Are Pine Trees Poisonous?

Pine trees, Pinus sp., may be toxic to children, pets, and livestock, especially if ingested in large quantities. Consumption of pine is rarely fatal, with livestock having the greatest risk of severe symptoms. Pine needles and sap are the parts that should be treated with the most caution if eaten. Always consult with a veterinarian or doctor if you believe your children or animals have ingested pine needles or sap.  

Are Pine Trees Poisonous to Children?

Pine trees are generally safe for children to interact with. The sharp needles of pine trees may scratch or irritate children’s skin. The sticky, resinous sap of pine trees may also be a skin irritant for children with sensitive skin or pine allergies. Some pine trees have edible bark, sap, seeds, and needles if identified and prepared properly. The greatest risk of consumption is the choking hazard that pine needles pose, especially in babies and toddlers. Sharp needles may also damage tissues in the mouth, throat, and digestive tract if ingested. Excessive consumption of pine may cause stomach aches in children. 

Are Pine Trees Poisonous to Dogs?

Pine trees are slightly toxic to dogs when eaten in large quantities. Most of the danger lies in the thin, prickly nature of pine needles, which may irritate dogs’ mouths, throats, and stomachs. Ingestion of pine needles may lead to tears and punctures in dogs’ digestive tracts.  Pine needles may also cause stomach upset if ingested by dogs. Pine trees contain a variety of terpenes, some of which may cause abdominal pain in dogs if eaten in excess. Since pine needles can be hard for dogs to digest, more severe symptoms, such as infections, can occur. Puppies are particularly prone to ingesting pine needles while they are teething. 


Are Pine Trees Poisonous to Cats?

Many cats and kittens will chew on plants, including pine trees. Similar to dogs, pine trees are only toxic to cats when eaten in excess. Ingestion of pine needles may lead to irritation, punctures, obstruction, and infection in cats’ mouths, throats, stomachs, and intestines. Although rare, excessive consumption of needles or sap may eventually lead to liver damage as toxins accumulate in the cat’s body. Symptoms of liver damage in cats typically present as lethargy, pale gums, weight loss, and jaundice. 

Are Pine Trees Poisonous to Other Animals?

Several species of pine trees are toxic to livestock. One particular species, Pinus ponderosa, is found to act as abortifacients (induces abortion) in cattle and sheep if ingested, due to the presence of isocupressic acid. Goats and horses may also experience symptoms of toxicity from eating pine. Even small amounts of pine can cause kidney and neurological diseases in livestock. Check for symptoms such as changes in urination and behavior, depression, weakness, seizures, and difficulty walking and standing. 


Symptoms Of Pine Tree Poisoning

Always check with your doctor or veterinarian for guidance if you suspect pine tree poisoning. 

Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Weakness 
  • Behavioral changes 
  • Dehydration and loss of appetite – may indicate intestinal obstruction 
  • Neurological problems and miscarriages (in livestock)

Preventing Pine Tree Poisoning

Always be careful when using live pine trees as indoor Christmas trees. Be sure to sweep up any needles that may fall to the ground, as they pose the greatest risk of illness and injury in children and pets. Additionally, pets and children may drink the water collected in the basin to water the tree, which may contain harmful pesticide and fertilizer residue. Place a barrier over the water basin to prevent this.

Opt for artificial Christmas trees if pine needle or water ingestion is a concern. Consider growing pet-safe plants, such as cat grass, for your pets to munch on in the case of nutrient deficiencies. Monitor your children and pets outside to be sure that they are not eating any pine needles. Remove any pine trees, saplings, and needles near your livestock. 

Pet Poison Helpline

If something were to happen to your furry friend, and you suspect that they are suffering from pine tree poisoning, there is a poison control hotline to call for 24/7 vet advice. It is called the Pet Poison Hotline, and their phone number is (855) 764-7661.


"Poisonous Pines." Porkchop's Phat Farm.

"Ponderosa pine." Colorado State University Guide to Poisonous Plants.

Lauren Youngcourt Profile Pic

 Lauren Youngcourt - Published 03-23-2023