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Keeping your dogs safe at Christmas

Dog training Tags: Christmas

Keeping your dogs safe at Christmas

Christmas can be an enjoyable time for all the family, including the dogs! However, it can also be dangerous for dogs if you are not careful and do not take precautions to ensure you keep your furry family members safe.

With the holiday season comes visitors, music, decorations, gifts, games, and treats, which are part of the festivities and bring joy to people, but it is important to recognise that these can be potentially harmful to our beloved pets.

Read on to find out what to look out for and how to avoid potential harm to ensure your dog has a safe and happy Christmastime.

Gifts & Wrapping

In the lead-up to Christmas, you will likely be wrapping presents. Be sure to keep any ribbon, sellotape, string, scissors, and bows out of your dog’s reach as these can be potentially harmful to dogs if ingested or if string or ribbon gets wrapped around them.

Once the gifts are wrapped, keep them stored away until it is time to open them. Do not put gifts under the tree and leave them out of sight until Christmas day.
Never leave dogs unsupervised with gifts, as they may be tempted to open them and eat something they should not, which could be dangerous.

Christmas Tree

Dogs can be boisterous and inquisitive, which can be dangerous during the festive season, as they may knock over the Christmas tree. When selecting or preparing a tree, you need to make sure it is safe and secure. You can buy trees with weighted bases or if you already have a tree, you can attach weights to the bottom of it to try and prevent it from crashing down when your dog gets a little too excited or curious.

If you want to be extra cautious, you could secure your tree to the ceiling or wall. It is important to bear in mind that some fir trees can be toxic to dogs due to the oils that they produce. If ingested, these oils can cause dogs to become sick or drool excessively.

If you feel the need to get a fir tree, get a non-drop variety, as loose needles can get stuck in dogs’ paws or cause internal damage if ingested.

To avoid poisoning, put your tree in a room in which your dogs do not go in, or at least never leave them unsupervised with the tree.

Don’t forget, some boy dogs like to cock their leg up a tree!


When decorating your house and tree, it is important to keep potentially harmful decorations and any packaging out of reach from your dog.
Avoid using tinsel or angel hair as these can be particularly damaging to dogs should they ingest any as they can cause blockages.

Glass baubles can break and cause your dog to become injured, as can some plastic baubles which may also be toxic to dogs if ingested. Therefore, you should opt for non-toxic, shatterproof plastic baubles.

If you do put any ornaments on the tree that are fragile or expensive, or that hold sentimental value, place these towards the top of the tree to avoid them getting knocked off.

Do not put edible items on the tree, such as chocolates or sweets. These will not only tempt the dog to jump up at the tree and may cause it to collapse but are also toxic to dogs.


The lights that you wrap around your tree can also pose a threat to dogs, as many like to chew on the wires, or may become wrapped up in them.
If you do use lights, be sure to tidy up any excess wire using cable ties, and always unplug them before leaving the dogs unsupervised, or use battery-operated fairy lights and make sure the battery pack is safely out of reach.


Many of the foods we love to indulge in at Christmas are poisonous or toxic to dogs. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, sultanas, garlic, and onions are all harmful to dogs, as well as some nuts.

Keep any foods out of sight which may be harmful to your dog, including Christmas pudding, mince pies, onion gravy, and stuffing.

Before giving turkey to your dog, ensure there are no bones in the meat as small bones and any cooked bones, which will likely splinter, can cause internal damage.


During the holiday season, you are likely to have more visitors than your dog is used to which can be stressful for them.

It is important to stick to a routine as much as you can, to try and reduce stress and ensure they are relaxed before visitors arrive.

Once visitors arrive, give your dog a tasty, long-lasting treat, such as a stuffed Kong, to keep them occupied.

Ensure your dog has a safe space to go for some peace and quiet away from any guests, with their bed and some fresh water.

If you have any concerns regarding Christmastime with your dog, please get in touch with our team at WitsEnd on 0116 244 2455, or email [email protected] for expert advice.

WitsEnd’s team of professionals can help you, through training and expert advice, to get the very best out of your pet, and make it fun in the process!

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
Dr Shahad Mohammed