The Holidays are here. Good food and festive decorations are the norm. However, as dog owners, we must be vigilant to keep our four-legged friends safe. There are some types of decorative plants that are toxic to dogs. In some cases, only mild discomfort will result, in other cases, the toxicity can lead to more severe health problems, and even death. So before you bring holiday plants into your home this season, take a few minutes to review which types of foliage can be harmful for your pet.
The poinsettia plant’s leaves contain a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. If the leaves are ingested, they will often cause nausea and vomiting, but it would take a large amount of the plant’s material to cause serious problems, and most dogs will not eat such a large enough amount because of the irritating taste of the sap.
The size of your pet and the amount of ingested plant material will be the determining factors for the severity of the poisoning. Puppies are at the highest risk. Severe reactions to the plant or to the pesticide it has been treated with include seizures, coma, and, in some cases, death.
Mistletoe is also a popular holiday plant. Mistletoe, along with it’s berries, has a greater toxicity level than the poinsettia. Symptoms of ingesting this plant include intestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.
Mistletoe contains multiple substances that are toxic to dogs, including toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin (Lectins, Phoratoxins). Mistletoe is well known for causing a severe intestinal upset, as well as a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even hallucinations. If a large enough amount of these plants are ingested, seizures and death may follow. The leaves and berries of holly and mistletoe plants, even the dried plants, should be kept well out of your pet’s reach.
The Christmas Tree
There are also a few dangers to consider with your family’s Christmas Tree. The oils produced by fir trees can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and stomach, causing excessive vomiting or drooling. The tree’s needles can also cause gastrointestinal irritation and/or obstruction. The water used for your Christmas tree can also hold bacteria, mold, and fertilizers which may cause your pet to become extremely sick if ingested.
With a watchful eye and some common sense you can ensure that you have a great holiday season with your dogs, but if your dog does manage to ingest any part of these holiday plants, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately to find out what you should do to minimize the damage.
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