Top 7 festive plants that are toxic to your pets

Making your home safe for your pets

It’s here again… Christmas songs on the radio, festive baking, decorating the tree… but did you know that many plants typically seen (and gifted!) at this time of year can actually be dangerous for your dogs and cats? It’s important to make sure that your decorations aren’t creating an inadvertent hazard for your furry friends, so we’ve put together a list of some of the more toxic plants that are best avoided in pet-loving households.

Mildly toxic

Poinsettias

Toxic to dogs and cats

While these festive classics do not pose a severe risk to the animals in your life, they do contain a sap which can cause issues for them. The milky white sap found in poinsettias and, if ingested in large quantities, can cause vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. The sap can also irritate the skin. As the levels of toxicity are fairly low, it is safe to have in your house (with caution, and preferably out of reach of your pets).

Pine trees

Toxic to cats

Oils in pine trees can be harmful to cats and may lead to liver damage. So if you’re bringing home a live tree this year, opt for spruce or fir! But take caution with any trees with needles, as they can cause oral irritation and in extreme cases, gastrointestinal issues.


Moderately toxic

Azaleas

Toxic to dogs and cats

Another commonly seen Christmas flower, azaleas (or rhododendrons) contain grayanotoxin, a toxin which can cause symptoms ranging from decreased appetite and weakness, to vomiting and diarrhea. Even consuming just a few of the leaves can cause stomach issues, so best to keep it out of the house and away from your pets!

Holly

Toxic to dogs and cats

Unfortunately, these classic Christmas decorations can be dangerous for pets, causing abdominal pain or other stomach upsets if ingested. Keep any holly out of reach (or out of the house) and look out for symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite and dizziness.

Amaryllis

Toxic to dogs and cats

These plants contain the chemical lycorine which can cause stomach issues such as vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, and tremors are among the most common symptoms in dogs and cats who have been exposed to large amounts of this plant.


Extremely toxic

Lillies

Toxic to dogs and especially cats

This flower may be beautiful but it’s one of the most toxic for pets - especially our feline friends. Everything from the stem to the flowers and pollen is poisonous - ingesting even a small amount of the flower or its water can cause serious issues (kidney failure, arrhythmia) and should be avoided. Look for the early symptoms of lily toxicity - decreased activity, loss of appetite, increased urination and dehydration.

Mistletoe

Toxic to dogs and especially cats

The phoratoxins and lectins in mistletoe can cause severe reactions in cats, including heart problems, breathing problems, seizures and even death. Watch for stomach upsets, difficulty breathing and odd behaviour as signs that your pet may have been exposed to the toxins in mistletoe.


Not to worry though - if you’d like to bring that festive look to your decor… you can always opt for some long-lasting artificial versions of the classics without any risk of harm to your pets!

And most importantly, if you’re ever worried that your pet may have ingested something toxic, contact your veterinarian immediately.

 


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