Holiday Plants That Are Poisonous to Pets

cat looking up the camera with a poinsettia flower

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Bright ornamental plants are a great way to dress up the house during the holidays and bring life to your home during the winter. But pet owners should be aware that many of these common plants are poisonous to their furry family members.

Toxicity ranges from mild to severe, and the amount of plant your pet eats determines how sick it might become. In general, gastrointestinal upset is the most common result, but if enough plant material is eaten, seizures, coma, or death is possible.

Naturally curious puppies and kittens might want to sample some of the new-in-the-house greens. The dose is size-dependent, so puppies and kittens are most often at greatest risk for plant poisonings.

Poinsettia Plant

Many people associate the poinsettia plant with extreme toxicity, but this is not true. In fact, it is largely an urban legend, dating back to 1919. The sap of poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic or irritating and could cause nausea or vomiting if it's eaten but not death.

Mistletoe and Holly

Mistletoe and holly are considered to be moderate to severely toxic, and you should call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately for specific advice if your pet eats either one of these very common holiday plants.

Lilies and Daffodils

Plant bulb kits featuring amaryllis, other plants in the lily family, narcissus, and other plants in the daffodil family are a popular gift and decor items during the holiday season. Pet owners should be aware that these plants are very toxic to cats. They sometimes can cause severe symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, cardiac arrhythmias, kidney failure, convulsions, and death. Daffodils are toxic to both dogs and cats, especially the bulbs.

Christmas Trees

Don't forget about the Christmas tree. Evergreen Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic. The fir tree oils can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting. The tree needles are not easily digested, either, and can cause GI irritation, vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction, or puncture. As noted earlier, the amount of trouble depends on how much is consumed. Many times, pets don't consume mass quantities of tree material, but it is still good to be aware of the risk. 

Common Clinical Signs 

Signs most commonly seen with toxic plant ingestion relate to the gastrointestinal tract: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes excessive salivation (drooling). In some cases, such as holly berry ingestion, tremors or seizures could occur, followed by coma and death.

Watch Your Plants and Your Pets

Monitor your pet's interest in the plants. To be 100 percent safe, do not bring toxic live plants into your house. If you are unsure about a plant, look it up to check toxicity. Monitor your pet's interest in eating plants and place plants out of reach. Check the plants for any signs of chewing or missing leaves.

This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.