What Holiday Plants Are Toxic To Pets?

Dec 5, 2021 | Holiday, Maggie Lane Designs

Happy Monday everyone!  On the blog today is What Holiday Plants Are Toxic To Pets?  I absolutely love natural greenery around the outside of the house but prefer a fake tree inside so the dogs are safer there.  But what if I decorated the outside around the holidays with toxic plants and pines?  Would I even know what was toxic and what was not?  I’m here to give you the run down and what to consider when decorating and gift giving when our pets are involved.  I’m glad I put this post together because I did not know holly bushes are poisonous!
I’m also fortunate that I don’t have pets that attack the tree and eat all the bulbs.  I’ve experienced that when I brought my first adopted pet home from the shelter and he fell in love with the tree.  Bear loved the blinking lights and sparkly bulbs.  I had to watch him like a hawk and by the end of Christmas, every ornament was sitting at the top of the tree where he couldn’t reach them!  I slowly kept moving them up and by the time Christmas was over, my tree was bare from the bottom to the middle!  Bear was 14 when he passed and Christmas was always his favorite time of the year 🙂

My "not real" red, black, and green front porch!

I do love natural pines around the holidays but I cheated this year.  I already had my wreath from last year from Hobby Lobby, my red lanterns from Walmart, and just found these adorable “Joy” boxes with greenery and clip on flowers this year from Walmart in their Christmas section.  These boxes packed full of pine cones and branches were only $39.99 a piece.  I added silk flowers and berries to the boxes and wreath and put this front porch together in about half an hour.  My “D” Christmas bulb came from Kirklands a few years ago.  

Toxic Holiday Plants | www.twoadorablelabs.com
Many people are decorating their homes for the holidays, but pet owners should be aware that some plants used for holiday decorating can be dangerous to cats and dogs. Understanding which plants are toxic, and which are not, can help bring home the festive spirit and avoid danger for pets.

According to ModernDog Magazine, one of the most popular holiday plants often considered poisonous are poinsettias. But in fact, they are “non” to “mildly” toxic.  Pets that ingest poinsettias generally have no clinical signs or mild gastrointestinal discomfort. A mild rash may develop if rubbed on the skin, but they are considered safe to keep in the home.

Dr. Dorothy Black, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM), explained, “Poinsettias are usually referred to as highly toxic, but they really aren’t. Feel free to display them at Christmas.” 

Jake and Maggie back from their Spa Day!

I had just got Jake and Maggie home from their grooming appointment and needed to get pictures.  It started to rain and they were more interested in the neighbor who was checking his mail.

Toxic Holiday Plants | www.twoadorablelabs.com
Christmas trees 
Pine needles can cause damage to eyes if pets should run into the tree, such as a corneal laceration. 
Should pets ingest the sap produced by the tree, mild gastrointestinal discomfort may occur, but natural trees are generally non-toxic for cats and dogs.
There are other dangers to consider with the Christmas tree that go beyond lights and ornaments.

The oils produced by fir trees can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and stomach, causing excessive vomiting or drooling. The tree needles, meanwhile, may cause gastrointestinal irritation, obstruction and punctures.

Additionally, the water used to nourish Christmas trees can be noxious. Bacteria, molds and fertilizers can cause your pet to become extremely sick with only a few laps of water. Keep the water covered and blocked off to prevent pets from accessing it.

Curious cats may climb the tree and/or knock the tree over, injuring themselves and damaging heirloom ornaments. Best practice is to keep your Christmas tree blocked off and out of reach of your cats.

Toxic Holiday Plants | www.twoadorablelabs.com
How about Mistletoe and Holly?

Mistletoe, on the other hand, can be quite poisonous to pets. If ingested, pets may experience gastrointestinal upset, or show clinical signs of poisoning such as a change in mental function, difficulty breathing, or a low heart rate.  Mistletoe shouldn’t be used where pets could possibly reach it.

Another holiday decorative plant, holly, can be dangerous for pets and is considered poisonous. Clinical symptoms may be displayed as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased energy, and general upset stomach. 
Mistletoe contains multiple substances that are toxic to both dogs and cats, including toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin (lectins, phoratoxins). It’s well-known for causing severe intestinal upset as well as a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure, breathing problems and even hallucinations (showing up as unusual behavior).

If a large enough amount of these plants are ingested, seizures and death may follow.

The leaves and berries of holly and mistletoe plants, even the dried plants, should be kept well out of your pet’s reach, or better yet, kept out of the home altogether.
Toxic Holiday Plants | www.twoadorablelabs.com
Amaryllis and Daffodils extremely toxic!

Amaryllis and Daffodils are also considered poisonous for pets. If ingested, pets may vomit, appear depressed, or show signs of a painful abdomen and a loss of appetite, as well as, tremors.  This is a sign of severe toxicity if tremors occur.

Lilies are particularly toxic to cats. 
The ingestion of any part of any type of lily can lead to kidney failure. The clinical signs can include vomiting, depression, or loss of appetite. If you suspect your cat of ingesting lilies, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. There is no antidote, and intense supportive care is needed for cats to recover.
In cats, Lilium and Hemerocallis genera lilies are the most dangerous. Eating even a small amount of the plant will have a severe impact on a cat’s system, causing severe symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, arrhythmia and convulsions.

Daffodils are also toxic to both dogs and cats. The bulbs are the most toxic; however, even a few bites of the flower can cause kidney failure and even death in cats.

The beauty of the flowering Amaryllis is only matched by its toxicity. The Amaryllis contains lycorine and other noxious substances, which cause salivation, gastrointestinal abnormalities (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite and abdominal pain), lethargy and tremors in both cats and dogs.

The bulb of the plant is reputed to be even more dangerous than the flowers and stalk.

The Amaryllis also goes by other names, including Belladonna, Saint Joseph Lily, Cape Belladonna and Naked Lady.

Amaryllis, by any name, should be kept out of the house.
Toxic Holiday Plants | www.twoadorablelabs.com
Christmas Cactus

Fortunately, the Christmas Cactus (or its relative, the Easter Cactus) plant is not toxic to dogs in either its parts or flowers. The same applies for cats. However, fibrous plant material can cause irritation to the stomach and intestine, leading to vomiting or diarrhea.

Curious cats and dogs, especially kittens and puppies, may be injured by the spines, so these plants should still be kept out of pets’ reach.

Toxic Holiday Plants | www.twoadorablelabs.com
“The more toxic the plant, the more careful you should be with displaying them in your home. While Poinsettias and Christmas trees are generally safe for pets, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, daffodils, and lilies should be considered quite toxic,” Black said. “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 pet’s behavior should be monitored to make sure they do not show symptoms of poisoning.”
But if your dog or cat does manage to ingest any part of these holiday plants, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately to find out what you should do to minimize the damage.

The phone number for the ASPCA Poison Control is 1-888-426-4435, 24 hours a day.
Information in this blog is based on research with ModernDog Magazine and PetMD.com.

I love hearing from all of you and do my best to respond to each and every one of you.  I always enjoy your comments, feedback, and suggestions so keep them coming!  If I’ve posted a recipe (for our human and our furry friends) and you try it, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @twoadorablelabs and use #twoadorablelabs​.

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  1. Carla D Evans

    I have a Christmas cactus that was given to me years ago that is getting so big. So happy to know it is safe for my fur babies to be around! 😊

    • Bobbi

      So glad too. Wouldn’t want the boys to get hurt or sick!


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