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Are Holiday Plants Toxic to My Pets?

As you decorate your home for the holidays, be aware of which plants are toxic, and which are not for your pets! Many of the decorative plants that we put out during the holidays are, in fact, not toxic, but some are and should be placed with care.

“Pets should not be allowed to come in contact with poisonous holiday plants, and if they are displayed in the home they should be kept out of reach, and pets’ behavior should be monitored to make sure they do not show symptoms of poisoning.”

Dr. Dorothy Black, Clinical Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Some common mildly toxic holiday plants include:

Christmas trees– Most natural trees are not toxic to your pet. However, sap can collect in the water you place under your tree and although not life threatening, if ingested your dog could develop mild gastrointestinal discomfort. Pine needles from the tree can cause oral irritation, vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture if ingested. The amount of tree needles that are ingested is the main concern, but thankfully pets don’t usually consume mass quantities of tree material.

Poinsettias– Poinsettias are considered mildly toxic! While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are toxic to your pet, and the poisoning from the milky sap is greatly exaggerated. Your dog may develop a mild rash if the milky sap is exposed to its skin. Be sure to check your pet’s skin for dermal irritation which can include any redness, swelling or excessive itchiness and scratching.  When ingested, your pet may show mild signs of vomiting; drooling and sometimes diarrhea might also be seen.  If your pet has ingested any of your poinsettias and is showing these signs, please know that there is no antidote and medical treatment is rarely needed unless the signs are severe.

Although your poinsettias may look beautiful on the floor by the fireplace, they are better kept away from your pet. We suggest the mantle (if you have one) or on a surface that is difficult for your pet to reach.

Some common toxic holiday plants include:

Mistletoe– This beloved holiday plant is very toxic to your dog. Thankfully, mistletoe is usually hung up high on an awning or overhang, out of reach of your pet. Nevertheless, if you notice that your mistletoe is missing and your dog is lethargic, vomiting, has difficulty breathing or a low heart rate, contact your veterinarian immediately and explain that your dog may have ingested some of this toxic plant.

Holly, Amaryllis, Rosemary & Daffodils– These plants are considered poisonous to pets. Vomiting, excessive drooling, diarrhea and general upset stomach are all signs of ingestion. Please seek veterinary assistance immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested any of these holiday plants. If ingested in large amounts, seizures and even deaths have been reported.

The best way to insure a safe and happy holiday for your family is to not bring any of these toxic plants into your home.  If you do, check the plants for missing leaves or those that look like they have been chewed upon.  Monitor your pet’s interest in the plants and if you notice any signs of ingestion, call your veterinarian or local animal hospital right away.

Here is a list of toxic plants from a valid resource, and you can read more at Modern Dog Magazine.

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