Holiday Plants Poisonous to Pets

Holiday plants poisonous to pets

The holidays are filled with joy and laughter, family, friends, food and festivities. Unfortunately, it’s also a time of year when dangers to your pets are lurking around every corner. From poisonous plants to falling trees, how can you be sure you’ve decked your halls without putting Fluffy and Fido in harm's way?

Today we’re going to talk about some common household dangers that can arise during the holiday season—and how you can take preventative measures to keep the whole family safe… fur babies included.

Let’s get right to it.

Holiday Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats

If you’re a pet parent, you’ve probably heard that poinsettias are toxic to dogs. A few bites of its leaves can cause serious mouth and tummy irritation. But poinsettias aren’t the only plants you need to keep safely away from your pets … 

Mistletoe 

You might think mistletoe is safe for pets because it’s typically hung overhead. But if your mistletoe has berries, and one falls to the ground, it could mean big trouble for your pet. Mistletoe contains Phoratoxin and Viscotoxin that, when digested, can cause severe stomach pain, vomiting, excessive drooling and diarrhea. 

In most cases, ingesting mistletoe isn’t deadly, and the symptoms usually subside on their own. If, however, your pet consumes a large amount of mistletoe—berries, leaves or stem—he may experience an abnormal heart rate, seizures and even death. If you’re unsure how much mistletoe your pet has ingested, best to call your vet right away.

Holly

Holly plant berries contain toxins called saponin, methylxanthines and cyanogens, which can cause serious gastrointestinal issues in both dogs and cats—humans, too! Just like any other poisonous plant, consuming large amounts of holly berries can increase the severity of symptoms, which include vomiting and diarrhea, lip smacking, drooling, and excessive head shaking (due to injury caused by the spiny leaves).

Lilies

There are oh so many types of lilies—just about all are extremely toxic to pets. 

While the Peruvian lily, tiger lily, daylily and Easter lily are technically “nontoxic” to dogs, they can still cause serious stomach upset when ingested. Symptoms of lily poisoning in dogs typically appear within two hours of ingestion, and may include vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling, lack of appetite, oral irritation, heart problems. 

When chewed, peace lilies release insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause oral pain, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes, swelling in the mouth can lead to difficulty breathing. Cats in particular are highly sensitive to the toxic effects of peace lilies and daylilies. In fact, ingesting just a small amount can be fatal.

Lily of the valley, while not actually a lily, contains cardiac glycosides, a toxin which causes stomach upset (vomiting, diarrhea), difficulty breathing, and irregular heartbeat in both dogs and cats.

Azalea

Grayanotoxins are found in all parts of the azalea, making them extremely poisonous for dogs and cats. These neurotoxins disrupt the chemical processes that keep your pet's cardiac and skeletal muscles functioning. Ingesting azaleas can lead to severe gastrointestinal, cardiac and central nervous system issues. 

The list of azalea poisoning symptoms is extensive, including (but not limited to) abdominal pain, irregular heart rate, coma, hypotension, lethargy, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure and muscle weakness. If left untreated, azalea poisoning may cause heart failure and even death.

Fir Trees

It’s not his fault, your dog was born to chew tree branches. Cats, too, have a tough time resisting the urge to climb those tree branches. While it may make for some funny videos, allowing your pets to chew and climb the Christmas tree can be downright dangerous.

Did you know that some fir trees produce oils that can make your pets sick if ingested? Not only can certain fir trees cause excessive drooling and vomiting if the oils are ingested, but the needles pose a dangerous threat, too. Those sharp, pointy needles can get stuck in your pet’s paws, or worse, if ingested they can cause internal damage to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract

Try to choose a “non-drop" Christmas tree, like a Nordmann Fir (aka Caucasian Fir). If possible, try to put the tree in an area where your pets aren’t free to roam. If that’s not feasible, consider using gates around the tree to keep pets safely away. 

What to do if your pet ingests a toxic plant

Prevention is the best treatment for plant poisoning. But part of being a pet parent is knowing they sometimes get into things they shouldn’t. If you have holiday plants around the house, watch for symptoms of illness in your dog or cat.

If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic plant, call your veterinarian right away. If your pet is displaying severe symptoms, take him to the nearest emergency animal hospital for immediate evaluation.

Quick treatment could mean the difference between life and death, so don’t hesitate. Keep your pets safe this holiday season!

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