Setting up the Christmas tree and decorating it is a beloved tradition for many families, but those wonderful holiday traditions can pose a danger to our dogs. The choice of Christmas tree and its décor can be a serious health and safety risk to our canine companions. To make sure the holidays are picture perfect and not including an emergency veterinary crisis, train your dog to stay away from the Christmas tree and use physical fences, gates, or other ways to dog-proof your Christmas tree by also only using dog-safe ornaments in case your dog does get tree access.
Christmas Tree Dangers for Dogs
If you are a live Christmas tree preferer, it may be better to consider artificial trees when there’s a dog or pets in the household as an artificial tree will not shed or drop needles and requires no water, it also can be smaller and located more easily in a pet-proof display area. No Christmas tree is 100% safe but the water additives such as aspirin and preservatives added to the water in a live tree stand can sicken a dog or be lethal and pine needles can cause digestive punctures or hurt tender paw pads. A well-watered natural tree is only safe is enclosed by pup-proof fencing or a fireplace type grate all around it and the water well of a tree stand is completely covered. An artificial tree doesn’t require water and is also much lighter weight and more balanced so it’s easier to stabilize to prevent the tree from falling over.
Prevent Christmas Tree From Falling Over
An excited dog may knock over a Christmas tree, so securing the tree in a heavy-duty tree base and then taking ultra-strong fishing line, wires or ropes, even decorative ones, and tying those around the tree at mid-height and near the top and attaching the tree to the wall or ceiling with hooks keep the tree from falling over. Try to use furniture strategically to support the tree by placing it between bookcases to anchor it and consider using smaller trees and in a corner to have 45 degrees of the wall to anchor the tree too and prevent knockdowns and messes.
Pet Gates, Playpens, and or Supervision
A Christmas tree dog fence or pet gate or playpens not used by the dog will create a space that is dog-free around the tree and block the tree off entirely. This is especially important if you have a small dog and a tall tree or a great room 12 ft real tree and a great dance who is always curious. The best and only real way to secure a tree is to keep pets supervised closely during Christmas tree season and keep the room the tree and presents are blocked, closed off, or gated off for doggy welfare and present and tree survival.
Dog Training Secrets
The better trained or mannered your dog is, the safer Christmas is. Allowing a dog to get used to the tree with you supervising and ensuring the novelty is gone is one method, as it training your dog to go to their mat or crate if they get too close to the tree and eventually the repeated command will discourage and end the tree and gift-seeking behavior.
Ornaments and Garland Dangers
Some types of ornaments are irresistible to some dogs, some dogs think all balls look the same so round ornaments look like toys to them, and soft toys may look like their chew toy plushies so knowing what type of toys your favors, including tog of war toys that can be mistaken for any type of garland invite a dog to want to get the new toys off the tree and in their mouths. As ornaments can be made of glass and unsafe or fragile materials, Christmas tree ornaments cannot be ever entirely safe. Plastic ornaments are less fragile, break less, and shatter differently and silk-wrapped ornaments can cause Styrofoam and silk to be ingested and get stuck and obstruct a dog’s stomach and intestines. The metal hooks commonly used need to be replaced with plastic hooks, ribbons, or even twist ties to secure ornaments on the boughs of the holiday shrubbery. Hooks from ornaments can damage a dog’s mouth or get caught if they puncture a cheek and are a choking and serious safety hazard.
Holiday Décor Dangers
Other décor used during the holiday season can also be a danger to your pet so keep these other holiday items in a pet-secured area or on the tree only and not where a dog can easily get ahold of or into. Jingle bells, sleigh bells and metal hooks, tinsel, and even strings of popcorn can all cause intestinal issues, and even salt dough ornaments can all pose health risks as salt dough ornaments can cause salt poisoning. Edible holiday treats, from cakes and cookies as well as decorative candy canes we pull off the tree to eat them can contain severely toxic ingredients for pets, especially chocolate and xylitol, a sugar substitute that causes organ failure in dogs.
You can decorate safely by placing holiday greeting cards taped on the wall in borders and decorative designs as decoration and make sure that the most precious and fragile ornaments are well-secured at the top of the tree only. Using Christmas lights can create a fire risk and can be chewed on so coating them with petroleum jelly or a pet deterrent product can prevent a dog from biting electrical cords and be electrocuted or cause a wire from gnawed wires. In any pet-friendly home, it’s practical and safer to use LED or other fake candles that have no open flames to prevent fires and burns from curious pets interested in the light.
Wrapped Package Temptations
It is also critical to place the gifts under the tree to prevent temptation. Dogs can easily ingest the delicious fruit cake or chocolates in gift wrapped packages and deal with ribbon issues. Keep the gifts fenced off and only placed right before opening on Christmas morning ideally. Dogs have stronger senses of smell and can find the delicious and high-risk to dog gifts we least would want them to get into easily, so ensure that the treats and tasty snacks in stockings are secured and unable to be explored or gotten into by our canine companions. After opening gifts, make sure all the paper, ribbons, and bows are cleared up to prevent a dog from investigating them and eating a curly ribbon that can get stuck in their gastrointestinal system.
Enjoy your holidays at home and not the animal hospital by protecting your dog from holiday hazards and making sure they have a happy holiday as well. Make sure they have their own pet-safe stocking to include them in the Christmas activities and make them pet safe meals but include them in the celebrations by being mindful of their needs and remember they are a pet, holidays can be stressful and overstimulating for even humans, and dogs are not humans. Show them they were on the good list of Santa Paws and demonstrate love, by protecting them from holiday decoration, food, and tree dangers.
We are here to care for your pets while you travel for the holidays. Do you want a well-behaved dog? Get ahead and get a jump start on your dog training before the holidays. We can help make your dog a good dog. 2 Paws Up Inc Pet Care and Dog Training provides pet sitting, dog walking, overnight care, private dog training, and day training.