Keeping your dog safe at Christmas - Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

Most of us don’t think about keeping our dogs safe with the Christmas tree and everything else at Christmas until something happens and you say” I never would have thought that could happen!”

Many of you have dogs that are veterans of many a Christmas past, then there are those of you that may have concerns facing your first Christmas with a new puppy or adolescent dog and yet many others that haven’t given safety for your dog a single thought.

Here are some tips to consider during the Christmas season to keep your dogs AND cats safe:

The Christmas Tree:

Keep the water stand covered.  Pine sap mixed with water makes a poisonous drink for your dog or cat.

Sweep up pine needles.  Eating pine needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation.

Tie the tree to the wall or ceiling to keep your dog or cat from pulling it over.

Tinsel is very dangerous for dogs.  Eating tinsel can cause serious intestinal obstruction that may require surgery if ingested.  Use ribbon up high on the tree instead of tinsel and garland.

The smell of a live tree may cause your dog or cat to urine mark.  It may help to bring the tree into an isolated indoor room for a day or so, so it smells more like the home.

Have pet treats ready to distract your pet from paying attention to the tree.

Start working on setting a boundary for your dog by doing ‘set ups” with your dog on leash as you take him to the tree.  It he begins to sniff out of idol curiosity, give him a GENTLE tug and say “Off” then redirect to a stuffed Kong toy or chew bone and praise him for taking the appropriate item.



Pick up any ornament hooks that fall.  If your dog eats an ornament hook, it can damage the intestines.

Better yet, replace ornament hooks with loops of string tied in a knot.

Glass ornaments should be placed on the upper half of the tree where dogs/cats can’t reach them.

Only use wooden or non-breakable ornaments down low, or better yet, only decorate the top 2/3 of your tree.


Don’t hang indoor lighting low, this will keep your dog or cat from becoming entangled in them.

Remember to unplug the lights when you’re not home to supervise your dog.

Some dogs might also be tempted to chew electric cords or other electric ornaments.

Presents:Dogs are very inquisitive.  Decorations on presents can be very tempting.  Take ribbons and string from packages.  Consider storing presents in a safe area until right before opening.

Don’t place edible presents under the tree—take it from someone who knows 🙂  dogs can smell them a mile away and they will rip them open and eat the contents.  (Jalapeno beef jerky was the culprit and a fast call to the vet!)

Don’t forget to give your dog or cat a present.  A stuffed Kong will keep them occupied when guests are over.

Don’t EVER give a puppy as a present.  A puppy who grows into a dog is a major commitment and owners must be prepared to make the commitment of time and energy it takes to successfully integrate a puppy/dog into a home.

Dog Activity:A tired dog is a good dog.  Do not forget to take your dog for his daily walk, preferably walks, especially before company arrives.

Give your dog a safe place to go – another room, a crate removed from the activity, somewhere your dog is used to and and feels safe so he can escape all the activity.

Have a safe, wonderful, blessed Christmas and hug those pups for me.

Jim Burwell

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