Our article for totally dublin december 2013:
Celebrating Christmas with your dog for the first time? Some important advice about the dangerous love affair the dog could potentially have with your Christmas tree.
Molly, my first beagle thought the tree was her new bestie. She was instinctively drawn to the inviting smell of pine needles, the sparkling lights and the fluffy ornaments. She loved her first tree. Unfortunately it was in my mothers tree and the dog got banished from the house during our visit. Your dog may not look twice at the new addition to the living room but it’s better to be safe than sorry – age, temperament, and energy level all play a role in how much mischief she might find herself in. Even the most well behaved canine can succumb to the temptation of a Christmas tree and its trimmings. Short of 24/7 supervision, your next best defence to ensure her safety is to take precautions that minimize or eliminate the risks. :
Needles: They are not digestible and can be mildly toxic depending on how much are ingested. The fir tree oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach and cause her to vomit or drool excessively. Tree needles also can obstruct or puncture her gastrointestinal tract.
Water: As we discovered in Muttugly last Christmas, the dogs were very fond of drinking out of the water stand. Tree water can poison your dog if it’s has any preservatives, pesticides or fertilizers added to it. So either forgo a water stand or use a covered one.#
Lights: Don’t string the bottom of your tree with lights, tape cords to the wall or floor and check regularly for chew marks or punctures. Dogs who chew can get electric shocks and mouth burns. Chewing on wire also can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) which can be fatal.
Ornaments: Avoid decorating your tree with anything you think your dog might like to play with. Again, not the smartest move at Muttugly last year when we decorated the tree with dog toys. They lasted two days before we replaced them with festive paper ornaments.
Tinsel: If swallowed, it can block her intestines causing decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss. Surgery is often necessary to remove the tinsel. Avoid!
If possible put your tree in a room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. When you are not at home or unable to supervise her, confine your dog to her crate or a separate room to keep her out of mischief.