While the holidays add joy and excitement to the long winter months, they also bring dangers for our pets. There are many indoor and outdoor toxins that your pet can access at this time of year. Here are a few of the most toxic holiday plants to look out for, so you can keep your pets healthy and safe this holiday season.
Poinsettias: Not poisonous, but not nice
Despite popular belief, poinsettias do not usually poison a pet. That doesn’t mean they’re good to eat, though. If you pet eats some leaves from a poinsettia, they may have gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, decreased appetite, or upset stomach, but these symptoms often go away without medical intervention. If your pet’s signs of illness persist for more than 24 hours, it is recommended that you contact your veterinarian.
Lilies: Deathly for cats
Lilies are commonly used in floral arrangements, but did you know that just one or two bites of a lily can cause acute kidney failure in cats? Even the plant’s pollen is poisonous, and so is the water the plant sits in. Keep lilies out of the house. Make sure you thoroughly inspect any bouquets your guests bring in, as lilies are often included in holiday arrangements.
Holly and Mistletoe: Festive but fatal
Holly and mistletoe are common holiday decorations, but both can cause problems for pets. If a pet eats English holly, it can result in severe gastrointestinal upset, thanks to the spiny leaves and potentially toxic substances found in the plant – both leaves and berries. A pet that has eaten holly will smack their lips, drool, and shake their head excessively due to irritation from the spiny leaves.
Mistletoe is also dangerous. Usually it is hung high, where it is out of reach for pets. But accidents happen! If a pet eats a small bit of mistletoe, you will see mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation. If they eat large amounts of mistletoe, they may collapse, have difficulty walking, have seizures, and potentially even die. It is safest to avoid using fresh holly and mistletoe to decorate indoors if you have a pet.
Ornamental Yews: Dangerous for pets and humans
Yews have become a popular addition to holiday wreaths: they look festive, with short, green needles and bright red berries. However, all parts of this evergreen contain toxins that target the heart. If your pet (or you!) ingests any part of this plant, they can develop stomach upset, an abnormal heart rate, low blood pressure, and potentially even coma and death.
What should you do if your pet eats a toxic plant?
The holidays can be filled with busy schedules, travel, house guests, and other activities that alter a pet parent and dog’s routine. In these situations, the most cautious household may still find out their dog ingested a potentially toxic holiday plant.
If you believe your pet ingested any item of concern, immediately call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 animal poison control center, at 1-800-213-6680 to have the risk of poisoning assessed. Keep pet safety in mind as you enjoy the holidays this season!
Note: This article, written by LifeLearn Animal Health (LifeLearn Inc.) is licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by a veterinarian.