Pets and Poisonous Holiday Plants

Cat and Poinsettia

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The holidays are always a great time to brighten up our homes with ornamental plants. Some of these plants are fairly safe, but others can pose a danger to our pets. Unfortunately, they don't know which plants are good or bad for them, so make sure you know which common holiday plants your pet should be careful around.

Poinsettia Plant

When it comes to poisonous holiday plants, the greatest myth is about the poinsettia. The poinsettia, a popular Christmas plant, is not as toxic as it was once thought to be. The sap it produces can be irritating to the mouth and the stomach, but thankfully, it is not fatal. It may still be a good idea to keep this plant out of your curious pet's reach.


Mistletoe is a winter holiday plant that can be potentially toxic to pets. There are many types of mistletoe, but the most toxic comes from the European variety. If a dog or cat ingests small amounts of berries from this plant, they may experience mild gastrointestinal signs like drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If they ingest a large amount, the signs may be more severe. An abnormal heart rate, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (drunken appearance), seizures, collapse, and even death have been reported.

Easter Lily

While the Easter Lily is not a popular toxin in dogs, it is extremely toxic to cats. All parts of the Easter Lilly are toxic to cats. These plants should be kept out of a cat’s reach because even minimal ingestion can prove fatal if treatment is not started promptly. Clinical signs may initially be gastrointestinal but eventually will cause severe kidney and electrolyte imbalances, seizures, and ultimately death.

Other Potentially Toxic Holiday Plants

A few other holiday plants to recognize are Holly, Christmas Cactus, and the Shamrock. These have been reported to cause mild gastrointestinal signs when ingested in small amounts. The Shamrock can cause renal failure if ingested in large amounts.

In Case of Ingestion

If you believe your pet has ingested any of these plants, even if they are known to cause mild symptoms, please contact your veterinarian for more information on the type of care your pet may need. Familiarize yourself with resources like ASPCA Animal Poison Control and emergency facilities in your area in case your veterinarian is closed.


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.