These Holiday Plants Can Poison Your Pets

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During the holidays, many of us decorate our homes with festive plants. While these add a touch of beauty and tradition, some can pose a serious risk to our fur babies. Here's a look at common holiday plants that are hazardous to cats and dogs.

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What should you do if your pet eats a poisonous plant?

Contact your vet right away or contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

Holiday plants that can make your dogs sick

Image: Leah Kelley, Pexels

As you deck the halls and festoon your abode with holiday cheer, be sure to keep your dogs away from these plants:

  • Christmas trees: Varieties like spruce, pine, fir, and even artificial trees can irritate dogs' gastrointestinal tracts. Ingesting needles can cause diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and even intestinal blockage. Veterinary assistance may be necessary for severe symptoms​.
  • Poinsettias: Though less toxic, poinsettias can still cause vomiting, drooling, or diarrhea in dogs. While the gastrointestinal upset is usually mild, call your vet if your dog vomits or has diarrhea more than two to three times​.
  • Holly: Common in wreaths and garlands, holly's prickly leaves and berries can lead to lethargy and gastrointestinal upset. In severe cases, your dog may also have trouble walking. Symptoms are often mild, but immediate veterinary attention is needed if severe illness develops​.
  • Mistletoe: American mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite in dogs. Not great, but not deadly. On the other hand, European mistletoe is more dangerous, potentially leading to high blood pressure and abnormal heart rates. Immediate veterinary care is recommended if your dog eats a bunch of it.
  • Amaryllis: Though the bright, large flowers are pretty, amaryllis can be toxic to dogs. Ingesting any part of the plant may cause gastrointestinal upset, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rate seizures, or tremors. Get emergency veterinary care immediately​​.
  • Snowdrops: These pretty white flowers can cause abnormal heart rate, gastrointestinal upset, blood pressure changes, or seizures in dogs if ingested. Call your vet immediately.
  • Yew: Used in wreaths and garlands, yew can be highly toxic to dogs. It can cause tummy upset, tremors, abnormal heart rate, high blood pressure, or seizures. If your dog eats yew, immediate veterinary attention is needed​​.
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More plants to watch for

The ASPCA has a nifty database of plants that are toxic to cats, dogs and horses: ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List.

Holiday plants that can make your cat sick

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Image: Jessica Lewis, Pexels

Let's face it, cats can get into just about anything, so it's probably a good idea not to keep these holiday plants in your house or go with an artificial version:

  • Christmas trees: The oils from needles of live trees like pine, fir, and spruce can irritate cats' gastrointestinal tracts, leading to vomiting and decreased appetite. Ingesting needles from live or artificial trees can also cause intestinal blockage, necessitating veterinary care​​.
  • Lilies: In cats, lilies, including Oriental, Asiatic, and Easter varieties, can cause severe kidney damage, sometimes leading to failure and death. Exposure through ingestion of any plant part or even pollen can be life-threatening. Immediate veterinary care is essential if a cat ingests any part of a lily plant​​.
  • Poinsettias: These classic holiday plants can cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting in cats. Persistent vomiting requires veterinary attention​​.
  • Yew: Similar to dogs, yew ingestion can lead to significant poisoning in cats. Symptoms include difficulty walking, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and abnormal heart rates. Get immediate help right away.
  • Holly: Although holly's prickly leaves may deter cats, ingestion can still cause mild vomiting or diarrhea. Severe symptoms may develop if a large number of berries are consumed, necessitating veterinary care​​.
  • Mistletoe: Cats eating mistletoe may experience diarrhea, vomiting, and decreased appetite. Ingesting more than just a nibble or some of the European variety can lead to abnormal heart rate and blood pressure issues, requiring veterinary examination​.
Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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