Christmas trees may have been given preservatives, pesticides, or fertilizers. In addition, people may add tree fertilizer packets or aspirin to the tree water to help keep it fresh. These items can also be toxic to dogs. Try to keep your dog away from the tree water, or try to cover the tree stand's water reservoir. 

Ornaments and their hooks on the Christmas tree can pose a hazard to your dog.  Years ago, my cat Maggie was totally obsessed with a particular set of ornaments for some reason.  There were 3 in the set. They were velvet and had a fabric rope design around them, each shaped differently. One was a heart with a mirror inside it. The other two were shaped like a candy cane and a tree.  I don't know what she found so amusing about these 3 ornaments!  She used to somehow get into the tree and grab one or more of these ornaments, and play with them. I'd find them under the couch or my bed. It was only these 3 ornaments! I never did figure out why she was so enthralled with these particular ornaments, but by the third year I stopped putting them on the tree because I didn't want her to ingest any part of them. That would have been bad.

Biting and breaking an ornament can be dangerous for dogs. They can cut their mouths on ornament shards or sharp edges. If they ingest an ornament it could create an intestinal blockage. 

In addition, ornaments can be made of materials that are toxic to dogs, so even licking or chewing on an ornament can become a serious issue.  You don't want to have to rush your dog to the emergency Vet on Christmas Eve!  

One of the Christmas tree decorations I stopped trimming the tree with years ago is tinsel! Another story about my cat Maggie - yeah, she seriously Loved the Christmas tree!  

One year, when I was still putting tinsel on my tree, Maggie cat was of course poking around amusing herself with the tree.  At one point I saw her from behind, and there was a string hanging out of her rectum!  I moved closer and realized it was tinsel! I was so freaked out. 

I had read that if a dog or cat ingests string you should never try to pull it out of their rectum if it's passing through/ Tugging on it could be dangerous. So I let it be and called the Vet. He said to monitor her carefully and as long as she wasn't vomiting, having diarrhea, or experiencing other symptoms of distress I should see if she would pass it in her stool. I prayed she would completely pass it, and thankfully by the next day she did. 

I learned that if tinsel is swallowed by a dog or cat it could potentially cause a dangerous intestinal blockage, which would likely require surgery.

Artificial spray "snow" that comes in a can can also make your dog sick. Dogs can have an adverse reaction if they inhale the material as you're spraying it on the tree.  Many dogs can also be tempted to chew on or eat this substance as well, which can make them sick.

Potential Dangers of Artificial Christmas Trees

The potential hazards of artificial Christmas Trees to dogs are very much the same in terms of lights, ornaments, tinsel and fake snow.  With artificial trees you need to be cautious of all the materials the tree is made of.

The artificial branches, or fake "needles" can be dangerous if swallowed by dogs. Most artificial Christmas trees are made of PVC or other plastic, and some are made with aluminum. Many artificial trees are pre-lit or have flocking, which is the white substance that resembles snow. These materials can cause intestinal blockage if ingested by dogs. 

Dogs, Cats and Christmas Tree Dangers

The best way to keep your dog safe from potential Christmas tree dangers to dogs is to supervise her around the tree at all times. Check the tree lights, water, and ornaments to see that your dog hasn't been touching them. You may even need to block the tree off from the dog if she seems a little too interested in the lights, ornaments, branches, etc.

If your dog experiences symptoms of illness and you suspect they may have gotten into something on your Christmas tree, call your Veterinarian immediately. 

Symptoms to watch out for include; Vomiting, Diarrhea, Lethargy, Mouth irritation, Loss of appetite, Bowel movement concerns. Don't take any chances, it can't hurt to check in with your Vet.


Christmas Tree Dangers To Dogs

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Impurrfectlife said...

These are all wonderful practical tips to help keep your pet safe. Many dangers you mentioned I too, recall safeguarding my cats at the time. The beautiful lights always captivated them so that they wanted to climb inside the artificial tree limbs. Oh boy! And we learned early on to not hang any ornaments or string any lights on the lower end of the tree as not to entice them. Lovely time of year to enjoy but having them supervised with a watchful eye helps keep the furry family members safe and your mind at ease. Merry Christmas!

FiveSibesMom said...

All great tips! And so great to point out the water for real trees and how it can be poisonous to dogs! I think that can easily be overlooked. Tinsel...oh gosh, how I loved that stuff when I was a kid, but having dogs, I stopped using it! I'm not sure how my dogs of childhood never bothered with it (thankfully) and it used to be made with lead then! I would roll it up into a little ball. Yikes! But no tinsel on my trees! Great tips and I've Pinned and shared with my followers! I hope you and Icy and Jessie have a lovely Christmas!

Tail Wag Wisdom said...

Oh my, Maggie sounds like a character! I had a cat that would take down certain ornaments that were wrapped in satin thread. The center was a soft styrofoam. She'd carefully knock one down and play with it until all the satin was unraveled and throughout the house like treasure map. Those ornaments went away after a year of trying. Crazy how they will go after certain ornaments.
Excellent Christmas tree tips for our pets. I'm also very careful with the needles (even the fake ones like on mine) from poking Henry in his eyes. He's short and those buggers are always at his eye level. Since my tree is fake, I bend every bottom branch up out of his eye reach. The things we do to keep the fur kids safe.
I'm sharing these great tips with all my dog parents.
I hope you, Icy, Jessie, your husband and entire family have a beautiful holiday.

LaylasWoof said...

Fantastic post and makes so much sense which I unfortunately people do not think about. I am fortunate as there is no tree in our house so I do not have to worry but do in the New Year when the trees are on the sidewalk waiting for pick up and Layla loves sniffing and peeing on them. Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

I read about the fake snow in trees being lethal to pets. It horrified me and I tell people to stay away from them! Nasty things (at the risk of sounding boring eh?).

People are great buying a real tree they can replant but, as you say, it needs to be watered carefully so your pets don’t drink the water.

You need to make this into an ebook!

Marjorie Dawson

لناسنتر said...

It was an interesting article, I liked it.

nikta said...

The post was interesting.

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