Christmas is a time that fills your home with all sorts of holiday things. Putting up a Christmas tree is one of the best parts, and pets agree. So, before you set up the tree and start lining up the decorations, take a few minutes to consider these Christmas tree safety tips.

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

Here are a few pet safety hazards along with some precautions you can take.

Branches and Needles

A live tree can be especially hazardous. Dogs and cats like to chew on the limbs, and the fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth tissue, causing such symptoms as drooling and vomiting. Also, if your pet is chewing on the branches, there is a good chance he is also swallowing some needles.

When ingested, pine needles can get caught in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining or bunching together and causing an intestinal obstruction. Both can have deadly consequences. You should be careful with artificial trees as well, because they can cause the same kind of obstruction, and pets are likely to chew those crunchy needles, too.

The best solution is limiting your pets’ access to the area where you are setting up your Christmas tree. In some cases, this can be achieved with a dog pen that surrounds the tree.


A popular tree decoration called flocking, or imitation snow, is making it’s rounds around Instagram this year. Flocking can cause serious problems when significant amounts of it are swallowed. If you are going to have a tree in your home, it is best to at least get a non-flocked tree.

Christmas Tree Preservatives

In addition, some trees are treated with chemical preservatives to keep them fresh longer. These chemicals leach into the water in the tree base, making the water poisonous to drink. And pets will definitely drink the water if the base is left uncovered. You can cover it with a festive tree skirt, or you can use a towel, plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Christmas Tree Lights

Bright, shiny lights are hard to resist, but they can be dangerous to your dog. Not only can your dog get tangled in the wires, but if she’s a chewer, there’s a risk of electrical shock. If you put lights on your Christmas tree, leave the bottom branches bare.

Electric cord injuries are very damaging to the mouth tissue and can lead to long-term problems with eating, amongst other issues, including difficulty breathing and death. Check the electric light cords frequently for signs of chewing (also a fire hazard).


Your big, happy dog with her big, wagging tail can be lethal to delicate Christmas decorations. Broken decorations may be a choking hazard, or cause paw or mouth injuries.

Hang your delicate and most treasured ornaments on the uppermost branches of the tree, and secure them to the branches tightly. In general, it is easier on the whole household if you select tree ornaments that are not likely to shatter. For delicate, glass or priceless ornaments, you might consider creating an area where they can be displayed that is out of reach for your dog or cat. You can hang these from a garland that is placed across a mantel or over a doorway or window, or you can hang them in shadowboxes on the wall, for example.


Tinsel may be cheap and flashy, but it’s a serious hazard to small dogs and cats, who often can’t resist eating it and therefore risk choking on it or getting it stuck in their intestines if they swallow it. If your pet ingests even a few strands of tinsel—and pets do this more often than you might guess—she is highly likely to suffer the ill, and even deadly effects, of an intestinal obstruction. The same goes for edible ornaments, such as popcorn and cranberry strings and candy canes. The strings can tear the intestines, endangering your pet’s life. Leave these things off your tree, or your pet will be climbing the tree to get to them.

Go for other types of pretty decor instead, such as paper, wood, or vegan felt decorations, which are less tempting than the super-shiny stuff.

dog and cat sitting under christmast tree

Don’t Stress

Much like knowing that your dog or cat will inevitably scratch your sofa at some point, it’s good to accept that some pets might climb or eatn trees no matter what you do. So do the best you can to set up a beautiful (and safe) tree, but don’t fret too much if kitty or fido decide to “redecorate.” Life is unpredictable with four legged companions—that’s half the fun of it!