Dogs & Christmas trees? Dog-proof Tips and advice for Safety

Ah, Christmas, the jolliest season for people and dogs alike! 

It is the time of the year full of family gatherings, joyful presents, tasty feasts, uplifting decorations, and of course, emotional, and confused canines. 

While excitement meters go through the roof during Christmas for dogs things can differ. “Dazzled and bewildered” is probably the best way to describe how man’s best friend behaves at this time of year. 

Dog in Santa Hat

It’s no secret that we like to spoil both ourselves and those dearest when Christmas time. However, gifts and love are universal and our pet dogs are living proof of that! Pups get to play dress up, eat lots of delicious food, and mingle with the rest of the family.  

But, do dogs know when it's Christmas season?.

Although the answer is a definitive “NO”, one thing’s for sure - puppies love every bit of attention they get! Of course, presents too!

Choose an amazing gift from any of our guides:

Yet, the same as with children, pups need roguery and damage control as overexcitement strikes. With choking hazards, poisonous foods, and electrical decorations at hand, you have to remain vigilant and keep your eyes open.

In this blog post, at Dog Owner, we look at just that:

How to keep our lovely pet dogs safe and sound during the Christmas holidays?

Christmas Tree

Which festive plants are poisonous to dogs?

Being a dog owner on Christmas can be stressful, especially with festive plants around the house. Some plants are poisonous to dogs and one has to stay sharp! 

Good news is that once you learn which festive shrubs and trees are poisonous for canines, preventative measures will be effortless.

Are Christmas trees poisonous to dogs?

Well, the short answer is “No”. 

Traditional Christmas trees such as the evergreen fir are only slightly unhealthy for canines and will not prove fatal.
Three dogs sitting

Dog eating pine tree branches?

When consumed, pines can cause some oral irritation and an upset stomach. 

Christmas trees with prickly pines, on the other hand, pose quite a bit of danger. The trees’ sharp leaves can get stuck in your dog’s mouth or throat and cause irritation. They can also lead to heavy discomfort as canines’ bellies struggle to digest pines.

To avoid such complications and still have a go for a low needle-drop Christmas tree, like the Nordmann Fir. This will keep falling needles down to a minimum and spare you all the vacuuming involved.

Is mistletoe poisonous to dogs?

For humans, mistletoe is an emblematic festive plant shrouded in folklore.

“For dogs, however, it’s an extremely poisonous and nasty weed that if eaten, can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased heartbeat and much worse.” comments “If you suspect that your furry companion swallowed a piece of mistletoe, rush to the vet immediately!”

To prevent poisoning, either place mistletoe shrubs where your dog can’t reach it or better yet - skip it this Christmas.

Is Holly plant poisonous to dogs?

Similar to mistletoe, the Holly plant is a common festive decoration that can poison a dog and leave it helpless. The symptoms match those of mistletoe: 

  • Vomiting;

  • Diarrhoea; 

  • Lethargy.

So, if you happen to see your pup munch on Holly, visit the local vet immediately.

Dangers Christmas trees pose to dogs

Dog in Reindeer costume

It’s no secret that dogs just love Christmas trees. 

There’s something about holiday lights and decorations that canines just can’t resist. Curiosity is cute, no doubt about it, but it can put your dog at great risk. 

Let’s look at how Christmas trees can threaten your dog’s health and how to avoid:

  • Ornaments: When it’s time to put up decorations on your Christmas tree, avoid glass ornaments and ones made out of food. Those might get your dog to freak out and throw itself at the Christmas tree(to get the treats). This can leave you with a knocked down tree and a hurt dog. Therefore, choose your decorations wisely. At best - inedible and eco-friendly objects.

  • Hooks: Wire hooks pose a choking hazard. Due to being sharp, they cause great complications if consumed by a dog. To avoid such festive problems, replace hooks on your tree with ribbons, yarn or even twine.

  • Lights: Christmas tree lights irreplaceable for any Christmas tree decor. They’re also incredibly dangerous for dogs, posing the risk of electrocution and burns. Therefore, avoid stringing lights near the bottom part of the Christmas tree. Тape the cords to the wall so that your dog can’t chew on them. Check the tape regularly for chew marks or scratches.

  • Tinsel: Avoid tinsel! If a dog swallows the “shiny goodness”, it can vomiti, get diarrhoea, weight loss, and a decreased appetite. In many cases, the one way to help a dog that ate tinsel is to remove the foreign body through surgery.

