Before you deck the halls (and rails, and stairs, and every other place imaginable) with flowers and plants this holiday season, you may want to know why some of your favorite foliage may actually be a disaster in disguise for your best friend.


They get a bad (w)rap (because they’re often wrapped with ribbon? Forget it…). Many people will tell you that poinsettias are lethal to pets but, while their milky sap can be irritating, it’s not horribly toxic. Most ingestion cases will lead to an upset stomach and possibly mild vomiting. Of course, an upset stomach isn’t on any pet’s wish list – so it’s best to keep out of paws reach. But if your pet does stop to smell (and eat) the Poinsettias, don’t fret too much. If you’re concerned, always call the vet.


Whomever you are trying to catch under the mistletoe, try to make sure it’s not your pet. Small amounts usually just cause gastric upset but eating a lot of mistletoe can be potentially lethal to your pet! Call a vet if you suspect any has been eaten. Symptoms to look for: vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and shock within hours of ingestion.

Christmas tree water

While I recommend my patients use their water bowl preferentially, many of them will ignore my advice and continue to seek hydration from wet pavements, muddy puddles and even, a perennial favorite, the toilet bowl. Since your Christmas tree water will exert a similar magnetic attraction on your pet, if you add a life-extending chemical to the water, make sure to read the label to see that it’s non-toxic and pet-safe.

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Do NOT allow Rover to deck himself with boughs of holly. If either your cat or dog ingests holly, look for vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, and call your vet.

Lilies (Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca)

Lilies are very pretty, but also very bad for your pets. If your pet has an insatiable hunger for all plant life, send gifts of lilies back to the florist. Lily ingestion can cause acute kidney failure in cats, which means an unexpected trip to the emergency vet clinic and most likely, a hefty hospital bill. Protecting kitty with a Petplan pet insurance policy will keep her (and your finances) protected should anything occur, but it’s better to not invite the risk into your home in the first place.

If you do choose to decorate your home for the holidays, try not to leave your pets unsupervised near your seasonal foliage. It’s also a good idea to keep the Poison Control Hotline number (888) 426-4435, as well as the number for the nearest emergency vet clinic, close at hand.

Dec 10, 2010
Pet Health

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