Dogs and Christmas Trees: American Christmas Tree Association Offers Ways for Both to Peacefully Co-exist During the Holiday Season

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Your beloved family dog can be safe around your Christmas tree this holiday season by taking a few simple precautions.

Your beloved family dog can stay safe around your Christmas tree by taking a few simple precautions. - Jami Warner, Executive Director of the American Christmas Tree Association

A Christmas tree is an enduring symbol of the holiday season but to a dog, it can be an irresistible lure. Even the most well-trained, best behaved dogs can get a little over-excited by the colors, lights and scents of a Christmas tree so it’s important to make sure your dog is safe and sound around your holiday decorations, said Jami Warner, Executive Director of the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA).

Here are some great tips, with help from the folks at, to keep your pup safe during the holidays:


Don’t let your 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 she ingests. The fir tree oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach and tree needles also can obstruct or puncture her gastrointestinal tract.


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. Plain fresh water is the best choice.


Don’t string the bottom of your tree with lights; some types can get very hot and burn your dog. Firmly tape cords to the wall or floor and check them regularly for chew marks or punctures.        


Be careful 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.        


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.


Don’t trim your tree with tinsel. If swallowed, it can block the dog’s intestines.        


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:

Small pieces of plastic could be bitten off and cause an intestinal blockage or mouth irritation if ingested.    

Tree Placement:

Create a “present” barrier around your tree with a pile of wrapped boxes, even empty ones, to block access to the tree. Place your tree in a room that can be closed off from the rest of the house, if possible. Another option is to install a baby or pet gate in the doorway to prevent entry to the tree room, or put low-lattice fencing around the tree and secure it so it can’t be knocked over. Depending on the dog’s size and energy level, it might be worth considering tabletop Christmas trees so you can enjoy the holiday season while making sure your dog can’t get to it.

“You can still enjoy your Christmas trees and keep your beloved family dog safe this Christmas with a little bit of preparation and some common sense caution,” said Warner.

About ACTA:

The American Christmas Tree Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the public with factual data to help consumers make informed decisions about Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry. For more information, please contact ACTA at

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