Updated: Apr 6
Christmas time is an occasion for fun and merriment for all the family – including your dog! But unfortunately, there are lots of potential dangers and stressors during your dog at this time. If you want to make sure your dog’s happy and safe this Christmas, read our guide. The Christmas period is a time of great fun for all the family and that (usually) includes your dog too! There are many dogs who love to celebrate the holidays with us and spend all the time getting up to mischief – like sneaking your Christmas treats or collapsing the tree – and while this may all seem like good fun, the festive season can also bring a wealth of potential hazards that you’ll need to be on the lookout for.
With Christmas on the way, you may be wondering how to ensure your dog’s Christmas is just as merry as your own, which is why we’ve created this guide on keeping your dog safe and happy this holiday. Dogs and Christmas trees As you know, one of the biggest Christmas traditions involves bringing a tree into your home, and to your dog, this is a dream come true. Your four-legged friend will look at this tree and their eyes will light up at the thought of unlimited sticks to chomp and if you have a male dog, they may see it is as an excellent new spot to have a wee. Some pet owners will be lucky enough to own a pup that’s unphased by this new addition, but if you have a dog that just can’t resist, you’ll need a dog-proof Christmas tree. Here’s what to look for.
Fairy lights One of the dangerous elements to dogs and Christmas trees are the twinkling lights wrapped around them. They may look harmless, but some dogs think of the wires as shiny new chew toys – which is most common with younger dogs or puppies. Also, if you have a particularly boisterous pup that likes to play, they may get tangled up in the wires. An easy way to prevent your dog getting hurt by your Christmas tree lights is to cable tie any lose wires and then always disconnect from the mains when you go out. Alternatively, if you want to leave your lights on all the time, opt for battery operated ones instead and make sure that you place the battery pack in a place your dog can’t reach.
Baubles and hanging decorations Another way to dog-proof Christmas trees is to make sure you’re only buying safe decorations. Avoid tinsel and angel hair on your tree as when consumed, they can cause a blockage in your dog’s stomach. Glass baubles are also a bad idea if you have a boisterous dog, as they may shatter which could potentially harm your pet. Instead opt for non-toxic plastic decorations. If you have more expensive ornaments which are essential decorations for your tree, place them near the top of the tree where your dog and their wagging tail can’t reach them. Also, don’t put edible decorations such as chocolates or candy canes on the tree as they’re highly toxic to dogs and many won’t be able to resist tipping the Christmas tree over If your dog just loves to play with your tree, you’ll probably need a solution to stop it from crashing down in the middle of your living room. The best way to do this is to either purchase a weighted base or attach weights to be bottom to keep it safely in place. Alternatively, if you want to be extra safe, you can anchor it to your ceiling or wall instead.
Presents under the tree Where a Christmas tree surrounded by wrapped presents with bows on top may be a wondrous sight, it may prove too great a temptation for your dog. Keep presents out of sight until the day, then always make sure your dog’s supervised with them – otherwise they may help themselves to a gift or two! Never put your dog’s Christmas presents under the tree either, they definitely won’t be patient and wait until the day to sniff out any tasty treats. Are Christmas trees poisonous to dogs? Yes, some fir trees produce oils which are mildly toxic and if ingested could cause your dog to vomit or excessively drool. Additionally, the sharp tips of trees bring an extra cause of concern as there’s a mild risk that if ingested, the needles can cause internal damage. However, it is rare for a dog to eat enough of the tree to cause any issues. If you want to get a real Christmas tree, it’s best to opt for a non-drop variety because the loose needles can get stuck in your dog’s paws which can be very painful. Also, due to the mild toxicity of some Christmas trees, it’s best to place it in a separate room in the home where your dog won’t be able to access it when they’re unsupervised. Other dog Christmas hazards It’s not just the Christmas tree that can be a hazard during the festive period, but there’s plenty of other things you need to watch out for too.
Christmas foods There’s lots of Christmas foods that are toxic or poisonous to your dogs, including chocolate, grapes, sultanas and raisins (present in Christmas puddings and mince pies). A lot of dog owners think feeding them a bit of chicken or turkey is a nice gift, but these scraps can contain tiny bones which are dangerous – always check the meat thoroughly before feeding to your dog.
Alcohol and caffeine: these are both toxic for pets.
Avocados: these contain persin which causes symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to cardiac arrest and death. Birds are particularly sensitive to persin but avocado should not be fed to any pets.
Chocolate: for cats and dogs, chocolate can cause elevated heart rate, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea.
Macadamia nuts: can cause vomiting, weakness and tremors if eaten by dogs.
Onions and chives: these contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can damage red blood cells if eaten by cats and dogs.
Pits and seeds of peaches, plums, persimmons, and apples: these contain a substance that degrades to cyanide, which is toxic. The pits of peaches are also choking hazards that can cause blockages and damage to the intestine.
Xylitol (a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum): causes hypoglycemia in dogs, which can lead to seizures and liver failure in severe cases.
Sweet-corn cobs: these can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don’t let your dog chew on the cob.
Turkey skin/pork crackling/sausages/fatty meats: these can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and may lead to pancreatitis.
Festive flowers Festive plants and flowers look stunning in our homes, but unfortunately a lot of these plants are toxic to dogs. Poinsettia which is used in many wreaths and arrangements can cause stomach and mouth irritation, while holly and European mistletoe berries are also toxic and can cause stomach upset. American mistletoe on the other hand is highly poisonous. Additionally, ivy which is commonly used in wreaths can cause sickness and skin irritation like contact dermatitis.
Christmas crackers Christmas crackers are a staple of festive get-togethers, but loud sounds can be very frightening for your dog. If you’re setting these off, it’s a good idea to put your dog in another room or the garden. Also, be wary of little items that fly out of your crackers, which can end up on the floor where your dog may eat them.
Visiting friends and family It’s likely that you’ll have plenty of friends and family visiting over the holidays and this can be quite overwhelming for your dog – particularly if they’re not used to it. Make sure you provide them with a space away from it all, put down blankets and provide them with food and water. That way if they feel stressed from all the merriment, they can go to their quiet space. That’s our guide to making sure your dog’s Christmas is a safe and happy one.