Are Poinsettias Poisonous To Cats and Dogs?
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
The holidays are upon us and you’ve probably adorned your home with colorful decorations, lights, and plants. And as visitors arrive to celebrate, many bring holiday plants as a gift. While these plants add the perfect festive touch, some can be dangerous to your pets. In order to keep your furry family members safe this holiday season, we’ve compiled a list of common holiday plants and the risks they pose to your cat or dog.
One of the most popular is the poinsettia plant. Available in red or white, poinsettias are the perfect complement to any holiday décor, from traditional to modern. Although, many pet owners take great care in placing these plants out of reach of their pets because it’s common belief that poinsettias are poisonous to cats and dogs. In reality, a pet who eats part of a poinsettia plant may experience nausea or vomiting, but these plants are only mildly toxic.
Are Holly Berries Poisonous To Dogs?
Nothing says the holidays like holly berries. An icon of the Christmas season, wreaths and branches of holly are beautiful but can be dangerous to our pets. Holly has a mild to moderately level of toxicity for pets and the pointy leaves can cause injury to pet’s mouths and digestive tract when ingested. It also can be hard to keep track of the berries as they dry up and fall off the branches onto the floor, making it easy for pets to eat without us knowing.
Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous To Cats?
A Christmas cactus is a great option for a holiday plant because you can display it year round. It’s an easy to care for plant with bright green stems and flowers in many colors including pink, purple and red. Cats are often attracted to the Christmas cactus thanks to the dangling flowers, but these plants are actually not toxic to cats or to dogs. Although, with anything unusual a pet may eat, the plant can cause mild gastrointestinal irritation (GI) distress.
Is Mistletoe Poisonous To Dogs?
Often confused with holly, mistletoe has rounded, thick leaves with red or white berries. It’s level of toxicity is similar to that of holly for cats and dogs, with a mild to moderate risk. Mistletoe contains compounds that are cardiac depressants, but it is extremely rare to see any clinically significant cardiac effects in dogs or cats that ingest it. If your pet ingests some mistletoe, GI upset including vomiting or diarrhea can be expected as the digestive tract may become inflamed.
Are Christmas Trees Poisonous To Cats?
We saved the most common holiday plant for last! Nothing beats the fresh evergreen smell of a live Christmas tree during the holidays. Our pets also find the tree irresistible, especially cats, since the allure of climbing the tree and batting at the ornaments is hard to ignore. If your cat (or dog) happens to chew on the needles, it may cause irritation or GI upset as Christmas trees are mildly toxic to pets. Cats and dogs may also be tempted to drink the water under the tree. Try to prevent this by restricting access to the water as sap can leak into the bowl and also cause GI upset.
Before you bring a new plant into your home for the holidays, do some research to determine which holiday plants are poisonous to pets. We want the holidays to be stress free for everyone involved, including our pets, so be sure to keep an eye on your cat or dog and the new plant. Look out for signs of poisoning including drooling, licking lips, head shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, skin and eye irritation. If you notice any of these, contact your vet right away.
Want more tips for pet proofing your home? Read them here.
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