Keep Your Dog Safe This Christmas

As we “Deck the halls with boughs of holly” this Christmas, we bring a whole host of decorations and food into our homes. This brightens up those gloomy winter evenings and provides a bit of Christmas  cheer; but we are inadvertently bringing a whole host of potential dangers and poisons into the lives of our dogs. With careful consideration, we can reduce the risks that Christmas decorations and food pose to our canine friends. Here are some things to consider over the holiday period.

The Christmas Tree & Seasonal Plants

  • The sap of a fir tree has a low level of toxicity if consumed by your dog, resulting in vomiting and/or diarrhoea . The sap is present in the wood and needles of your Christmas tree.
  • Fir needles can cause irritation to your dogs paws. If consumed, many are sharp enough to perforate a dog’s intestine. Vacuum daily to reduce this risk and keep the tree watered to reduce the fall of needles.
  • The water in your tree stand will contain sap and any additive you use to make the tree last longer. Keep your water covered and do not allow your dog to drink this water.
  • Baubles and tinsel may be of interest to your dog. Many baubles shatter on compression, producing sharp shards the pose a danger if stood on, chewed or consumed. Tinsel presents a very real choking hazard.
  • Chocolate decorations on a Christmas tree are very tempting to your dog. Chocolate can be toxic to your dog, plus many of these type of decoration are wrapped in foil which can become trapped in your dog’s intestine if consumed.
  • Light wires present a trip hazard which can destabilise your tree. There is also the danger of electrocution through chewing live wires.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all toxic to dogs and may cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Keep them out of reach and be aware of fallen leaves and berries.

If your pet has chewed on the Christmas tree or other seasonal plants, monitor for any changes of behavior (excessive licking, salivating), changes in appetite and water consumption, changes in activity levels, the onset of vomiting and/or diarrhoea. If any of these changes are present always consult your vet.


Whilst we have covered the dangers presented by baubles, tinsel and seasonal plants; other decorations pose a threat to you dog.

  • Low level candles pose a threat to your dog though burns, but also pose a fire risk if knocked over.
  • Ingestion of ornaments can cause gastrointestinal blockage or rupture. Depending on what materials were used to make the ornament, toxicity may result if ingested.
  • Many lights or mechanical decorations use batteries. All batteries are potentially toxic. If a battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. If they are swallowed whole it is possible they will cause a blockage.

If your pet has ingested any of your Christmas decorations always consult your vet.

Food & Drink

We all love a bit of Christmas food, but much of our traditional fare presents a very real danger to our dogs. We also tend to tempt them a little more than usual; a tub of chocolate under the tree, a bowl of nuts on the hearth or a plate of mince pies on the coffee table. All of these things can be poisonous to our 4 legged friend.

  • Raisins are in lots of foods at Christmas (mince pies, fruit cakes, Christmas pudding, etc.) and their consumption presents a potential health threat to dogs. Their toxicity can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases kidney failure.
  • Certain types of nuts can cause toxic poisoning, an upset stomach or an obstruction in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
  • Chocolate intoxication is commonly seen around the Christmas holidays. Depending on the type and amount of chocolate ingested, the signs seen can range from vomiting, increased thirst, abdominal discomfort and restlessness to severe agitation, muscle tremors, irregular heart rhythm, high body temperature, seizures and death.
  • Dogs are far more sensitive to alcohol than humans are. Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication. Alcohol intoxication commonly causes vomiting, loss of coordination, disorientation and stupor. In severe cases, coma, seizures and death may occur.
  • Christmas dinner is for humans, not dogs. There are many ingredients in your average Christmas dinner that contain compounds that are toxic to dogs. Your stuffing may contain nuts, onions and garlic; your Christmas pudding contains nuts, raisins and alcohol.
  • Turkey bones should NEVER be given to your pet. Cooked boned splinter; any sharp point on a bone can scrape and cut your dog’s gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus down to the rectum, causing damage on its way in or out. A sharp bone can even cause a perforation in your dog’s intestine. Bones may also get stuck in part of the tract and cause a blockage that does not allow food to pass.

If your dog consumes any of the above items and displays any symptoms always consult your vet.

Have a Wonderful Christmas With Your Dog

There are plenty of treats available at pet shops and other retailers that are pet safe, so don’t be tempted into feeding them something that may do them harm this Christmas. All your dog wants for Christmas is some time with you and a good long walk.

Merry Christmas from all at The Way of the Dog.

Contribution by Heppiness

Image credit Angie McKaig Flikr

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