Poinsettias are widely believed to be poisonous to cats and dogs, but thankfully for all of us holiday decorators their toxicity is actually quite mild. Poinsettia sap can irritate the tissues of the mouth and stomach, but they will not cause any organ damage.
What will you see:
If your pet chews on the poinsettia, they may experience drooling, mild ulcers in the mouth, or an upset stomach with some mild vomiting.
What to do:
If your pet is drooling or has any red spots in their mouth, rinse the mouth with lots of water and provide access to fresh clean water.
If your pet vomits, hold off food for at least 4 hours but continue to provide water. Offer a small amount of bland food for the first meal (like rice with cooked boneless skinless chicken or turkey), then go back to regular food if there is no further vomiting.
Are there real holiday hazards?
However, there are some truly toxic plants that can cause more severe illness in our curious dogs and cats.
Traditional holiday plants to keep out of reach:
Mistletoe – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, shallow breathing, and low heart rate
Lilies – please avoid these altogether if you own cats. They can cause irreversible kidney failure.
Amaryllis – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, excess drooling, abdominal pain, and tremors.
Beware that some decorations can be dangerous:
Christmas trees – playful dogs and climbing cats can knock them over and injure themselves or others, not to mention break precious fragile ornaments. Secure your tree well, or use fencing to keep pets away. Don’t allow your pet to drink the water out of the reservoir.
Tinsel – Cats require surgery to remove tinsel from their intestines every year. Please don’t let that happen to yours!
Foods: While we’re enjoying some extra treats this month, keep the following ingredients out of your pets’ reach to avoid a trip to the vet:
onions – cause liver damage
grapes, raisins, currants – kidney damage
macadamia nuts – depression, weakness, tremors
xylitol (a no-calorie sweetener) – depression, collapse, seizures, coma
chocolate – vomiting and diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, racing heart rate, seizures, tremors
If you have any concerns about what your pet just got into, call ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435