Holiday Plant Toxicity

Be aware that some common holiday plants can be toxic to pets

One of the hallmarks of the holiday season is all the festive plants with which we decorate our homes. Before you bring these seasonal plants into your home, just a reminder that some of them can be toxic to your pets, in particular poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and Christmas trees:

Mistletoe and Holly: Holly contains toxic saponins which, if ingested by your pet, can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of holly ingestion also include lip-smacking, drooling and loss of appetite.

Certain varieties of mistletoe can also be toxic to pets, with American mistletoe being less toxic than European varieties. As with holly, ingestion can cause gastrointestinal upset; however, ingestion of large quantities can result in low blood pressure, hallucinations, heart rate disturbances, seizures and even death.

Poinsettia:  Even though many people believe poinsettias to be very toxic, they are actually considered only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. If your pet ingests poinsettia, he or she may experience mild symptoms of drooling, vomiting or possibly diarrhea.  Additionally, the milky sap of this plant is an irritant, so topical exposure to the sap may cause mouth, skin or eye irritation.

Christmas trees: While these are mildly toxic, the biggest danger should your pet ingest pine needles is the risk of obstruction or perforation of the gastrointestinal tract from the sharp needles. Also keep in mind that the water at the base of the Christmas tree contains pine resin, preservatives and other chemicals which your pet should not ingest.

Enjoy the holidays, but to make sure your four-legged family members stay safe, just keep these holiday plants out of your pet’s reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested something toxic, contact your vet immediately or you can reach the Pet Poison Helpline around the clock at 800-213-6680.

About author

Abby Rosenberg

Abby Rosenberg is a PetMeds employee and long-time cat lover. She was a volunteer for several years at a local no-kill cats only rescue shelter. This has prepared her for her most challenging role to date: secretary, photographer, social coordinator and treat dispenser for Daisy, and Daisy’s sidekick Harley. Daisy is a dilute calico Devon Rex cat, and Harley is a “cow-cat” who was adopted from the shelter where Abby volunteered. You can also find Abby on Google+

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