Schnauzer next to a Christmas Tree
A Fur Baby Enjoying the Christmas Season

It’s the season for joy and gift-giving in celebration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Even many people who do not share this concept of Christmas, enjoy the lights, music, and decorations. Keeping your fur baby safe is important for all of us.

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It is likely that you have already considered some of the risks associated with the Christmas season. Keeping your fur baby safe at Christmas has been considered and you have made some wise decisions. However, you may have forgotten a few other risks.

Schnauzer next to a Christmas Tree
A Fur Baby Enjoying the Christmas Season

Keeping Your Fur Baby Safe By Making Wise Tree Choices

The first decision is whether to select a live tree or an artificial tree. We will first consider the choice of a live Christmas tree. You have many beautiful tree species from which to choose. depending upon where you live.

Tree Oil or Sap From A Live Tree

Some of the trees traditionally considered as ideal Christmas trees contain oils that can be toxic to dogs. Pine, spruce, and fir trees are among those whose oil is an irritant to a dog’s mouth and can cause them to drool excessively or even to regurgitate (vomit).

Tree Needles

Even if your fur baby does not get any of the tree’s oil into their mouth, they may swallow some of their needles. They can cause problems from mild to serious:

  • irritate the gastrointestinal tract
  • vomiting
  • cause an obstruction and may need surgery to resolve
  • perforation of the intestines

One recommendation that has been reported as helping deter dogs from ingesting needles is to spritz the entire tree with a 50-50 mixture of water and red-pepper sauce

Dehydrated Trees and the Dangers of Preventatives

Regardless, of the type of tree you have chosen, you will need to make sure that it stays well-hydrated. Many of us can hardly wait to get our Christmas trees up and decorated.

Most people consider Thanksgiving weekend a reasonable time to start their Christmas decorating. If you put your tree up at that time, you need to be sure to keep it adequately hydrated for several weeks.

Dried out trees are at increased risk of catching on fire. People do not want to spend a month worrying about their family and their home being at risk of catching on fire. So, they use additives to the water used to hydrate their Christmas tree.

These additives are made of preservatives or fertilizer. The combination of bacteria, mold, and additive chemicals can make your fur baby very ill if they drink it.

Please make sure that there is always clean water available for your dog so they do not drink from the tree stand. If there is any chance they will still try to drink from the stand, cover it so they cannot do so. Tree skirts work well for this.

Artificial Christmas Trees

christmas, , artificial christmas tree
Fake Christmas Tree

If you have chosen an artificial tree, you do not have to worry about problems with oil or sap irritating your fur baby’s mouth. However, even artificial trees have needles that can cause problems. The material of the trees varies and so do the symptoms.

Keeping Your Fur Baby Safe From Tree Decorations

The two main tree decorations are lights and ornaments. These eye-catching items often intrigue our fur babies and can cause serious harm.

The lights, especially those that flicker and flash, easily catch their attention. Both electrical burns and the hazard of choking are real risks from electrical lights.

Ornaments may appear to be toys to your fur baby. Unfortunately, those breakable items are often too enticing to be ignored. Glass baubles or brightly painted keepsakes made of any material are eye-catchers.

If they are knocked to the floor and shatter into small pieces. The broken ornaments can cut paws or even be swallowed and cut up intestines. This is a potentially serious event that can even lead to death.

Keeping Your Fur Baby Safe From Holiday Plants

There are risks beyond the Christmas tree and its decorations. Several plants associated with Christmas are toxic and can cause serious problems for your fur baby if ingested.

You will want to avoid decorating with the four plants considered to be the most dangerous ones. They are Amaryllis, Holly, Lilies, and Mistletoe.

Besides the star attraction of the Christmas season, other holiday plants can take the stage with causing toxicity in your pet. Avoid these four most dangerous plants when decorating for the holidays:

The Amaryllis bulb is highly toxic to dogs as well as to cats. It causes a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • salivation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • decreased appetite
  • lethargy
  • tremors
Amaryllis, red and white
Beautiful Plant with a bulb that is toxic to dogs

Holly berries themselves are not extremely toxic but they do cause injury via its sharp and pointed leaves. The plant contains saponins, a compound similar to soap.

This compound can cause significant gastrointestinal upset in dogs. If your dog swallows sharp, pointed Holly leaves with saponins you may see bloody vomit. It is also toxic to cats.

mail, christmas, holly
Holly Berry With Sharp Pointed Leaves

Mistletoe can be highly toxic to both dogs and cats. It only takes one sprig to cause significant problems. The most common symptoms are as follows.

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea,
  • low blood pressure
  • difficulty breathing
  • a low heart rate
mistle toe, berries, plant
Mistle Toe is Toxic


Lilies are especially toxic to cats. Because so many of our readers also have a cat in the family, I am including this in my list. Cats are so sensitive to lilies that they can go into renal failure just from grooming the pollen from a lily plant from their fur.

Other symptoms associated with lily toxicity are as follows.

  • gastrointestinal upset
  • heart arrhythmias
  • convulsions.
  • lily
    Lovely Lily Is Toxic to Cats

Must You Worry About Keeping Your Fur Baby Safe From Poinsettias?

Many people worry about their fur baby being poisoned by their traditional Christmas plant, the Poinsettia. Although the sap can cause them to have vomiting and diarrhea, it rarely happens.
The amount they would have to ingest to cause significant poisoning is massive. The sap tastes so awful and is so irritating to the oral cavity and throat that most of them will not ingest enough to do much damage. Still, I would keep it out of their reach to be safe.
flower, poinsettia, plant
Poisonous Poinsettia?

Keeping Your Fur Baby Safe From Christmas Plant Toxicities 

Here are a few tips on how to avoid an emergency visit to the veterinary clinic or hospital during the Christmas holiday season.

  • Use gates designed as barricades for babies or small children to keep your fur baby from reaching your Christmas tree.
  • Keep holiday plants that may be toxic where they cannot be reached. Place them up high or maybe in a room where only humans are allowed.
  • If you opt for artificial plants instead of real ones, remember that if they chew and swallow foreign bodies, they develop an obstruction or react to the materials of which they are constructed.

If In Doubt, Call For Advice

The ASPCA has a list of both non-toxic and toxic plants. Check out this list before adding plants to your home. However, if your fur baby ingests any part of a plant you should contact either your vet or animal poison control. They can best advise you on what to do.

If you think they may have eaten a plant you know to be toxic, call ASPCA immediately. The  ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number is (888) 426-4435.




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As Wife, Mother of 5, and Nana of many more, I have known and loved many dogs who were treasured members of our family. My education, experiences in showing, breeding, and developing pedigree-based breeding programs for others gives me a strong background upon which to base articles of interest to most dog lovers. However, it is my great love for dogs that gives me the passion to share them with other dog lovers.


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