December 10, 2019

Christmas is a time full of fun and festivities with lots going on, getting together with family, over indulging at Christmas dinner, party hats, silly streamers and more. But it’s also important to remember that all these changes can be very disconcerting for your dog – because they won’t understand why things have changed. There are also lots of things that can be risky or even dangerous for your dog at this time of year.

In the first installment of this Festive blog series, let’s look at how to dog proof your decorations and the all-important Christmas tree!


The thing that will truly get you into the Christmas spirit is when the tree goes up at home. It’s when things finally begin to feel festive and you can enjoy the decorations and Christmas lights.

However, your dog is probably thinking – “OMG – they brought me an indoor toilet!”

Now, fingers crossed your dog won’t actually perform on or near the tree – but it’s worth keeping an eye for the first few days, particularly if you have a real tree because, let’s face it, it is going to smell just like the right spot to carry out that particular task.

If your dog is wary of "new things" in the home, take it in stages to help them get used to the change. Put the tree up with no decorations for a day or two so they get used to it being there, before you go full on fairy-lights, tinsel and baubles. 


If you do have a real tree, be aware of pine needles dropping (yes even those non-drop trees) and make sure you keep them swept up so that they don’t get stuck in any paws (or feet!). They can also cause internal damage if swallowed by your dog. Be aware that some trees may release oils that could be harmful to your dog if injested e.g. from licking or chewing the branches.


Baubles, tinsel and other decorations are things to be aware of. Plastic or glass decorations could break and cause injury to your dog – from cuts around their mouths and paws, to internal injuries or blockages. They could also be choking hazard.

Make sure these aren't in reach of your dog to minimise the risk.


If you decorate your tree with chocolates or candy canes, make sure that you keep them out of reach of your dog. Chocolate and xylitol, which is often used as a sweetener, are both poisonous to dogs.

If your dog is inquisitive or likely to hunt out the chocolates, why not add them to the tree just before they are needed, and supervise your dog while nearby


Make sure that candles are out of reach of wagging tails, and never leave a lit candle with your dog unattended. As well as risk of burns to your pet, if they knock over a lit candle it could also cause a fire.


From tree lights to singing santas, we often have additional electrical items in our home over the Christmas period. 

If cables are chewed, your dog could get burns in their mouth and elsewhere, or suffer electric shock which could be fatal in some cases.

Make sure the cables and wires are tucked away out of reach of your dog behind other furniture, buy cord protectors and make sure they are away from areas your dog can access e.g. their crate.

You could also consider keeping all cables at height - which could mean only putting lights on the top half of your tree.

Many plants we use to decorate our homes at this time of year are poisonous to dogs & cats.

Poinsettia can cause vomiting, drooling or occasionally diarrhoea. This tends to be one of the less toxic plants at this time of year and symptons are normally mild

Holly berries are poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and drowsiness. Even if plants are placed out of reach, be aware that berries can quickly dry out and fall to the floor

Mistletoe can cause excessive drooling and upset digestion in small quantities, while larger quanties can cause heart problems, seizures, coma and can be fatal.

Make sure plants are kept out of reach of your dog and are securely fastened in place (e.g. mistletoe). Consider where leaves or berries may fall if they become detached.


If you are worried about your dog around your Christmas tree, a great tip is to use a child’s playpen. Set it up around the tree & presents so that your dog can’t access them, and enjoy a worry-free Christmas!

What other tips do you have to keep your dog safe at Christmas?

Read dog-proofing your Christmas Part Two: Naughty & Nice (Foods)
Read dog-proofing your Christmas part three: a Pawfect Xmas Day


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