8975 McLaughlin Rd., Brampton, Ontario

Winter Worries: Poisonous Poinsettias

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa-la-la-la-la…Wait Fido don’t eat that! Bright ornamental plants are a great way to brighten up the house during the holiday but some of these plants can be extremely toxic for our furry friends. Because of our pets curious natures they may feel compelled to sample some of the new greens being placed around the house which can lead to gastrointestinal upset or blockage and could even lead to seizures, coma or death if enough is ingested.

Poinsettia plants
Poinsettias are a very popular Christmas plant during the holidays. Many people associate this plant with extreme toxicity however this is not the case! According to the Pet Poison Helpline these plants are only a minimal threat. Ingestion of these plants could cause nausea and vomiting but these signs are typically self limiting and generally do not require medical intervention unless signs are severe.

Holly, Mistletoe and Rosemary
These three plants may also be seen around the house or even in bouquets brought by Christmas guests. Mistletoe and Holly are considered to be moderately to severely toxic and require immediate medical attention if ingested. When Christmas or English holly is ingested it can result in severe GI upset due to the spiny leaves in addition to the potentially toxic substances. As for Mistletoe ensure you have it securely hung high enough over head that your pets cannot reach it. While American Mistletoe may not be as toxic as European varieties it can still cause GI upset as well as collapse, low blood pressure and seizures or even death if enough is ingested.

Lilies are the #1 flower most often used by florists so ensure you carefully inspect all floral arrangements before bringing them into the house to ensure there are no lilies in them. Just one or two bites from a lily can result in severe acute kidney failure in cats. Even the pollen from lilies is thought to be poisonous!

Christmas Tree
Believe it or not the Christmas tree can be considered mildly toxic! The fir tree oils can irritate the mouth and stomach and cause drooling and nausea. The tree needles are not easily digester either; these needles are sharp and can cause GI punctures as well as obstructions. While most of us may think an artificial tree is a good alternative these needles can also obstruct the GI system if ingested as artificial material is not digestible at all. It’s also very important to ensure your pets are not drinking from the tree water. This water can contain preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers and a myriad of other toxic agents.

Like always, If you are concerned that your pet has eaten something it shouldn’t feel free to contact your local veterinarian and we will be happy to answer all of your questions!

This blog post was written by McQueen Animal Hospital, a veterinary clinic in Brampton providing quality affordable veterinary care

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