Dogs are naturally drawn to the allure of Christmas trees, and that can get dangerous. There are a few things you can do: using training techniques, choosing specific Christmas trees, blocking them with pet gates, along with other ways and hacks on how to keep dog away from Christmas tree and other decorations.
Why Are Christmas Trees Dangerous for Dogs?
A Christmas tree by itself is not poisonous to dogs. What's more dangerous are the oils and needles of it, in case your pet swallows any of that. Oils may cause stomach upset, and needles may puncture a dog's digestive tract or become an obstruction.
Moreover, it's not just about the Christmas tree alone; decorations, lights, water, ornaments and gifts on and around the tree may be hazardous to dogs as well. Some dog owners still hang Christmas chocolate on the tree, which may fall down and then consumed by your pet.
Learning how to keep dog away from Christmas tree is more than just putting up a pet gate around the decoration. You need to keep the dog away from all aspects of the tree, including the ornaments, needles and the Christmas tree water.
How to Keep Dog Away from Christmas Tree
Make sure that your dog doesn’t get their mouth close to the fallen Christmas tree needles. If a dog chews on or swallows them, your pet may be in danger, since needles are not digestible and are mildly toxic to dogs. The degree of problems that can ensue depends on your dog’s size and on the number of needles ingested.
Oils of fir tree needles can irritate a dog's stomach and mouth, and cause excessive drooling and vomiting, which can present a real danger to the puncture of gastrointestinal tract.
Call your vet immediately if you know that your dog has ingested needles from your Christmas tree or if you spot some of these symptoms in your pet.
2. Artificial Christmas Trees
There are some artificial Christmas trees are pet-friendly and less dangerous to dogs.
However, most types of fake Christmas trees aren't much better than real ones. In fact, if yours isn't a dog-friendly fake Christmas tree, then you have to be even more careful.
Artificial Christmas trees can become more brittle as they get older. Oftentimes, small pieces of aluminum or plastic break off the tree, and if that stuff is swallowed by your dog, they can cause an intestinal blockage, or at least cause a slight mouth irritation.
3. Ornaments and Gifts
There are dangerous decorations that will be around your home on Christmas. Ornaments can be a hazard for a dog, especially edible ones which attract a dog. Your pet may knock the tree over in their attempts to get to the ornament.
Avoid edible ornaments altogether, and skip glass ornaments, too. The latter ones may get broken and cut your dog’s paws. If a dog somehow manages to eat them, that will cause intestinal blockage or cut a dog's intestines.
Some Christmas tree ornaments can even be deadly to dogs due to the chemicals used in their manufacturing. It's best to use natural and non-toxic decorations made out of wood, fabric, even pine cones, or other pet-friendly decorations.
Finally, keep the area around the Christmas tree clean and free of any discarded strings, small toys or ribbons. If swallowed, they can cause a bowel obstruction, or become a choking hazard. That's especially true of small Christmas toys, or their pieces.
Christmas tree water, which is meant to keep the tree fresh, can poison your dog.
Generally, it's not just plain water; it's full of pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives and other agents like aspirin. A popular additive in tree water is Plantabbs Prolong Tree Preservative. These things are added there to keep the tree alive for longer. To keep your dog safe and away from this water, use a covered tree water dish.
Christmas tree lights can also be dangerous for a dog, so don't string the bottom of the tree with them. Some get extremely hot and may burn your dog.
A dog chewing on cords or lights will result in mouth burns or light electric shock. Your pet might even get pulmonary edema from chewing on a wire, which can be lethal.
Instead of hanging them loosely, tape the cords firmly to the wall or floor, and regularly check on them for chew marks. For some parts, you can use cord protectors.
Avoid decorating your Christmas with tinsel. It's one of the easiest things for a dog to get to, and that can be dangerous.
If your dog swallows tinsel, it can lead to blocked intestines or cause diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss. Also, depending on the size, surgery might be needed to remove the tinsel from a dog’s stomach.
Secure Your Christmas Tree Properly
Many factors can play a role in your dog’s level of interest in the Christmas tree, and especially in the potential mischief that might ensue. Age, temperament, and energy level will all determine how much trouble a dog can cause, as well as your dog's size.
Use a Gate or Small Fence
Preventing your dog from getting close to the Christmas tree altogether is key. It's best to put the Christmas tree in a room you can isolate from the rest of the house. Another way is to install a pet gate in the doorway. Also, when you cannot supervise your dog, confine them in a crate or a separate room.
Another solution is to use low-lattice fencing around the Christmas tree, or a cute picket fence, like this one. That way your dog is able to look at the tree, but it won’t knock it over.
Pick the Best Location
The location of the Christmas tree matters and depends on your dog’s size. If you have a miniature dog or a puppy, then put the tree on a table or a stool. That way your dog cannot reach the Christmas tree. However, this won't work for very tall trees.
Secure the Christmas Tree to the Wall or Ceiling
You may need to secure the Christmas tree firmly so the dog can’t tip it over. Most recommend to secure it to the wall or even a ceiling using an eye bolt, or a molly hook, together with a strong fishing wire.
Choose a location that prevents your pooch from seeing the “tie down”, like the wall behind the tree. A dog will not be able to do anything about the tree, and you won't have to worry about your pet tipping the tree over.
Even if you can’t secure the tree, pick a location where the Christmas tree will stay standing even after an “attack” by your pup. Standing it in the very corner of a room may be a good idea, and it will also be a low traffic area where your dog won’t usually run.
Additional Christmas Tree Safety Tips for Dogs
The best tip on how to keep dog away from Christmas tree is to supervise your pet and redirect the dog's behavior. If you see that your dog is sniffing the tree, tell your pet “No”, call them to you and then reward them with a tasty treat for being obedient.
Another thing you can do is to spray the lower branches of a Christmas tree with either a safe dog repellent, or a homemade solution of 3 oz. of water mixed with five drops of cinnamon essential oil. Do this twice a week so it's always effective. A dog will stay from the Christmas tree since they won't like the strong smells of cinnamon.
A dog’s sense of smell can be used as a weakness in other ways, too. For example, you can use Vicks Vapo Rub, which has a strong menthol smell, and will work as a repellent for a dog. Dip some cotton balls in the ointment and put them in the lower branches of the Christmas tree.
Put aluminum foil on the floor around the tree. Puppies in particular will avoid the area because they don’t like walking on a surface that they consider odd or weird.
If not foil, then use a soft “tacky mat” like this one to keep dog away from Christmas tree. Most pets don’t like to walk on sticky surfaces. An alternative similar option is a product called Sticky Paws which is basically a double-sided tape that you can apply to carpets under and around a Christmas tree.
If your dog is somewhat shy, hang loud bells on your Christmas tree. This will probably spook your pet and they will not think about going near the tree again. Even if your pooch isn’t so easily scared, hang those bells anyway to hear when your pet is touching the tree.
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