If you celebrate Christmas, it’s likely with the holidays just around the corner that you’ve set up a tree at home! As beautiful as they are, having a Christmas trees indoors can become challenging with your four-legged family member around. Did you know that Christmas trees can actually be a safety concern for your dog? Here’s why, and what you can do to keep your pup safe!
The needles on Christmas trees can be dangerous to your pet if ingested (they can be mildly toxic). Needles can also cause obstructions or punctures. Make sure to prevent your dog from drinking out of the tree water in the stand as needles can gather there. Fir oil can also be toxic to your dog, and can gather in the tree stand as well. Some trees are treated with preservatives to make them last longer, which can leach into the water.
Be mindful of what decorations are on your tree and where you place them! Try to avoid using food-based decorations on your tree as this could tempt your dog to climb and eat off the tree. Glass decorations can be dangerous as well if your tree is knocked over, so make sure to use a sturdy stand and anchor the tree into your drywall if necessary. Avoid placing decorations that your dog may be tempted to chew on on the lower branches of the tree. Consider how you attach your decorations to your tree as well. Metal hooks can get caught on your dog’s ears or tail, and can of course be very dangerous if ingested.
Along with being bad for the environment (since it is not recyclable and doesn’t decompose) tinsel can be dangerous for your pup! It can be an appealing toy to chew on due to its texture but even a few strands of tinsel can lead to a very dangerous obstruction.
This is a bigger problem in new dogs and puppies, but some can find the electrical cords for your Christmas lights tempting to chew on. Check your lights and any extension cords frequently to make sure there are no signs of chewing as this can be a fire risk and electrical cord burns can be very dangerous. Covering them with tape or ‘cable organizers’ can be a good trick too!
Although many well house-trained dogs don’t have any issues when suddenly faced with a tree inside their home, some pups may be confused as to why they can’t relieve themselves on your Christmas decor. If you find your dog is thinking your tree is a potty spot just especially for them, it can be helpful to go back to housetraining basics with frequent bathroom breaks, high value treat rewards for going outside, and monitoring while inside. At this time of year, watch your dog closely, especially with their first few interactions with your tree. If they start circling or sniffing excessively, it is a good idea to take them outside before they can lift a leg on your tree! You can spend time reinforcing other desirable behaviour near the tree such as quietly playing or relaxing in their bed as they are less likely to go to the bathroom in an area where they sleep or play.
If your dog is young, or you are finding it too difficult to keep them away from your tree, you can always use a dog pen to block off access to your tree. (Although maybe it’s not the decorating look you were going for, this can keep both your dog and your decorations safe!)
We hope these tips help you and your pup to have a safe and happy pawliday!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
-The healthybud team