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‘Tis the Season to be Careful (with Holiday Plants)

The holidays are a hectic and fast-paced time. It can be easy to forget that in all the hustle and bustle, your pets and their health may be at risk. Many popular seasonal plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe, lilies, and even Christmas trees can cause irritation and illness in pets if ingested. Here is a quick guide to what plants are dangerous and how to avoid trips to the vet.

What you can do

An important thing to remember is that any plant treated with pesticides is an immediate danger to your pets. Ingestion of pesticides can result in a number of physical side effects such as vomiting and indigestion, and in cases of vast consumption, seizures and death. When bringing any new plant into the home, good practice is to wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth.

A few of the plants to look out for

Often, flowers are gifted around this time of year. While beautiful, amaryllis, daffodils, and lilies are toxic to pets, especially cats. The leaves, petals, and even the bulbs of these flowers, when nibbled on, can severely impact your pet’s health. Keep them out of your home; re-gifting these flowers isn’t such a bad idea.

It has long been thought that poinsettias are deadly to pets and children once ingested. However, the leaves and flowers of the plant contain a sap that can cause irritation and sometimes vomiting. In order to reach dangerous levels of poisoning, the animal must ingest an extremely large amount of the plant. This is unlikely, as the sap is pretty gross to humans and animals. However, it is still a good idea to keep this one away from children or pets.

Oh, by gosh, by golly, keep pets away from mistletoe and holly. Both popular plants in the lore of the holidays, they are extremely dangerous to pets. Symptoms of ingestion include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and intestinal upset. The leaves and berries of both holly and mistletoe contain toxins that can cause a severe drop in blood pressure, issues in breathing, and hallucinations. Ingesting large amounts of the plants can result in death. It is wise to keep mistletoe and holly out of the home.

The beautifully decorated Christmas tree in your home is not only at risk of damage from furry friends attempting to explore its boughs; it can also pose a risk to your pet’s health. The sap holiday evergreens produce is linked to vomiting and excessive drooling, and ingesting the needles can result in internal punctures and damage. Further, water meant to nourish the tree can breed bacteria and mold, which can make pets very ill should they decide to take a few sips. Artificial trees are a safe bet for a pet-friendly household.

Don’t be shy

While popular gifts and decorations, some holiday plants should remain out of the home or displayed with great care. Should you be offered one of the plants listed above as a gift, don’t be afraid to refuse on the basis of maintaining a healthy and safe home for your pets. No one would fault you for being a responsible and knowledgeable pet owner. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to ask friends, families, or coworkers if they have pets should you wish to gift any of the above plants yourself.

Have a happy and healthy holiday!