7 Holiday Plants That Are Toxic to Dogs (With Pictures)

7 Holiday Plants That Are Toxic to Dogs (With Pictures)

The information is current and updated according to the latest veterinary research.

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‘Tis the season for decorating, and for those dedicated to the holidays, nothing adds charm, cheer and life to a space like seasonal plants. However, although they are pleasing to the eye, these holiday species are often dangerous to curious pets. Many plants are toxic to our furry friends, causing everything from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe veterinary emergencies.

A sick dog can undoubtedly disrupt the joy and celebration of the season. Before decorating, you’ll ensure everyone’s safety and satisfaction by researching the best and worst types of plants to fill your home. We’ll help you get started with this look at seven holiday plants that are toxic to dogs.

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7 Holiday Plants That Are Toxic to Dogs

1. Holly

Holly berries on the bush
Image credit: Stella Oriente, Shutterstock

As a lively accent that combines bright reds and bright greens, holly is a versatile choice for holiday decorating. However, their berries may be too much for your dog to resist, which could cause a problem.

The leaves and berries of holly plants contain various toxins (saponins, allicin, theobromine alkaloid, and caffeine) that can lead to gastrointestinal upset and abdominal pain. Your dog may salivate excessively, stop eating, or suffer from diarrhea and vomiting. Theobromine may cause mild stimulation of the nervous system.

Most problems resolve on their own by treating individual signs. You may have to withhold food and water if your dog continues to vomit, and prolonged episodes may require veterinary care for supportive treatment.

2. Mistletoe

Image credit: LVV, Shutterstock

No holiday decor would be complete without traditional mistletoe inserts in the home. Fortunately, mistletoe poses fewer risks to dogs due to its overhead position and relatively low potential for causing severe poisoning.

American and European mistletoe species contain various alkaloids, cardiotoxins, and glycoprotein lectins, some of which can affect blood pressure, cell membrane permeability, and heart health. European varieties (Viscos album) and American varieties (Furadendron Serotonin) Both are toxic. In the worst-case scenario, serious problems such as ataxia, shock, and other cardiac and neurological signs can develop, requiring medical care. However, most mistletoe ingestions either go unnoticed or cause mild gastrointestinal signs including vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

Keeping your dog hydrated and keeping his electrolytes balanced will relieve much of the distress, although your vet may need to be involved if large amounts are ingested or if your dog becomes dehydrated.

3. Poinsettia

Poinsettias bush on the side of the road
Image credit: Matthias Rehak, Shutterstock

vibrant poinsettia (The most beautiful euphorbia) is one of the most prominent signs of the holiday season. They are also often one of the most accessible plants for curious dogs. The milky white sap of the plant contains very low concentrations of triterpene compounds that can have cytotoxic properties. The effects of accidental ingestion were exaggerated in the past, however, plants can still cause a minor problem.

The milky white sap within the plant can cause irritation and swelling around the mouth and face, including irritant conjunctivitis if it gets into the eyes. Skin contact with the sap may cause itching. Usually no gastrointestinal signs will appear, but if they do they will likely include hypersalivation, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs are usually mild and transient.

Gentle cleansing of the face and body with warm water and food restriction for a few hours may be needed to reduce discomfort.

4. Yes

Yew bush
Image credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

As a thorny, lively holiday accent for wreaths, wreaths and arrangements, the yew tree (Taxus spp) are plants that can be highly toxic to dogs. There are four species of yew that are highly toxic to dogs (as well as humans and many other animals). All parts of the plant (except the soft fruit) contain substances that are toxic to the heart, with the seeds containing the highest concentrations.

Unlike most poisons, gastrointestinal signs are not the first to appear after ingestion of yew. Initial signs are often cardiovascular-related, including rapid onset of very low or very high heart rate, or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Dogs who have ingested yew will have poor blood pressure, poor pulse quality, and pale/blue mucus membranes.

Neuromuscular signs include fixed and dilated pupils, weakness, muscle tremors, seizures, and coma. Gastrointestinal signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Some dogs die without showing any signs. Due to the high risk, you should immediately follow up with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has ingested any part of the plant.

You may also want to skip yew decorations if you have pets or children running around to spare yourself the dangers.

5. Anthurium

Anthurium plants
Image credit: Elizabeth Fernandez, Shutterstock

Anthurium’s gorgeous green leaves and bright red and pink accents make these potted plants excellent gifts and a bit of cheerful glow in a holiday-themed home. However, due to its mild toxicity, if your dog gets into it, they will find it at least somewhat less pleasant.

Anthurium contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. When ingested, the compounds can cause severe irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. Swelling may appear in the tongue and lips. Your dog may drool excessively, vomit, or scratch his face during agitation. If your dog rubs his head on the plant, it can cause conjunctival swelling, eye ulcers, and photophobia. Vomiting, decreased appetite, and difficulty swallowing are also common. In rare cases, airway closure can occur due to swelling of the tongue and back of the throat.

6. Ivy

English ivy plant in a pot on the porch
Image credit: ArtBackground, Shutterstock

The star-shaped leaves of ivy along its creeping vine add rich symbolism and beauty to the home. It is also moderately toxic to animals and humans, with the leaves being the most toxic. They include species that are toxic to dogs Epiperinum aureum (also known as devil’s ivy), Idera Canary And Ivy Helix (common ivy).

English ivy contains saponins that can irritate the skin and mucous membranes if your dog eats it. Excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and irritation around the mouth and eyes are common.

Devil’s Ivy has similar effects as English Ivy but can also sometimes lead to edema of the larynx or glottis which can lead to breathing difficulties.

7. Amaryllis

Amaryllis plants
Image credit: Alicia97, Shutterstock

Amaryllis belladonna It is another festive plant that makes a lovely gift but can also cause severe distress if a pup gets into it. The primary toxin is lycorine, an alkaloid that is most concentrated in the bulb but also appears throughout the leaves, flowers and stems.

Eating small amounts of the plant will cause digestive upset within a few hours. Typical signs include vomiting, abdominal pain, and hemorrhagic diarrhea. With neurotoxic properties, the plant can also cause tremors and convulsions. Most cases are mild due to the plant’s main poison, lycorine, being a strong emetic. Therefore, it makes the dog sick before the poison is digested. Additionally, amaryllis have an unpleasant taste, like many poisonous plants, and often prevent dogs from overeating.

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What to do if your dog eats a toxic holiday plant

Acting quickly is crucial when you think your dog has eaten a poisonous plant during the holidays. Start by calling your vet or a hotline, such as the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline or Pet Poison Helpline. Do not induce vomiting or apply treatment without consulting them for instructions.

Take the plant away from your dog to prevent further contact with it. Make sure you know the type of plant and contact your vet before getting rid of it. Your vet will advise you on the next steps.

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Holiday plants provide an exciting decorating opportunity, but animals and children in the home leave a lot more considerations than just simple aesthetics. Although it’s appropriately festive, some holiday greenery can also spoil the season if your dog is craving a treat. Reduce your risks and maintain the joy of the season this year by avoiding toxic plants like those in your holiday decor.

Featured image credit: Jerry Bland, Shutterstock

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