Most Hazardous Holiday Plants for Pets

Hazardous plants Several seasonal plants pose a potential threat to your family pets. Review our list of plants that could be dangerous, and get tips for keeping your pets safe.

Understand a few basics about pets and potentially toxic holiday plants:

  • If your pet tends to chew, take more precautions than if your pet doesn’t.
  • For many pets, consuming a small amount of a poisonous plant produces enough of a reaction – upset stomach, diarrhea, drooling or mouth irritation – to stop the munching.
  • How much a pet suffers depends on the pet’s size. A smaller pet needs to ingest only a small amount of toxic plant material to experience toxic effects.
  • Fallen leaves and berries can present real hazards. Gather fallen items daily to limit potential problems.
  • If you have a live tree, keep the stand reservoir covered. This water can harbor molds, fungi, bacteria and any preservatives you add and could cause problems if your pet drinks from it.

Most hazardous holiday plants

Most toxic to cats, although dogs can also suffer if they nibble it. Bulb contains more toxin than leaves or flower stalk. Common toxicity symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and decreased appetite. More severe symptoms: tremors, kidney failure and convulsions.

English ivy
All plant parts are toxic. The leaves taste terrible, which usually discourages chewing. Toxicity symptoms: an irritated mouth and gastritis; in worst cases, dizziness or coma.

Jerusalem cherry
All plant parts are toxic; leaves and unripe fruit more so. Symptoms: nausea or vomiting; if enough is consumed, seizures.

Possesses intense toxic potential. Clinical veterinarian cases, though, record only depression and vomiting after eating, but no more serious symptoms.

Other hazardous holiday plants

May produce a stomachache, vomiting or diarrhea in dogs and excessive drooling in cats. Tastes bad, making it unlikely that pets will nibble it.

English holly
Tastes bad; most animals avoid it. Can produce lip smacking, vomiting, diarrhea or possibly depression.

Foul-tasting, beet-like stem and roots contain toxin that produces intestinal distress if eaten.

Christmas cactus
Mild vomiting and diarrhea if eaten.

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 consumed
  • the part of the plant consumed (leaf, berry, etc.)
  • how much of the plant was consumed
  • 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.