Christmas Hazards and your dog's safety

Hazard Awareness and Prevention

Age, temperament, and your dog’s energy level all play a role in how much mischief s/he might get up to during the Christmas period. Even the most well behaved canine can succumb to the temptation of a Christmas tree and its trimmings. Short of constant supervision and who can do that during the Festive season, your next best defence to ensure their safety is to take precautions that minimize or eliminate the risks. :

The Christmas tree

·                                 Needles: Don’t let the dog  chew or swallow fallen Christmas tree needles. They are not digestible and can be mildly toxic depending upon your dog’s size and how much is ingested. The fir tree oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach and cause the dog  to vomit or drool excessively. Tree needles also can obstruct or puncture the gastrointestinal tract.

·                                 Water: Tree water can poison your dog. Preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers and other agents, such as aspirin, are commonly added to tree water to keep the tree fresh. Treated water can be harmful to a thirsty dog -so use a covered tree water dish to be safe.

·                                 Lights: Don’t string the bottom of your tree with lights; some types can get very hot and burn your dog. Firmly tape electrical leads to the wall or floor and check them regularly for chew marks or punctures. Dogs who gnaw on electrical cables and lights can receive electric shocks and mouth burns. Chewing on wire also can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) which can be fatal

·                                 Ornaments: Avoid decorating your tree with edible or glass holiday ornaments. Your dog may knock over the tree trying to get to one, or injure itself trying to play with a broken one. Swallowing an ornament also can cause a gastrointestinal blockage. Some ornaments may be lethal depending upon the materials or chemicals used to create them.

·                                 Hooks: Use ribbon, yarn or lightweight twine to hang your ornaments – not traditional wire hooks – which can snag an ear or swishing tail. If swallowed, they can lodge in your dog’s throat or intestines.

·                                 Tinsel: Don’t trim your tree with tinsel. If swallowed, it can block the intestines causing decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss. Surgery is often necessary to remove the tinsel.

·                                 Gifts: Keep the area around your tree free of discarded string, ribbon and small toys or toy pieces. These can be swallowed and cause a bowel obstruction.

·                                 Artificial trees: Be extra vigilant if you use an artificial tree, especially as it becomes more brittle with age. Small pieces of plastic or aluminium can break off and cause an intestinal blockage or mouth irritation if ingested by your dog.


Prevention is Key

If possible, put your Christmas tree in a room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Another option is to install a baby gate in the doorway to prevent entry to the tree room .When you are not at home or unable to supervise her, confine your dog to its crate or a separate room to keep it safe and out of mischief.

I would recommend confining your pets away from the tree when you are not home. This will allow you to be able to "supervise" any tree or plant eating activity.


Other plants and dangers

Mistletoe and Hollly are also poisonous.

Lilies are highly toxic to cats and the Daffodil bulbs which you might get as a present are also highly toxic to both cats and dogs.

The sap of Poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic / Irritating, and will probably cause nausea or vomiting, but not death. It is better to err on the side of caution, though, and keep pets away from this plant.



If your pet has chewed on the Christmas tree or other plants, monitor for any changes of behaviour (excessive licking, salivating), appetite, activity, water consumption, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you notice that your pet is reluctant to eat, drooling or showing signs of a painful mouth (i.e. not wanting to play with regular toys) be sure to rule out electrical burns in addition to dental and other diseases.



 The stray drink put down by a guest can be very harmful to dogs .Depending on the size of your dog even small amounts of alcohol including beer can be fatal. Signs of alcohol poisoning include  an alcohol smell on the breath, neurological depression, hypothermia (low body temperature), hypotension (low blood pressure), seizures and respiratory failure. Therefore , keep a watchful eye on those drinks on the floor to keep Buddy from the Bud !

Fatty Foods

Fatty foods can be dangerous to dogs, causing pancreatitis which can be life threatening and expensive to treat, so keep the leftovers to a minimum as treats and remind guests and family not to be giving those cocktail sausages to the dog . Again keep a watchful eye on stray plates on floors or low tables  from which your dog may snack .




Make note of when your vet is open and closed over the holiday period and what emergency cover is available  should the need arise. With sensible precautions you won’t need to be using the vet and can safely enjoy the Festive season.