Fraser fir trees, also called Abies fraseri and southern balsam fir, are small to medium sized trees native to the southern Appalachian Mountains. According to the USDA Forest Service, these trees grow only in high elevations in southwestern Virginia, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. Fraser fir trees are grown for Christmas trees in this area and may come into contact with pets.
Like other conifers, Fraser fir tree needles contain mildly toxic resins and oils. Animals that eat these substances, or which lick fir secretions off their coats, may suffer from digestive upset. Ingesting Fraser fir may also cause excessive salivation.
The water used to keep cut Fraser firs fresh may also pose a hazard to pets. Animals may drink tree water from open buckets or other containers, resulting in gastrointestinal problems. Mold, bacteria and fertiliser contamination in tree water can cause organ failure or other illness.
Homeowners can follow a few basic safety rules to keep their pets healthy. Place cut Fraser firs only in enclosed containers that don't allow pets to access the water. Sweep up all dropped needles as quickly as possible to prevent ingestion, and keep unsupervised pets in a separate room while the fir tree is in the house.