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Pet Care: Christmas/holiday plants and toxicity to pets

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It is the holiday season and that time of year when we put out beautiful decorative plants. While many of our holiday plants are beautiful to look at, some can be dangerous for our four-legged family members. The following is a list of the most common holiday plants and their level of toxicity.

  • Poinsettias are often considered to be dangerous to our pets, however this is urban legend. The leaves of the plant can be mildly irritating to the mouth and esophagus, however it will not cause any major issues or long term issues. If you catch your pet chewing on the plant, just rinse his/her mouth out with some water.
  • Christmas cactus is completely non-toxic to both cats and dogs.
  • Holly and mistletoe are considered moderate to severely toxic. If ingested it can cause vomiting and diarrhea that may need to be treated with IV fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Lilies and Amaryllis are highly toxic (especially to cats). They can cause kidney failure, cardiac issues, tremors, convulsions and can even be fatal. The bulbs of the amaryllis are the most toxic part of the plant. If your pet gets into these plants it is important to seek medical attention.
  • Christmas trees are considered a mild toxin (the sap and needles can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract). By far the greatest danger from Christmas trees are the decorations put on them; such as tinsel, ornaments and lights. Even the water in the stand is more toxic than the tree itself as it harbors bacteria and can cause vomiting and diarrhea if your pet drinks from it.

All of us here at Midbay Veterinary Hospital want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!

Article by Dr. Maya Chapman, Midbay Veterinary Hospital

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