Are Christmas trees safe for dogs?

pets and Christmas trees

Much of the Christmas celebration centers around the tree. From decorating to opening presents, it’s hard to imagine Christmas without this majestic symbol of the season. However, it’s important to keep your dog in mind when choosing and decorating your tree. Otherwise, a joyous occasion could end with a tragic costly trip to the vet.

Choosing between live and artificial trees

If your dog has a sensitive respiratory system or suffers from allergies, you may want to think twice about bringing a live tree into your home this Christmas. Live trees can harbor molds and pesticides that can irritate the lungs of both pets and people.

If you’re not sure how your pup will do, bring home a small cutting first and look out for any signs of distress. Should your dog show any adverse reactions, wash his or her face in mild soap and water, and buy an artificial tree instead.

A note about toxicity

It’s important to note that neither live nor artificial Christmas trees are entirely safe. On the one hand, live trees contain oils that can be irritating to mouth tissues if chewed upon, and if swallowed the needles can cause obstruct or puncture the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

On the other hand, artificial trees can release toxins from the resin if swallowed, and can also obstruct the GI tract. Therefore, whichever type of tree you choose, it’s important to supervise your dog around it at all times.

Setting up the tree

When choosing the location to set up the tree in your home, opt for a spot in a corner to limit access to it. Set up a tree bag beneath it so that you can easily pick up the tree, needles and all, at the end of the holiday season.

Once the tree is in place, secure it to a wall with fishing line and a molly screw so that your excited pup doesn’t accidentally knock into it and cause it to come crashing to the ground. You should also wrap the base with plastic wrap to discourage him or her from drinking the water, thereby ingesting toxic pesticides and fertilizers that can leach into the water.

Using safe decorations

Finally, when it comes time to place your ornaments on the tree, chose plastic baubles that won’t be easily broken. Avoid using tinsel, garland, and ribbon because they are another potential GI hazard. Likewise, if any of your ornaments use hooks, replace them with loops instead. Try to position your ornaments away from the bottom of the tree where your pup might be tempted to play with them, and tuck the lights deep into the tree. It’s especially important to tape down any extension cords used to plug in the lights, as bitey and chewy puppies can nibble them and receive a nasty shock.

Are you worried about your pup getting into your Christmas tree while you’re away? Board her with us. Our boarders go to extra lengths to make sure your dog is in a safe environment.


Candace Elise Hoes is a blogger at Kim’s Urban Hounds. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

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