The holidays are coming, and as you get to work organising gifts, decorations and dinner plans, you probably won’t consider your dog’s relationship with your Christmas tree until they come fur to fir with each other in a potential daily stand-off. You may be asking yourself: do dogs like Christmas trees? Will a real Christmas tree poison your dog? Are even fake Christmas trees toxic to dogs?
To get these arboreal concerns out of the way, read on for our advice on keeping your dog (and your tree!) completely safe over the festive season.
If you’re used to the magic of a real Christmas tree, it can be tough to even consider going without one, no matter how much you love your dog. Thankfully, most live trees used at Christmas such as fir, pine and spruce are non-toxic to dogs - but it’s their decorations, plant fertiliser and dropping needles that may cause problems for your pooch.
Many tree decorations can prove hazardous to a dog’s safety; whether it’s chocolate or popcorn baubles, fragile glass ornaments that could smash and leave sharp pieces, or natural garlands, such as holly or mistletoe, that are toxic if ingested.
Real trees tend to secrete sap and other liquids on their trunk and leaves, and that could be an irritant to your dog if they decide to have a taste.
Traditional Christmas trees tend to drop a lot of spiky needles that gather on the floor. If your dog ingests these, it could cause irritation to their mouth and stomach.
If you water your tree with fertiliser or plant food, there’s also the risk of your pooch drinking toxic water from a plant pot or plate that could make them ill.
The simple answer is yes - you can have a real Christmas tree, so long as you take necessary dog-proofing precautions (coming up).
If your dog does munch on a branch of your glorious tree, it shouldn’t cause any life-threatening injury. The pine needles however are an irritant to a dog’s mouth and sensitive stomach and could cause gastrointestinal issues if eaten in large amounts. Even if he seems to find it appetising, it’s best to deter your dog from seeing the tree as a snack.
A fake tree solves the issue of falling pine needles, however if your dog is prone to chewing on foreign objects, the fact that your tree isn’t alive may not make much of a difference to whether they end up swallowing bits of it. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to follow the same precautions as you would a real tree (list coming up below) to ensure your pooch isn’t ingesting anything they’ll regret.
A lot of artificial trees come with a scenic dusting of fake snow - this isn’t so pleasant however if it finds its way into your dog’s stomach. Though the ingredients in fake snow vary, some is toxic to dogs and some isn’t - so to be safe, avoid ‘snow-covered’ artificial trees and stick to ones with bare branches.
Ensure your dog and your Christmas tree keep a harmonious relationship by following these easy steps…
When you first put up the tree, it’s likely your dog will find this a distracting novelty. Leave it bare without decoration for a few days - then hopefully, when you do get around to decorating it, your pooch will be bored of it already.
As mentioned, chocolate, biscuit or popcorn decorations will only tempt your dog to jump up and get a bite. Best to avoid edible decorations altogether.
If possible, place your tree out of reach - perhaps perched behind or on top of a piece of furniture, or tucked behind a Christmas tree guard for dogs.
Decorations that are easily broken should be placed high up to avoid a jumping or climbing canine.
Similarly, if you can’t have Christmas without holly or mistletoe, be sure they’re well above doggy height.
It seems an obvious point, but be sure that candles aren’t on or anywhere near your Christmas tree - a clumsy dog could spell disaster.
Dogs chew trees and they also chew leads - keep the cord of any Christmas lights out of sight to avoid fire hazards and darkness.
Wrapped presents beneath the tree look truly magical - but rather than build the pile in the lead-up, which will only attract your dog to the tree, perhaps keep them hidden until the day itself.
If you’re already planning for Christmas, why not treat your dog to one of Pooch & Mutt’s doggy Christmas gift boxes or Christmas dog bundles? Or find out what part of a Christmas dinner is safe for dogs here. If you’d like to talk more about dog safety at Christmas, get in touch with us.