Precarious Plants of the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, it won’t be long before many homes are filled with holiday decor. Besides a nice big tree to decorate, a popular home decor staple is the poinsettia plant and the infamous holly and mistletoe. What’s not to love about them? They’re easy to care for and their bright colour adds holiday ambiance. But what does that mean to dog and cat owners alike? If you fancy these precarious plants, here’s a few things you should know.

The poinsettia has a bad reputation, but the holly and mistletoe score higher on the toxicity scale. These plants are known to cause reactions if ingested. The sap in these plants are the cause of gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, drooling, possible diarrhea and walking off balance (ataxia). The symptoms observed are mostly mild when dealing with Poinsettias, but can be quite severe for those with a taste for the mistletoe.  If any of these symptoms are observed (at any time of year) one should question if their curious companion has eaten any plants.

Extra supervision with puppies and kittens is strongly encouraged. They love to explore with their mouths. They’re learning all about different tastes and textures. Some have a taste for brand new shoes, others a taste for foliage. Though neither of these options are ideal, let alone safe; providing appropriate chew toys can help alleviate some holiday stress.

Get in contact with your veterinarian at Baxter Animal Hospital to get the best direction on how to address your concerns. We do not recommend home remedies as they can often make matters worse and more uncomfortable for your pet. The pet poison helpline is another great 24-7 service with an educational website to help ensure owners can take the appropriate steps in the right direction.

Make the home as safe as possible. Place poinsettias on shelves rather than countertops and end-tables. Consider adding deterrents near the plants, like empty water bottles filled with coins to make a startling noise if knocked over. Holly and mistletoe are often hung high and out of reach to most so one may be content with the minimal risk. Maybe avoiding these plants all together might be what works for you to ensure a safe and happy holiday. Whatever you decide, be re-assured your veterinary team is at your service!

Happy Holidays.

Holley McKee, RVT