Holiday Foliage Safety Facts

Green and red are definitely the go-to colors during the holidays. But which holiday plants are safe to mingle with your dog? (For other pets, check ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.) Dr. Lee assesses these popular holiday decorations:

Poinsettias: Dr. Lee says, “They are not poisonous to dogs. The milky sap when you break open a leaf may cause a little bit of irritation if ingested, but it is not going to be a big deal.”

Mistletoe: “It can potentially be poisonous, but rarely results in any heart arrhythmias. If ingested, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Fortunately, mistletoe is usually hanging up high and out of reach of dogs. In my 25 years of practice, I’ve never seen a dog poisoned from it.”

Holly: “Holly is pointy and spiky, making it not very attractive to dogs or cats. It can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea if eaten, but it is not a plant dogs want to eat.”

Christmas cactus: “I have one in my house. It is a very soft succulent that is very beautiful. At best, it may cause vomiting and diarrhea if eaten by a dog, but it is not poisonous.”

Christmas tree: “Evergreens are prickly, so pets rarely try to eat or chew them. As for the water in a bowl at the bottom of a real tree, it is not a big deal. Just keep your Christmas tree well-hydrated and block your dog from drinking out of it by placing aluminum foil over the bowl to cover it.”

Pine needles: Can puncture or irritate your dog’s stomach if swallowed, so prevent your dog from nosing around the tree and lower temptation by not placing any wrapped food gifts under the tree for your dog to smell and try to eat.

However, more dangerous is the tinsel hanging on the tree. Dr. Lee strongly encourages you to decorate sans this shimmering decoration. “No tinsel should be on trees in dog and cat households because of the risk of them swallowing this linear foreign body.”

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