Saturday, December 17, 2011


Written by a CP Volunteer

Flowers and plants add beauty to any holiday, and they make great holiday gifts. But if your family includes pets, you may want to learn which plants are safe and which ones you need to avoid.

The last thing you need on this busy holiday is an unexpected visit to the local veterinary hospital for an unexpected emergency. So today, I want to remind you a little about common holiday plants that can cause problems.

Here are some of the most common holiday plants to avoid. Remember that ingesting bulb plants often cause the most severe illnesses.

• Holly (Ilex sp.)

This plant, commonly found around Christmas time, can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea. Mental depression can also occur.

• Amaryllis (Amaryllis spp)

Ingestion can result in vomiting, diarrhea, depression, lack of appetite, tremors, drooling and abdominal pain.

• Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.)

This plant, another Christmas plant, can also cause significant vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, this plant has been associated with difficulty breathing, slowed heart rate, collapse and, if a lot is ingested, death has occurred. Some animals may even show erratic behavior and possible hallucinations.

• Poinsettia (Euphorbia)

This plant can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting. It has a low level of toxicity and is overrated as a toxic plant. Many people consider it basically non-toxic.

• Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, Easter cactus (Schlumbergera or Zygocactus)

In dogs, if large quantities of this plant are ingested, vomiting, possibly with blood, diarrhea, possibly with blood and mental depression have been reported. With small ingestions, typically there are no signs of toxicity. These plants are considered low toxicity plants.

If you bring plants into your home, make sure they are in a location inaccessible by your dog. They can all cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset if ingested. After all, we certainly don't need any trips to the emergency clinic and unexpected medical expenses this time of year!

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