Green Circle Growers Blog

Holiday Plants that Endanger Pets: Separating Fact from Fiction

Green Circle Growers - Tuesday, January 04, 2011

In American, we consider our pets to be part of our family. Most of us include a package for Fido or Muffy when we place family presents under the Christmas tree. To keep pets safe during the holidays, owners should watch for potential hazards, including some popular holiday plants. Veterinarians say few holiday plants are toxic enough to cause serious illness, but it’s wise to keep certain holiday plants out of your pets’ reach. Here’s a helpful guide to the toxicity of common holiday plants:

Poinsettia. While all plants in the Euphorbia family are toxic, Poinsettia’s reputation as a major holiday pet hazard is unearned. Actually one of the least toxic holiday plants, Poinsettias exude a protective milky white sap that can irritate the skin; but ingesting Poinsettia leaves will only make cats drool and give dogs a little stomach ache. If your pet manages to ingest a belly full of Poinsettia leaves, vomiting, diarrhea or depression may develop. However, Poinsettia poisoning is extremely rare.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera). Tiny spines on the flat, segmented leaves of this tropical plant usually deter pets from taking a taste. If pets do take a bite, the risk is small. At worst, your pet may experience mild vomiting and diarrhea.

Cyclamen. This elegant flowering plant contains a toxic substance in its roots and rhizomes. While the plant’s nasty taste usually deters pets, pets that do manage to consume a large quantity of Cyclamen usually develop nothing worse than a stomach ache and mild diarrhea.

English Ivy (Hedera). Grown for the beauty of its variegated, trefoil-shaped leaves, English Ivy is frequently used in decorative holiday arrangements. One of the most toxic holiday plants, ingestion of berries or leaves causes oral irritation and gastritis and can cause dizziness and coma. Fortunately, the plant’s sour taste usually prevents animals from chowing down, but English Ivy does present a danger to leaf-eating pets such as rabbits, goats and iguanas.