Holiday Plants and your Cat or Dog

We like to decorate our homes using holiday plants to go with the seasons. Our animals will often chew or eat plants, whether we wish them to or not. Sometimes it is to help out with digestion, the need for more nutrients or for hairball maintenance and sometimes it is just because they wish too. One way to help with this is to have some pet grass easily available for your furred companion.

With the winter holiday season we, the pet owners, like to decorate with or are given as presents holiday plants associated with the season. Unfortunately these wonderful holiday additions to our homes are not always the best choices for our animals. Following you will find a listing of common holiday plants and what effects they can have on your animal.

Christmas Cactus (and Easter Cactus)

Luckily these plants are not toxic for cats or for dogs. The plan itself is quite fibrous though and may sometimes cause irritation to the stomach or intestine.


Many of you have probably heard many times that Poinsettia plants are deadly for pets and children; this is actually an unlikely occurrence. They are toxic and can create unhappy reactions, but it would take a large amount of the plant to actually cause poisoning and most animals and children will not eat the required large amount. What does occur is that the brightly coloured leaves contain sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus and the regular leaves, if ingested, will often cause nausea and vomiting.


The prickles on the leaves can damage the skin, mouth and digestive tract of a child or pet. The toxins particular to this plant can be found throughout, but are the most concentrated in the berries and that is the more concerning part of the plant. If ingested the toxic berries can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness a rapid pulse and low blood pressure. Dog’s bodies especially have a difficult time with the particular toxin found in Holly.


Mistletoe contains multiple substances that are toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion of Mistletoe, both European and North American, is known for causing severe gastric and intestinal upset as well as a slow heart beat and low blood pressure. The leaves and berries of this plant will cause problems for you and your furred friends if ingested.

Christmas Tree

Fir, Spruce, Pine and Cedar trees are only very mildly toxic and usually cause no problems. Eating the needles or leaves of a Christmas Tree may cause gastronomical irritation, some obstruction of passageways and the possibility of punctures. The oils or sap produced by fir trees can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and cause excessive drooling and possible vomiting.

Also be on the lookout for animals trying to drink the Christmas Tree water, bacteria, mold and additives that leach into or are placed in the water could cause issues for your pet.


While beautiful, the Amaryllis plant is very toxic to dogs and cats. The whole plant is toxic, but a higher level of toxins is to be found in the bulb. Eating an Amaryllis can lead to heavier salivation, multiples types of gastric issues, lethargy, and tremors.

Christmas Rose

The Christmas Rose is another plant that is toxic but requires the person or animal to eat a large amount to be truly dangerous. When eaten, it can result in an irritation of the mouth and throat, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression and a slow heartbeat.


The Coleus plant has variegated red and green leaves, which is why it is popular at Christmas time. This plant is toxic to both dogs and cats. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea which can occasionally be bloody.

Lilies and Daffodils

Lilies and Daffodils are both popular gift items. The Lilies are most dangerous for cats and some, if eaten, can cause stomach issues, arrhythmia and convulsions. Daffodils, especially the bulbs, are toxic for both dogs and cats. The whole plant is toxic, but higher levels of toxins are found in the bulb.



Fiona Seedhouse
Fiona Seedhouse
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