Is Your Dog Drinking Christmas Tree Water? Here’s Why It’s Dangerous

Bringing home a fresh-cut Christmas tree is a beloved tradition, but did you know that the water in the tree stand can be harmful to your furry friend? While it may seem harmless, dogs drinking Christmas tree water can lead to a host of unpleasant side effects. In this article, we’ll explore why Christmas tree water is bad for dogs and provide tips on how to keep your pup safe while still enjoying the holiday season.

A beagle wearing reindeer antlers sits in front of a Christmas tree in the living room

Why is Christmas Tree Water Bad for Dogs?

Using plain water to keep your tree hydrated is a common practice. However, it’s important to understand that this water can pose a risk to your furry friend. According to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), while a small amount of tree water may not cause any issues, continuous consumption can result in poisoning. Symptoms of poisoning from Christmas tree water include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and behavioral changes.

Tree water can accumulate bacteria and other particles, especially after sitting in the tree stand for a few days. Additionally, the pine needles that fall into the water can be sharp and cause harm if ingested. Fir tree oil, found in many Christmas trees, can also be irritating to dogs, both when ingested and when in contact with their skin.

Commercial preservatives used by Christmas tree farms can seep into the water and cause illness in pets. These preservatives often contain fertilizers, sugar, and fungicides. Homemade fertilizers and pesticides may also find their way into the water, and some of the common ingredients can be toxic to dogs. For example, alcohol and aspirin are highly dangerous to canines, and ingesting bleach or combining it with vinegar can produce chlorine gas, which is extremely harmful to inhale.

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A husky stands next to a decorated Christmas tree

Five Ways to Stop Dogs Drinking Christmas Tree Water

Thankfully, there are several measures you can take to prevent your dog from drinking Christmas tree water and keep them safe:


Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh water. This may discourage them from seeking out tree water, although curious canines may still be tempted.

Deterrent Methods

Using a pet or baby gate can effectively keep dogs away from the tree, especially when you’re not able to supervise them. Additionally, using a deterrent spray like Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray can discourage any unwanted curiosity.

Cover the Tree Water

A clever idea from Granville Veterinary Clinic is to create a cover for the tree water bowl using a large lid, such as one from a plastic storage container. Simply cut a hole in the middle of the lid to fit around the tree trunk and a slit on the side to slide the cover on and off. You may need to tape or weigh it down to prevent determined pups from moving it.

Opt for an Artificial Tree

Consider using an artificial Christmas tree to avoid the issue of tree water altogether. However, be cautious of any faux pine needles or debris that your dog may still try to ingest as the tree ages.

What to Do if Your Dog Drinks Christmas Tree Water

If you suspect that your dog has consumed water from the tree stand, closely monitor their behavior and bowel movements. Mild cases may not show any symptoms, but it’s essential to encourage your pup to drink plenty of fresh water. If you know that the tree water contains substances like alcohol or bleach, which are highly toxic to dogs, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.

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Contact your vet if you notice symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, lethargy, excessive drooling, or diarrhea. While not every situation is an emergency, addressing them promptly will help ensure a swift recovery for your furry friend.

By taking these precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable holiday season with your dog. Remember, a happy howl-iday begins with keeping your four-legged companion out of harm’s way.

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