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Are Christmas Trees Toxic to Pets?

A young girl wears a Santa hat and sits with a dog and cat under a Christmas tree.
LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a real Christmas tree, and of course, there’s the joy of heading to a lot to pick it out and lovingly decorating it in your home. But if you have pets, are live Christmas trees safe?

While real Christmas trees have often been referred to as toxic to dogs and cats, they have a bit more of a bad reputation than they deserve.

The three major types of Christmas trees—fir, spruce, and pine—have mild toxicity to dogs and cats. If your pet ingests the needles or bits of a branch, it can experience oral irritation due to the tree’s oils and sap as well as gastrointestinal upset upon attempting to digest them. Even simply licking the tree can cause the same issues.

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Those who want to avoid potential stress can opt for an artifical tree.

Eating the needles or licking the tree are the most obvious reasons you’d think a tree might be bad for your cat or dog, but there’s one other thing to consider: the water. Many people add fertilizer or other additives to their tree’s water in order to keep them as fresh as possible. However, many of those same fertilizers and additives are truly toxic to your pets and should be avoided.

Before you give up on having a real Christmas tree, though, simply brushing against or being around a real Christmas tree won’t harm your pet. The key is to keep a close eye on your fur baby. If they show an inclination for chewing on needles, licking the tree, or drinking its water, it might be best to rethink a real tree next year and take measures to keep them away from your current.

If you haven’t gotten your Christmas tree yet or are considering a real tree next year, it is possible to do so with pets, but you’ll need to be extra cautious.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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