  • Water: Keep your dog away from the water stand. Just a sip can lead to poisoning. Many Christmas trees will have a great amount of fertilizer when brought home.  It’s what makes water undrinkable. Aside from fertilizers, tree stand water can contain bacteria and bacteria can make matters worse. The good news is that you can dog-proof the water stand quite easy. All you will need is a trash bag and some scissors. Cut a hole in the bag, big enough for the tree to go through. Tape it around the stand to prevent your dog getting in touch with bacteria-ridden water. Voila! Your water stand is dog-proof.

  • Gifts: Gift wrappings consist of puny decorations. Size easy to swallow is risky. To prevent a choking incident, cut back over-packaging gifts. 

So what about fake Christmas trees, are they any safer for dogs?

“Well, while artificial Christmas trees are generally safer, they do begin to brittle with age,” commented Deemer Cass, a Christmas tree delivery pro in London. “We all know how dangerous small plastic pieces are when you have a dog. In the long run, fake Christmas trees pose more risk than real Christmas trees.” the expert added.

How do you keep dogs away from a Christmas tree?

A great way to keep your dog away from your Christmas tree is through erecting a barrier. Just block off the entrance to the room where the tree is situated with a baby gate. 

Learn what dog training tips with hand signals we have to share.

How our canine companions can join in on the feast

Black Dog

Want your dog to participate in the Christmas dinner? Why not! It can be a very fun activity that strengthens the bond between you and your pet. 

Yet, it’s good to bear in mind that not all human food is fit for consumption by canines. A small bite from certain dishes can disrupt your dog’s digestive system and in worst-case scenarios, be fatal. 

Therefore it’s crucial to know what your dog can eat at Christmas and what it cannot. 

Important: Please remember that any human food you feed your dog should be in moderate quantities. Never feed your furry friend too much of anything, as even dog-safe food can cause them discomfort when in abundance.

Dog-safe food at Christmas dinner:

  • Turkey - Only lean, boneless meat with no spices should be fed to dogs.

  • Eggs - The eggs should be cooked and unseasoned (scrambled without milk).

  • Potatoes - The portion needs to be small and well-cooked (also unseasoned).

  • Green Veggies -  Be careful with the veggies and always offer them in small portions. Some vegetables that your dog can eat (boiled/steamed and unseasoned) are carrots, parsnip, green beans, broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mashed peas and courgettes.

  • Fruits - You can offer your dog melons, bananas or an apple. However, make sure the quantity is moderate and that all the seeds are removed.

Foods to dogs should not eat on Christmas:

  • Anything roasted or fried in oil, butter or fat.

  • Any types of sauces, for example, cranberry, garlic, cheese and gravy.

  • Turkey or chicken skin - Contains too much fat to give to a dog.

  • Bacon - Bacon and sausages wrapped in bacon are high in fat and salt so they are best avoided. In general, dogs can be fed pork, but it has to be in limited quantities.

  • Bulb vegetables - Don’t feed your dog any onions, garlic, chives, shallots or leeks.

  • Mushrooms - Only a select few types of mushroom are ok to feed dogs. But it’s best not to take your chances.

  • Herbs and spices - Dogs can get sick from the consumption of herbs and spicy food. 

  • Deserts - Basically, anything that contains sugar is a no-no and that includes chocolate(which also has Theobromine in it) as well.

  • Milk and dairy products - It’s difficult for dogs to digest certain products with lactose. You can read more on the subject - here.

  • Nuts - Most nuts are toxic for dogs and can cause them huge health complications.

  • Anything containing alcohol - This one is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Bird bones - Bird bones are a choking hazard, inappropriate for canine consumption.

  • Uncooked dough and yeast - These can be fatal for your furry friend and must always be kept somewhere safely tucked away.

  • Avocados - The avocado’s stone contains a chemical that is dangerous for canines.

  • Fruit stones and pips - Although dogs love fruits, they’re not necessarily very good for them. This is due to the fact that many fruits contain pips and stones which are poisonous.

  • Grapes and raisins - These can have huge consequences if digested by your dog. Even a small amount may prove fatal. If you notice that your dog has eaten any of these foods, take him immediately to the vet.

Final words for dogs at Christmas,

Santa Dog

Christmas is a time to celebrate family and those you love.

However, it’s important not to neglect our canines’ well-being amongst all the fun and excitement. As with just a little bit of effort, you can guarantee your dog will have the time of its life, while also staying safe and healthy.