December 6, 2018 TVAH

Can Holiday Houseplants Be Toxic to Pets?

Many houseplants can be toxic to pets, but we face extra challenges during the holidays. Before bringing any of the following potentially toxic houseplants into your home, learn the dangers along with the appropriate action in case of accidental poisoning.

Your Christmas tree. Few people who celebrate Christmas would omit the classic tree from their decor. Luckily, many pets don’t experience trouble with Christmas trees, but it is certainly possible. If your pet eats the tree’s needles, he or she could suffer irritation to the mouth and stomach, or even an obstruction or perforation in the GI tract. Spraying the tree’s needles with a bitter anti-chew spray might discourage your pet from snacking on your decor.

More commonly, pets like to drink the tree’s water. This might be amusing to some, but it can be dangerous if any preservatives have been added to the water. Skip those, or cover the tree’s stand with netting.

Finally, while it’s not a toxicity issue, trees can fall on pets who attempt to climb them. A sturdy stand can help to prevent this issue, or you could simply opt for an artificial tree. Cats and dogs are generally far less intrigued with the fake variety.

Poinsettia. You have probably heard that these red, leafy beauties are toxic to pets. Luckily, in most cases your pet would need to consume quite a large quantity of the plant before experiencing problems. The white sap inside the plant can disrupt the digestive tract, or cause eye or skin irritation. Keep these out of reach if your pet seems overly interested.

Mistletoe. Some types of mistletoe are extremely toxic to pets, and ingestion can trigger vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, seizures, and even death. It is best to avoid mistletoe entirely, and use an artificial version instead.

Holly. Holly is a popular decoration this time of year; luckily, most versions sold in stores are artificial. If you do opt for the genuine variety, be aware that pets who ingest holly can suffer vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy.

Amaryllis. If your pet nibbles on these lovely flowers, he or she could experience diarrhea, vomiting, trouble breathing, and low blood pressure.

You know your pet better than we do. In some cases, simply placing a tempting plant out of reach will suffice to keep your pet away. However, others can be surprisingly determined! Use your discretion, and err on the side of caution when it comes to potentially toxic houseplants. As always, please don’t hesitate to call us if you have a concern, or believe that your pet may have ingested something dangerous.

For more information, you can visit ASPCA’s guide to plant toxicity:

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