Tis' the season to deck the halls with boughs of holly! As a pet parent, we need to take special care of how we deck our halls.
Did you know many of the beautiful plant decorations of the season are dangerous, toxic and even poisonous to our furry indoor friends?
Toxic & Poisonous Plants
- Poinsettia Plant: (Euphorbia pulcherrima) Just a glance at this beautiful plant just screams "It's Christmas!" It tends to be one of the most popular decorations of the season. Popular belief is that a pet who consumes this plant is doomed. Did you know that this isn't entirely true? The sap of Poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic/irritating, and will usually cause nausea or vomiting, but not death; However, as a responsible pet owner, it is better to be "safe than sorry". Still continue the practice of keeping this plant out of the reach of pets.
- Cyclamen: (Primulaceae) This is a delicate and beautiful flowering plant commonly seen around homes in the Winter. The tubers of Cyclamen contain triterpinoidsaponins. The triterpinoidsaponins of the Cyclamen can cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and paralysis. Take caution to having this plant around your pets because for pets (dogs AND cats), this plant is HIGHLY poisonous.
- Jerusalem Cherry: (Solanum pseudocapsicum) A cute lil' plant with adorable little red fruit that resemble cherry tomatoes. It can lead to nasty troubles for dogs, cats and some birds. Because these little fruits have the appearance and flavor of a tomato, pets potentially can eat enough to cause illness or even death.
- Mistletoe & Holly: After you're done kissing under the Mistletoe and decking the halls with Holly, be sure that none of it is in reach of your pet. The names Mistletoe and Holly apply to several plants that all are potentially very dangerous for pets to consume. If your pet consumes either the berries or leaves, you should call your vet, or poison control center immediately for specific advice. The consumption of the plant by a pet can be moderately to severely toxic.
- Lilies and Daffodils: Who doesn't love the gift of a beautiful plant ? Many pet owners will receive bulb kits as gifts, that contain lilies like Narcissus and others in the daffodil family. Special caution will need to be taken though for our furry friends. Daffodils are toxic to both dogs and cats, especially the bulbs. A pet who consumes a Lily or Daffodil may suffer with symptoms severe as of gastrointestinal signs, cardiac arrhythmia, kidney failure, convulsions and death.
Christmas Tree: How could we forget the biggest Christmas plant of them all? The O' Tannenbaum! Cedars, pines and firs tend to be mildly toxic. Keep in mind that some trees have also been treated with a flame retardant. This treatment can actually change the toxicity level depending on treatment used. The Christmas Tree's oils or sap, may cause irritation of the mouth and skin if consumed. The main concern for consumption of this plant, is the possibility of puncturing parts of the gastrointestinal tract from eating the needles. With the inconvenience of eating the needles, a dog is actually unlikely to eat enough of the tree to cause a problem.
Signs Of Poisoning
Most commonly seen with toxic plant ingestion, relate to the gastrointestinal tract: Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes excessive drooling. In extreme cases such as holly berry ingestion, tremors/seizures may be seen, sometimes followed by coma and death.
Call your vet or poison control center immediately for specific advice if you are concerned that your pet has consumed any of the above plants. Remember though, this is just a small sampling of toxic plants to pets. If unsure about a plants toxicity be sure to ask your vet or take a moment to look up the toxicity levels.
How To Keep Pets Safe?
Don't feel doomed that you can't decorate with beautiful plants because of your pet. Just take the time to monitor your pet's interest. Curiosity will encourage a pet to check out or eat plants, so be sure to place them out of reach.
Monitor plants daily as well for any signs of chewing, nibbling or missing leaves. To be 100% safe there are 2 options; don't bring toxic plants into the home or use the plastic version of your favorite holiday plant (just as long as they are not ingested either!).