Although POINSETTIAS are often the first plants that come to mind as being hazardous for pets, they are not as dangerous as others. Poinsettias have a milky white, latex sap that can be very irritating to your pet’s tummy and his mouth. Symptoms generally include drooling and digestive upsets (vomiting & diarrhea).
If Fido or Fluffy is hoping for romance and you find them under the MISTLETOE, lectins and phoratoxins are the toxic chemicals in the plant that could affect your dog or cat’s heart, causing low blood pressure and slowed heart rate. Fortunately, severe mistletoe toxicity is uncommon and usually only occurs if your pet eats a large amount, but symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, low blood pressure, and anything not quite right.
Should your pet consume HOLLY BERRIES OR LEAVES, the main toxic culprit is a group of chemicals called saponins. These chemicals cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and decreased activity in dogs and cats while PINECONES & PINE NEEDLES can cause obstructions, intestinal perforations, vomiting.
For cats in particular…beware of Lilies! As few as two leaves or petals of “true lilies” (Stargazer, Tiger, Casablanca, Asiatic and others) can cause kidney failure.
Make sure neither dogs nor cats drink water from live Christmas trees as the sap and water additives are poisonous. Cut an X in a plastic lid that will fit over the water reservoir or cover with foil. Placing “sticky tape” around your tree skirt or anything with a bumpy surface (such as an upside down floor or car mat that has those nubs cats won’t like to step on) may make your kitty take a step back. Place a low decorative picket fence around the tree or do whatever you can to keep pets away from that tree water.
GOOD NEWS! A flower or leaf from the Christmas Cactus is NOT toxic to pets!
Poisoning is relative depending on the amount of poison ingested versus your pet’s body weight. To learn how to help a poisoned pet, my Dog OR Cat First Aid & CPR pocket guides can walk you through a disaster, but do also have the PET POISON HELPLINE on speed-dial: (855) 764-7661