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Are Poinsettias Poisonous?

Poinsettia season is here! Dogs and cats beware?

Many of us have heard that poinsettias are poisonous to dogs and cats. Truth be told, these popular holiday plants are only slightly toxic to animals. That being said, there are other popular winter plants that are considered dangerous to pets. Read on for more information about plant toxicities in cats and dogs.

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Poinsettias are only very mildly toxic to pets, so ingestion of a poinsettia rarely requires medical treatment. Poinsettia leaves produce a milky sap that can irritate a pet’s mouth, esophagus, eyes and skin. If your pet were to eat some or all of a poinsettia, you may notice drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. It is highly unlikely that a pet would eat enough poinsettia to cause poisoning because of the irritating taste and feeling that is experienced when exposed to poinsettia sap.

Poinsettias that have been treated with pesticides are another matter entirely. Pesticides can cause pets to become mildly to severely ill, depending on the chemical. If you have a poinsettia or other plant that has been treated, keep it out of reach of your pets at all times.

If you believe your cat or dog has consumed a poinsettia, it is important to monitor for symptoms and report any changes in health to your veterinarian. Regardless of the low toxicity of poinsettias, it is best to keep them away from your pets.


This romanticized holiday plant is a beautiful addition to any home, but its berries are much more toxic than poinsettias. A pet that ingests mistletoe (or holly) berries may show signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and stomach pain.

Mistletoe and holly also contain other substances (eg. toxalbumin) that are poisonous to pets. If eaten, these plants could cause a dramatic drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, GI upset, and hallucinations. Pets that consume a large amount of mistletoe or holly may experience seizures and/or death.

Always keep the leaves and berries of mistletoe and holly out of reach of all pets.

Christmas Trees 🎄

Live Christmas trees are a tradition for many families during the holiday season. It’s important to supervise pets around the Christmas tree for several reasons. Fir trees produce oils that can irritate a pet’s mouth and stomach. Tree needles can irritate a pet’s GI system and even cause GI obstructions or lesions. The water in the Christmas tree base can be contaminated with bacteria, mold or fertilizer, all of which will make a pet sick. And don’t forget about the lights and ornaments — pets can cut themselves on glass shards or pointy ends of broken ornaments, and the wires of lights pose an electrical hazard to any pet that decides to chew on them. When you’re not around, it’s best to block your pet’s access to the Christmas tree.


This gorgeous plant goes by many names (Amaryllis, Belladonna, St. Joseph Lily, Naked Lady) and is extremely poisonous to pets. Ingestion of an Amaryllis could cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, reduced appetite, lethargy, and tremors in a dog or cat.

Lilies & Daffodils 🌼

Lily plants are especially dangerous to cats. The most toxic species are Lilium and Hemerocallis genera. If a cat eats even a tiny amount of one of these lily species, it could experience terrible GI upset, irregular heart beat, and violent muscle contractions.

Daffodils are dangerous for cats and dogs, and the bulbs are the most toxic part of the plant. Consumption of even a small amount of a daffodil could cause a pet to go into kidney failure.
If you have any of these plants in your home, make sure that you place them in areas that your pets can’t access, and that you supervise your pets carefully. Cats are especially at risk of plant poisoning, primarily because they can jump up to areas that dogs aren’t able to reach. If your pet has a history of eating plants, or if you just don’t trust them to keep away from these plants, you may want to consider artificial floral decorations.

If your dog or cat ingests any of the plants mentioned in this article, call poison control or your veterinarian immediately. The phone number for the Pet Poison Helpline is 855-764-7661.

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