Christmas Safety Refresher: Your Christmas Tree Can Be a Hazard for Your Pets

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When your dog sees a Christmas tree in your house, they just can’t believe it. Such luck. Sticks! A place to pee! All the shiny-shiny! So here’s our Christmas safety refresher just to remind you of all the hazards your tree poses for your pets.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Peeing on the Christmas Tree

pomeranian in christmas hat reminds me of dog who peed on christmas tree

My cousin had the cutest little Pomeranian name Rocky (lol) that hated to go out in the snow to pee. If she didn’t watch him, he would just stay on the deck and urinate on the post. So when Christmas came and she set up the tree, he thought she was the kindest person in the whole world to bring the potty in to him! She had a difficult time changing his mind. Fortunately, she had 3 little ones that tattled on him every time he used the Christmas tree as a potty. (Very excitedly and very loudly which added to the Christmas chaos. 😆)

Why is my dog peeing on my Christmas tree?

Dogs urinate on the Christmas tree for many reasons, not just because they hate to have to go out into snow like Rocky. In fact, if your tree was safe in past years, new scents on the tree this year might be more than they can handle.

  • a tree from a Christmas farm may have wildlife or other dog urine on it
  • wild animals may have lived in your live tree
  • a fake tree may have the scent of mouse urine from storage

Extra tip: cover the tree stand so they can’t drink water from it – this is another indication to them that this is their territory – thank you very much, you are so kind!

How can I stop my dog from peeing on the Christmas tree?

  • reinforce that you want your dog to continue to urinate outside by taking them out and rewarding them with treats after the tree is up
  • keep your dog on a leash or a long lead whenever they are in the room with the Christmas tree, especially at other people’s homes
  • put up a barrier around the tree like a play yard or into the room with the tree by using a gate – tall wrapped boxes with ribbons and bows are a barrier and a decoration 😉
  • watch the dog constantly, and when they head in that direction call them back to you
  • The Bark also suggests that if your dog is afraid of the vacuum to set it beside the tree
  • use the “leave it” command when they go near
  • if you can’t prevent access to the room while away, you may want to crate your dog
  • if your dog does pee on the Christmas tree, clean it with an enzymatic cleaner so it won’t smell like urine and entice him to continue using it
  • to get your dog used to the tree being in their environment, sit with them beside it while they chew on or play with a toy, petting them and making a different behavior with the tree normal
  • ISCDT recommends using a belly band* (dog diapers) if you absolutely cannot stop them from urinating on the tree

Tipping the Christmas Tree Over

Dogs love to jump on the tree or pull the branches and the tree tips over.

Many cats are like our cat Ferguson who absolutely loved to climb the tree, and over it goes.

There was no way he was going to stop (especially when we always laughed and said “you’re so cute” every time he did it).

To prevent tipping, my husband put a hook in the side of the window casing and we tied the tree to the wall. It worked perfectly, but I still had to keep putting the balls back on the tree. 🙄

Another preventative measure is to use weights on the bottom of the tree.

cat in christmas tree

Christmas Lights

cat checking out lights on christmas tree

We love to put Christmas lights on the tree and fairy lights all over the house. It’s a magical time. Cats and dogs find these new decorations enticing, too. Puppies especially love to chew on them.

But don’t count cats out. We had a ginger cat Milo that was addicted to chewing wires on lamps, the vacuum while I was using it, even the kids’ earbuds. (They was many a time they fell asleep listening to music only to wake up without the wires connected to their ears!)

Your new puppy may try to play tug of war with a string of lights and get tangled in them.

Purina recommends cable tying loose wires to make them difficult for puppies to pull. Remember to turn off the lights when you leave home so they aren’t an enticement for a bored pet.

Tinsel & Christmas Decorations

German shorthaired pointer puppy with red tinsel

Warning from the SPCA: “tinsel, angel hair and ribbon when eaten can get wrapped up in a pet’s intestines and create a blockage, causing serious and potentially fatal damage to their digestive system.”

Put your treasured and glass ornaments at the top of the tree where dog’s tails can’t reach them. Or better still – use shatter proof ornaments. Make sure plastic and other decorations are not toxic.

One year there were 5 of us who all had toddlers enjoying their first Christmas as well as pets. We all solved the problem of Christmas decorations a different way.

  • I thought having edible decorations was the way to go, so we hung apples, gingerbread cookies and popcorn garland. My tree was bare all holiday season as high as my daughter and my dog could reach.
  • One friend put a play yard fence around the tree so the toddler and dog could still see it but couldn’t touch it. However the cat had no problem jumping the fence.
  • Another friend put the tree in the playpen which sounds like a good idea but in practice it was unstable, the baby and pets could still reach it, and it just looked weird. lol
  • Another put the tree up as usual and spent the holiday being the “no” mom, chasing baby and pets away from all decorations.
  • And lastly, we all agreed that the friend who was way too tired to decorate that year had the most relaxing Christmas even if it wasn’t as “festive” as ours was.

How to Prevent Your Pets from Unwrapping the Presents

daschund unwrapping christmas presents

Pretty paper, perfect bows, some gift that smell like food are all more than pets can handle. There are some dogs & cat who just can’t stay away from the presents under the tree.

  • Don’t put the gifts under the tree until Christmas eve – it could prove too much for all of you and let everyone know what their presents are which is a disappointment.
  • Supervise pets because in the commotion of unwrapping they will want to as well.
  • Don’t put your dog’s presents under the tree because they will smell them and it will prove too hard to resist.

Here’s what I did to prevent cats, dogs and kids from opening presents early. Each child had a very distinguishable print on the wrapping paper, different from the other two siblings. Our house had a vaulted ceiling so I could put the presents up high on the wall behind the kitchen cabinets (open concept house). The kids could have fun looking at the sizes of the packages, knowing which ones were theirs, but no one could reach them until Christmas morning. Worked wonderfully!

More is better:

I hope the reminder of the hazards of the Christmas tree helped you have a safe & merry Christmas! Here are some more Christmas safety articles, if you’re interested.

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Christmas Safety Refresher: Your Christmas Tree Can Be a Hazard for Your Pets