5 Surprising Christmas Dangers for Dogs

Jack Russell Terrier with Christmas Ornament

As we approach the holiday season, many of us are caught up in the fun and frenzy of planning, preparing and readying the home. This time of year often means changed schedules and routines for your dog.

Some of us may consider travel as you plan to visit relatives and enjoy time away. Or perhaps, host a large dinner celebration where many people are present.

How do the holidays stack up from the point of view of your family pet? There are several Christmas dangers for dogs that you should be aware of.

The Common Dangers to Dogs During the Holiday Season   

Puppy standing beside a Christmas tree surrounded by wrapped gifts

The change in activity might be confusing for him, leading up to holiday events. Maintaining a sense of calm will reduce stress and keep him comfortable with the change in activities.

Here are five ways to prepare for your family pet so he’s included in the festivities and safeguarded in the variation to his routine.   

Are Juniper Berries Toxic to Dogs?

Juniper branch with red berries on snowy green background

There are several holiday treats that although we get excited about having them around, are not safe for dogs. A few of the most common are Juniper Berries, Mistletoe Berries, and Holly Berries. The ASPCA has put together a list of items that are toxic to your pet that present a seasonal danger.

A few of the most common types of dangers to our furry friends during this time include falling trees, mistletoe, candles, wires and chocolate.    

The Gift of a Tree & Dogs Eating Pine Tree Branches

2 small wrapped Christmas gifts with plaid bows surrounded by decorations

There is nothing more attractive to a dog than a beautifully decorated tree, laden with tinsel, and ornaments. There may be gifts placed for the family underneath, but danger may lurk in the form of edible presents like chocolate.

Well decorated Christmas trees are beautiful. They bring cheer into your home and embrace the holiday spirit, but what happens if your dog accidentally knocks it over? This not only creates a mess but may also cause injury and scare your dog. If the tree is a real one there could also be spillage of tree water. This can attract bacteria and needles that could harm him. To avoid accidents, securely anchor your tree so it cannot be tipped or pushed over.     

In addition sometimes dogs start eating pine tree branches. This isn’t considered fatal, but can make them sick.

The Norfolk pine, Araucaria heterophylla, appears naturally in temperate forests and is cultivated throughout the United States. It is grown for landscaping purposes and is commonly sold as a Christmas tree. While the exact mechanism of toxicity is unknown, some dogs develop an upset stomach after eating pine wood. The poison is not considered fatal, although vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy may follow ingestion.

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Mistletoe Toxicity In Dogs

Bundle of mistletoe tied with red ribbon on wood background

Although mistletoe is a tradition in Christmas decor it can be a danger to your pets. Mistletoe can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems as well as cardiovascular problems if ingested by your dog. A compromise around this might be to keep mistletoe as a decoration but use an artificial variety to keep him safe. There are some great options that look like the real deal and eliminate the danger of live mistletoe.     

Get Dog Friendly Candles   

3 red pillar candles with a gold star ornament and pine branch bundle

Candle flames offer comfort and cheer that brighten a room with a small glow or provide warmth on a chilly day. Indeed, a flickering candle flame can be most fascinating to a dog. Unfortunately, candles provide a hazard if your pet ventures too close to it. It would be important to replace the traditional live flicker of a candle with safer candle alternatives to prevent burns.

If alternative versions of candles are not an option, and you are present when while they are lit, be aware of your dog’s movements. Distinguish candles when you leave the room or keep them at a height where they can’t be reached.    

Don’t be the One to Say “Help! My Dog Ate Tinsel”

gold tinsel with stars garland

Ornaments and lights are necessities to tree trimming and look great during the holiday season. It’s not surprising they can also be harmful to pets. We all love a well-lit tree, but they often require lots of wires. Be extra careful to keep these contained and out of reach to avoid electric shocks.

Ornaments can be fragile and easily broken. This can cause cuts and injuries if they are stepped on or worse if your pet tries to eat it, resulting in damage to internal organs. Move them to a section that’s high enough so that they will not fall and break. As for tinsel, although it looks pretty and sparkly it has been known to cause intestinal blockage in animals if consumed. It would be wise to eliminate its use completely.

Chocolate  Toxicity in Dogs

stack of peppermint bark chocolate  on table surrounded by candy canes and variety of decorations

Where would we be without the smooth taste of chocolate during the holidays?  Who doesn’t love chocolate? Did you know that chocolate is extremely lethal to dogs? While you are consuming, keep it out of reach and safely stowed away when finished.

While you are in the throes of planning for the holidays, we encourage you to build a comforting atmosphere for you and pets and enjoy the season safely.      

The Bottom Line on Christmas Dangers for Dogs

Beagle wearing antlers laying in front of Christmas tree

Christmas is a fun time of year and dogs usually love hanging out in the kitchen in the “drop zone” as we prepare holiday meals. But it’s important to be aware of toxic and dangerous items for dogs as we prepare for the holidays.

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Hi! My name is Heather Hallman. I’m the mother of two beautiful girls and a MAJOR passionate pet parent. I can hardly wait to bring you the BEST resources and information that I've found for our fur-babies.