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Holiday Plants and Your Pets: What Can Be Toxic?

Let’s face it – whether we like it or not, most pets like to eat plants. Around the holidays, this can be especially dangerous. But what plants that are popular this time of year are actually harmful to your pets? Let’s break it down:


If you’re a pet owner, you’ve no doubt heard about the poinsettia being toxic. However, this is an unlikely occurrence. While the poinsettia’s leaves do have a sap that can irritate the mouth an esophagus, it would take a large amount of this plant to be completely poisonous. Most of the times, pets that ingest too much will have some nausea and vomiting.

That does not mean you should not be cautious, however; smaller and young pets are at the highest risk. Be careful where you place these plants in your house, and watch to make sure your pets are not coming in contact with them.

Holly and Mistletoe

Both of these plants can be more toxic than the poinsettia. Not only the plants themselves, but also their berries, can cause gastrointestinal upset for pets. Mistletoe contains multiple substances that can be toxic to pets – which, in small doses can cause a drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and hallucinations; in large doses, can cause seizures and death.

Christmas Tree

There are three things you should watch out for on your Christmas tree (other than the ornaments and lights, of course): tree oil, needles, and water. The Christmas tree oil can by irritating to the mouth of your pet – which can cause drooling or vomiting. The needles, on the other hand, can potentially hurt your pet’s gastrointestinal system (causing obstruction or puncture). Lastly, the water that comes in contact with your tree may contain fertilizer or bacteria – which can be noxious to pets.

holiday plants toxic pets


If you are a cat owner, be cautious of having lilies in your home. When cats ingest this plant, it can cause anything from gastrointestinal issues, to convulsions, to kidney failure.

Daffodils and Amaryllis

Both of these plants can be harmful to cats and dogs – especially the bulbs. Symptoms of ingestion include: salivation, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.

Christmas Cactus

The least dangerous plant on this list is the Christmas cactus. While you should keep your pets from eating the bulk of the plant (can add too much fiber to their system), it is not directly poisonous to dogs or cats.

During the holidays, plants are a fun decoration to have around the home – but as a pet owner, you need to be cautious. Keep an eye on your pets and try to keep your plants out of their reach. If your pet is a chewer, you may want to opt for the fake versions of all of the plants listed above. As always, have your vet and emergency vet’s contact information handy if you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have.

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