Toxic Christmas Plants for PetsUpdated: December 19, 2023
Toxic Winter Plants for Pets
During the holiday season, many people choose to decorate their homes with winter plants. Although many view these Christmas plants as a staple for the celebrations, pet parents should be cautious when selecting which ones to bring home. Pets may view them as something to lick, chew, and play with, so it is important to ensure they are pet safe plants.
In this article we have come up with a list of the most common winter plants, known to be toxic to pets.
Deck the halls with... anything but Holly! Holly is on the list of toxic Christmas plants for pets.
Holly is one of the plants most frequently associated with Christmas. This winter plant is known to have green leaves that are prickly and waxy. Holly is commonly used for garlands, Advent wreaths, and other Christmas decor arrangements around the home.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, Holly contains chemicals like methylxanthines, saponins, and cyanogens, which make the entire plant—including the berries and leaves—toxic to furbabies.
If your furbaby ingests the leaves or berries of a Holly plant, it can lead to lethargy and a wide range of possible gastrointestinal issues. If large amounts have been ingested, your furbaby may develop walking difficulties. In most cases, poisoning signs of Holly are mild and may resolve on their own, but there are possible harmful side effects!
Guess your pets can’t meet you under the mistletoe! It has also made the list of toxic Christmas plants for pets.
Mistletoe is commonly used as decor for holiday celebrations arranged together with other plants and flowers. Mistletoe comes in two varieties, European and American.
Symptoms of ingesting American Mistletoe might include diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. If your furbaby ingests European Mistletoe, or ingests a large amount of either, they may develop increased blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, and hypotension, in addition to symptoms of lethargy and weakness. Severe signs can include seizures, collapse, and even death. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your furbaby has ingested
Amaryllis are beautiful flowers, but not a cat safe plant or dog safe plant.
According to research, the ingestion of Amaryllis has lead to some problems for furbabies who ingest any part of it, particularly its bulbs. UC Master Gardener Program explains the amaryllis bulb contains the compound lycorine which, when ingested, is toxic to pets.
Ingestion of the amaryllis can lead to gastrointestinal effects and other symptoms which indicate a systemic disruption including excess salivation, abdominal discomfort, and respiratory depression, as stated by the Pet Poison Hotline®.
The entire lily plant is toxic to pets—its leaves, stem, flowers, pollen, and even the water from the vase it is placed! Lilies are considered toxic to both cats and dogs but as mentioned by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), the toxicity effects are more intense for cats.
Toxicity levels of lilies are so high that your furbaby can develops fatal kidney failure in just a matter of days. The toxin, which only affects cats, has not been identified. Dogs that ingest lilies may have minor gastrointestinal upset but they have not been observed to develop kidney failure.
Snowdrops are not just toxic plants in the spring but also during winter. These plants are usually used in bouquets, or indoors as decorations.
The hanging white flowers, stem, bulbs, and leaves contain phenanthridine alkaloids. The entire plant is toxic to pets but the bulbs have the greatest alkaloid concentration. Ingestion of snowdrops can cause gastrointestinal upsets and can impact your furbaby’s parasympathetic nervous system.
Poinsettias, especially the potted ones, are trendy during the holidays. Poinsettias are known to be December flowers and are, oftentimes, placed on house floors. This placement makes them very accessible for furbabies to sniff, lick, and chew on!
These Christmas plants are mildly toxic to pets. The milky white sap in Poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. When consumed, these chemicals may lead to excessive drooling, vomiting, skin irritation, and diarrhea.
Poinsettia toxicity levels are low and there may be no need for medical treatment unless clinical signs are extreme.
Signs of Poisoning in Pets
Signs of poisoning in pets may depend on the plant, and quantity, your furbaby has ingested.
Below are some of the most common poisoning signs to keep watch for during the holidays:
- Excessive drooling
- Pale gums
- Loss of appetite
- Skin irritation
- Lip licking
- Increased thirst
- Frequent peeing
- Weakness or lethargy
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Nose bleeds
What To Do If Furbaby Ingests a Toxic Winter Plant
The holidays are filled with the hustle and bustle of activities and get-togethers. With everything that is going on, there is a high possibility that your furbaby may ingest a toxic Christmas plant.
If they do, here are the most important steps you should take:
- Keep the plant away from your furbaby to prevent them or other pets from ingesting more.
- Do not throw the plant away without having to identify what it is. Identifying what your furbaby has ingested will greatly help your vet come up with the proper veterinary treatment plan for possible plant poisoning.
- Contact your local pet helpline. Doing so will connect you to animal toxicology professionals who will advise you on what to do next as first aid.
- if your furbaby exhibits vomiting and stomach upset with blood, troubled breathing, seizures, or collapse, take your pet to the soon immediately.
If you decide to use any of the plants above in your holiday decor, ensure they are out of your furbaby’s reach. Keep in mind most cats are able to reach spaces you may not realize.
For pet parents who do not want to risk it, there are many pet safe plants! The following are cat-safe plants and dog-safe plants that do not pose any danger to your furbabies during this holiday season.
- Bromeliads for Poinsettias
- Moth orchids for lilies
- Autumn olive for mistletoe and holly