6 Holiday Plants to Avoid if you Have Pets

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2017-01-12T13:57:08-05:00Updated: December 8th, 2016|Pet Care, Pet Newsletter|2 Comments
  • Cat Eating Plants

I love cheesy holiday stuff. Holiday lights and decorations, ugly holiday sweaters, filling the house with holiday plants… It’s all so festive and marvelous! Unfortunately, there are a few holiday plants you should avoid in your home if you have pets. We humans wouldn’t dream of chewing on a flower or leaf, but our pets find it surprisingly tempting! So as much as I adore beautiful holiday plants, I’m going to list a few to avoid if you have a dog or cat. Today I’ll talk about the actual plants. If the nursery sprayed pesticides on the plants, signs could vary.

Just the other day one of my kitties vomited up part of a plant she had left alone for the 6 years I’ve had the plant. I asked her, “Twinkle, why? Why did you feel compelled to eat our plant and then vomit it onto our carpet??” I know for a fact that it is not a toxic plant because whenever I contemplate a new plant I google the plant potential for toxicity. Nonetheless, there is now a slight green hue on the edge of the rug even after scrubbing it.



Holiday Plants to Avoid - MistletoeIf you need an excuse to smooch, be sure you don’t leave this out where your critter can eat it. Tie it up securely in a spot where your pet absolutely can’t get to it. Otherwise you may find your pet with severe tummy upset, neurological signs or low blood pressure. If you think your pet has ingested mistletoe it would be wise to take Fluffy to the vet! It might be safest to avoid mistletoe in the house altogether and just boldly kiss your sweetie without it!


Holiday Plants to Avoid - HollyHolly berries can be toxic to both pets and children! Most of us wouldn’t dream of eating a holly berry, but they are beautiful and can cause toxicity similar to chocolate toxicity in pets. If you decide to have a holly wreath, make sure it doesn’t have the berries on it.


Holiday Plants to Avoid - PoinsettiaI’m a sucker for poinsettias. Nonetheless, I have them on my front porch rather than in my home. They aren’t particularly toxic. They are more of an irritant to dogs and cats that result in vomiting. Just as my own cat opted to eat then vomit a benign houseplant the other day, you probably don’t wish to clean your floor or carpet, nor pay a vet bill if the vomiting persists.


Holiday Plants to Avoid - AmaryllisThis plant is neat in the holidays because it can bloom indoors over winter months. It is a mild GI irritant, but if your pet goes hog wild and eats the bulb neurological signs can ensue.


Holiday Plants to Avoid - LilyThere are lots of kinds of lilies. Some are extremely toxic, and some are fine. Lilies tend to be popular around Christmas and Easter. I have treated a cat who went into renal failure from ingesting a lily. It can happen! Lesser effects are mucosal burning or tummy upset. Unless you are an astute horticulturist, leave lilies for non-pet households.


Holiday Plants to avoid - OleanderOleander is highly toxic if ingested. It can cause heart failure or seizures. If your pet is lucky, it might just get muscle tremors and diarrhea. This is one to keep out of the house!

Christmas Trees

Kitten in Xmas TreeChristmas trees probably aren’t a danger for the tree itself poses no great threat. The greater concern is the shiny tinsel and ornaments they can mesmerize a pet! My own cats find a holiday tree fascinating! They like to sit underneath the tree and stare at the blinking lights. My ornaments are as cat safe as I can muster. I certainly would avoid tinsel. And if you wish to give your significant other a box of chocolates under the tree know that your dog will likely get to it before Christmas morning! Finally, the water at the base of the tree could become bacterial laden.

If you think I sound like the Scrooge, forgive me. I don’t want you to spend your holiday at the vet ER. You will have nothing left for those after Christmas sales! Keep these pet poison hotlines during all times of the year. If you aren’t certain, you can call and speak with a veterinary toxicologist!

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435
Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661

You can expect to pay a fee up front, but they give you a case number so that you or your veterinarian may call again without charge for the rest of your pet’s treatment.

Have a question or comment? Post below or email me at [email protected]. I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn

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