Put this one at the top of your holiday hit list … REMOVE THE TOXIC HOLIDAY PLANTS. If you’re like most of us, you probably have one of these around your house to enhance the holiday ambiance. So, let’s take a moment to brush up on what may be harmful to your family pets and what to do to keep them safe.
Before we get into the plants, there are a few basics to cover about the toxicity issue of common holiday plants:
- Take more precautions if your pet tends to chew. Puncturing through the plant leaves, stems, etc. will release more of the harmful elements of that plant.
- Most pets will stop eating on a harmful plant as soon as they get enough of a reaction such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, drooling or mouth irritation.
- Your dog’s size will affect the toxic reaction. Smaller dogs are more susceptible to a greater toxic reaction than larger dogs.
- Fallen leaves or berries can catch your dog’s attention, but these playful droppings can be very harmful. Gather up the debris on a regular basis to eliminate the temptation.
- Keep the water reservoir for your live tree covered so your pets don’t drink from it. The water can be a hotbed for molds, fungi and bacteria to upset your pets’ bellies.
Most Harmful Holiday Plants
Amaryllis – These flowering plans are most toxic to cats, although dogs can also suffer if they chew it. The bulb contains more toxin than the leaves or flower stalk. Common toxicity symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and decreased appetite. More severe symptoms include tremors, kidney failure and convulsions.
English Ivy – All parts of this plant are toxic. The leaves taste terrible, which usually discourages chewing. Toxicity symptoms include an irritated mouth and gastritis. Worse cases include dizziness or coma.
Jerusalem Cherry – All parts of this plant are toxic, especially the leaves and unripe fruit. Toxicity symptoms include nausea or vomiting and, if enough is consumed, seizures.
Mistletoe – Unfortunately, this hallmark holiday plant holds toxic potential, but clinical cases only note signs of depression and vomiting with no more serious symptoms.
Less Harmful Holiday Plants
Poinsettia – Another holiday hallmark plant, the poinsettia is likely to cause a stomachache, vomiting or diarrhea in dogs and excessive drooling in cats. The upside is that the plant tastes bad, so pets are not likely to keep eating it once they sample it.
English Holly – Most animals will avoid this plant because it tastes bad. But for those that don’t catch on quickly, it may cause lip smacking, vomiting, diarrhea or possibly depression.
Cyclamen – The beet-like stems and roots contain toxin which can produce intestinal distress if eaten.
Christmas Cactus – This plant is likely to cause mild vomiting and diarrhea if eaten.
Poison Pet Care
If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, call your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 888-426-4435. This 24-hour hotline may charge a fee for use.
When you call to report a poisoning, you’ll need to know:
- the name of the plant that was consumed
- the part of the plant consumed (leaf, berry, etc.)
- how much of the plant was eaten
- approximate time the plant was consumed
- your pet’s age, weight and condition
If you’re taking your pet to a local vet clinic, gather any chewed or regurgitated leaves to show the veterinarian.
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