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Make Sure To Only Use Pet-Safe Plants In Your Holiday Decorating!
If you’re not careful, the plants you use in your holiday decorating could be toxic to your pets!
Part of the fun of the holidays is decorating our homes to embrace the festive spirit! In addition to decorations like lights and tinsel, plants are frequently used as decorations or given as gifts throughout the season. However, be wary of which plants you use in your decorating as they may be toxic to your pet. And while your pet would probably love a new toy or a special treat for Christmas, they almost certainly do not want to spend the night feeling sick at the emergency vet.
No matter how careful you are, curious pets can be quite sneaky when they want to check out decorations up close. If you are going to use a dangerous plant, make sure it is far out of your pet’s reach. That said, both dogs and cats have been known to climb shelves, tables, and furniture to give themselves access to poisonous plants because they like the lights or smell. Therefore, it’s better to use non-toxic plants as alternatives or use high-quality faux plants that won’t harm your pet and eliminate any risk of poisoning entirely. If you do believe your pet has ingested a toxic holiday plant, contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Pet Poison Control Hotline.
Poinsettias are beautiful red flowers that are almost as symbolic of the holiday season as Christmas trees. But if a beautiful poinsettia catches your pet’s eye, he could be at risk of poisoning. The leaves on the poinsettia plant are filled with an irritating sap that can harm the tissues of the mouth and the esophagus. If enough of the leaves are ingested, it could result in nausea and vomiting. Most of the time, the irritation caused by the sap will prevent pets from eating enough of the plant to develop severe illness. But depending on the pet’s age and size, they may suffer from seizures, coma, and even death. If the flowers have been treated by pesticides, your pet may also be more likely to become seriously ill. Generally, poinsettia poisonings aren’t fatal but it’s simply better to not take the chance.
The Poinsettia plant is popular at Christmas because of its red color. Some people believe the red leaves are reminiscent of Christmas and Santa Claus, while others believe the red leaves symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, the star shape of the flower represents the Star of Bethlehem that led the Wise Men to Jesus on the night of his birth. That said, you can still capture the Christmas spirit with non-toxic flowers, such as red and white roses. You can also opt to purchase a realistic faux poinsettia plant, which is actually a great investment since you can re-use it year after year.
Although you might have been looking forward to sharing an innocent kiss with someone you love under the mistletoe this year, this is one plant that you probably shouldn’t bring home. Mistletoe contains multiple substances that are highly toxic to both dogs and cats, such as toxalbumin and phoratoxin viscumin (Lectins, Phoratoxins). Symptoms of poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, scary hallucinations, severe drops in blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. Mistletoe poisonings often result in a series of seizures that are soon followed by death.
If you are looking for a living substitute for mistletoe, our best suggestion would be to purchase a Christmas Cactus. Christmas Cacti have nearly identical rich green colors, have similar leaf shapes, and delicate red flowers that closely resemble Mistletoe. That said, you’ll still want to place your Christmas Cactus out of reach of pets. It’s not toxic to pets, but ingesting the plant could still result in nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Plus, getting a mouthful of prickly cacti spine doesn’t sound like much fun. Alternatively, this is another good occasion to invest in a faux mistletoe.
Even though the song says to deck the halls with boughs of holly...don’t. Like mistletoe, holly leaves and berries are incredibly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingesting holly can be fatal for pets and comes with many of the same symptoms as mistletoe poisoning. However, reactions to holly are most likely to include intestinal upset, excessive drooling, and severe abdominal pain even when only a small amount is consumed. Instead of holly, try using Autumn Olive in your holiday decorating instead because it looks similar and is much safer to have around pets.
Lilies & Daffodils:
During the holidays, lilies and daffodils are frequently exchanged as gifts and displayed within homes. These white flowers symbolize innocence, purity, and rebirth, making them a suitable gift to give to those celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. However, the beauty of these sweet flowers hides the toxicity they contain on the inside. Lilies are particularly dangerous for cats, as consuming even the smallest amount can cause gastrointestinal issues, heart arrhythmias, and convulsions in felines. Daffodils are highly toxic to both dogs and cats and have been known to trigger kidney failure in pets. A good substitution for lilies and daffodils is white orchids. While some species of orchids are toxic to pets, the Phalaenopsis species that is often referred to as Moth Orchids is safe to have around your fur baby.
Amaryllis plants go by many different names: Belladonna, Saint Joseph Lily, Cape Belladonna and Naked Lady. But no matter what you call it, Amaryllis is one of the most dangerous holiday plants you could bring home. The entire plant is highly toxic to pets, with the bulb being the most lethal. This plant is packed with toxins that cause gastrointestinal upset, uncontrollable tremors, excess salivation, and lethargy in dogs and cats. Instead of taking your chances with a real amaryllis plant, it would be best to purchase an artificial replica or use the Achira plant instead. Achira is so safe that the Arrowroot powder produced by this plant is used as a substitute for cornstarch while cooking.
The Christmas Tree:
If you’re debating between buying a real tree or an artificial Christmas tree this year, knowing that real Christmas trees can harm your pet might be what makes the decision for you. While Christmas trees aren’t necessarily toxic, they can still cause health problems if your pet decides they look appetizing. Oils produced by fir trees can irritate your pet’s mouth and stomach, which could lead to excessive vomiting or drooling that makes your dog or cat feel crummy. In addition, needles that fall or are eaten off your tree could cause anything from gastrointestinal upset to major medical emergencies if they become obstructions or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. If obstructions or punctures occur in your pet’s digestive tract, the only treatment could be expensive emergency surgery. Last but not least, the water used to keep your tree alive could be full of bacteria, mold, and fertilizers that could make your pets very sick if they decide to take a drink. With all that said, many pet parents opt for an artificial Christmas tree, which is ultimately a good investment since it can be used for more than one year. It’s also an environmentally friendly choice since it doesn’t necessitate the cutting down of live trees to use as decoration, which displaces other animals who live in trees.