The winter holidays are a magical time, dotted with bright lights, sparkling decorations, Christmas trees, and brightly colored garlands.
All of these things are not only fun for us, but they are also intriguing for our pets.
However, before you set up your tree and start taking out the decorations, take a moment to consider these Christmas tree safety tips to keep your pup happy, safe, and healthy during the holidays.
Christmas Tree Safety Tips for Dogs
It can be very difficult to keep a puppy away from the Christmas tree, especially if it is their first Christmas.
Even an older dog, who may have learned not to jump up the tree, may still be curious.
Here are some pet safety risks and precautions to consider.
1. Don’t let them chew branches and needles
A live tree can be especially dangerous for pets.
Dogs like to chew on tree branches, and spruce oils can irritate your pup’s oral tissue and cause symptoms like drooling and vomiting. If your pet chews on the branches, there is a good chance they will swallow the needles as well.
When ingested, pine needles can become trapped in a dog’s intestinal tract, piercing the lining or clumping together and causing an intestinal blockage. Both can be fatal.
Additionally, you should be careful with artificial trees, as pets will likely chew on those crunchy needles, too. These trees can cause the same type of obstruction in a dog.
The best way to protect your pup from these afflictions is to limit his access to the area around your Christmas tree.
Consider purchasing a dog-friendly gate or run to surround the Christmas tree.
2. Don’t let them ingest artificial snow
Artificial snow, also called flocking, is a popular Christmas tree decoration. However, it can cause serious problems in puppies when large amounts are ingested.
If you are going to have a tree in your house, it is best to get a regular tree without flocking.
3. Keep them away from Christmas tree water
Some trees are treated with chemical preservatives to keep them fresher longer. These chemicals drain into the water at the base of the tree, making the water poisonous to drink. Dogs will drink the water if the base of a tree is left uncovered.
You should cover your tree’s water with a skirt, towel, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.
However, placing a gate or pen around your tree is the best and safest prevention of toxicity in puppies.
4. Maintain a barrier for Christmas tree lights
Christmas lights should be placed away from the base of the tree.
Injuries from electrical cords will damage a dog’s oral tissue and can lead to long-term problems eating, difficulty breathing, and even death.
Periodically check electric light cords for signs of chewing (which also poses a fire hazard).
To ensure your pup’s safety, place a gate or pen around your tree. You can also buy plastic fish tank tubes, split them up and cover the lights. This makes them much more resistant to chewing.
5. Keep decorations out of reach
Hang your ornaments on the highest branches of your tree and secure them firmly to the branches. It is best if you select tree decorations that do not break easily.
For delicate, precious or priceless glass ornaments, consider creating an area where they can be displayed that is out of reach of your dog’s tail, paws or mouth.
You can hang them from a garland placed over the mantel, over a door or window, or you can hang them in shadow boxes on the wall.
6. Eliminate the threat of tinsel, string and candy canes
Tinsel is one of the most dangerous tree decorations you can choose.
If your pet ingests even a few strands of tinsel, there is a good chance he or she will develop an intestinal blockage.
This also occurs when your pup ingests edible decorations, such as popcorn, blueberry floss, and candy canes.
These threads can tear a dog’s intestines and can be fatal. Leave these decorations off your tree.
Other decorations that can be deadly to dogs (and children) include:
- angel hair
- Spun glass or plastic ornaments.
- Burning candles
- poinsettia plants
- holly berries
- Advent calendars containing sweets and/or chocolate.
- Liquid potpourri, which can be spilled or swallowed.
Remember that it is best to be overly cautious to protect your pup from the dangers of the holidays.
By following these tips, you can be sure to have a happy and healthy holiday season with your four-legged furry family member.
Cover image: Getty Images/luliaa Zavalishina