By Chewy Studios

Caitlin UltimoHolidays / Pet Parenting

Pet Holiday Hazards: Poisonous Plants for Cats and Dogs

Decorating is a big part of the winter holidays for many households, and this includes displaying beautiful holiday plants to bring friends and family into the festive spirit! While holiday plants are pleasing to the eye, they can be very dangerous to some of our furry family members. Before going out and purchasing holiday plants or bringing cut flowers or plants in from your yard, take a look at the following list of poisonous plants for pets.

Toxic Plants for Pets

  • Mistletoe.

    Often associated with romance and love, this plant may induce just the opposite reaction if ingested by your pet. If consumed by your furry friend, mistletoe poisoning can result in mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation, which can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Gena Lorainne, horticulturist and planting expert, warns that ingestion of mistletoe and holly berries in large quantities is extremely toxic for both cats and dogs, and “May result in seizures, increased blood pressure, hallucinations, and in some cases, death.” Due to the spiny leaf structure and the toxic saponins found in mistletoe, most pets will smack their lips, shake their head excessively, and drool in response to ingesting this poisonous plant. Keep your four-legged friend away from mistletoe and holly berries during the holidays by making sure they are out of your pet’s reach.

  • Poinsettia.

    This beautiful, vibrant red flower is a household favorite during the holiday season. Poinsettias are only mildly poisonous plants to cats and dogs, yet still dangerous, as the toxic milky white sap is known to induce vomiting, drooling, and occasionally, diarrhea. While you should be aware of how much contact your pet has to poinsettias, Gena explains that “It’s unlikely a real poisoning will occur, unless your pet eats a whole lot of the leaves.”

  • Lily.

    Though not exclusive to the holiday season, lily species can be lethal to both your cats and dogs.

  • Leaves.

    Though leaves aren’t a plant species, they can still be a hazard to our furry friends during the colder winter months. Dr. Barrack explains that “Piles of leaves can accumulate moisture and become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, so it’s important that your pet does not ingest too many of them, as gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhea can result.”

Tips for Pet Parents

While you can’t always control what grows outside of your home, you do have the power to be a good pet parent and monitor which plants you keep both in your yard and inside of your home. Be sure to limit your furry friend to pet-safe plants and nature. Dr. Sarah Nold, DVM at Trupanion, recommends that “pet owners research any new plants they plan on introducing into their home for the holidays (and really any time of the year) to determine if they are safe for their pet.” She suggests that if a particular plant is not safe, the best thing would be to gift it to someone else without pets.

As holiday plants are often beautiful, some pet parents might want to keep them around, but out of their pet’s reach. Dr. Nold explains that “For many dogs, this might be accomplished by putting the plant on a high shelf or counter. However, there is still some risk for ‘counter surfing’ dogs and cats that can easily access many spaces within the house.” For this reason, Dr. Nold urges those pet parents who are adamant about keeping hazardous pet plants in the house to store them in rooms that pets cannot access. She warns that “There is some risk with doing this, as guests may not know why a particular door is shut and could inadvertently leave it open.”

Be on the Lookout for Signs of Ingestion

It’s important that pet parents keep their eyes peeled during the holidays for any worrisome signs their pets may be displaying, and that they take immediate action in the case of an emergency. “If you suspect that your pet has eaten even a small portion of a plant that is toxic, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.” Many pet parents might not know the full list of hazardous pet plants, which is why Dr. Nold suggests “taking a photo of the plant or a portion of the plant that your pet ingested with you to the vet to help with identification, as treatment is often more successful if initiated as soon as possible after the accident.”

Purchasing Pet-Safe Holiday Plants

Even with many hazardous pet plants out there, there are still a handful of pet-safe plants that you can enjoy during the winter season and bring into your home to add some colorful holiday spirit! Here are some pet-safe plants you can pick up this holiday season:

  • Bromeliads.

    If you’re looking for some colorful indoor plants that grow well without much light, then bromeliads may be the perfect holiday plants for you! One of the most common flowering plants that are easy to take care of—even in the winter time—bromeliads are easy to find and come in a variety of colors, which makes them fun to collect. The biggest perk is that they’re 100% pet-safe!

  • Christmas Cactus.

    A holiday favorite, this pet-safe plant is unique in that it blooms in the dead of winter to give your home beautiful colors for the festive season. Despite its name, the Christmas cactus is not a desert plant and requires regular watering as well as moderately humid soil to thrive and flower. By purchasing or growing your own Christmas cactus plant, you can add a touch of natural décor to your home without the risk of harming your furry loved one.

Having recently moved from rainy Oregon to the sunshine state, Anastasiya Chevtchenko spends her time catching rays by the beach, playing soccer with the locals, and embracing pet heaven – Chewy. A recent Penn graduate, Anastasiya works in Marketing where she hopes to bring in her expertise in international relations to expand the business. When she’s not facetiming her international friends or reading the news in five languages, Anastasiya spends her time working on PR projects, social media brand posts, and writing for Chewy’s Pet Central blog.