During the holidays, Poinsettias are a popular Christmas plant. The milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated. The pets that may be affected are: Cats, Dogs, Horses, Cows, Birds.
Common signs to watch for:
- Licking lips
- Dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness)
Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe. Just one or two bites from a lily can result in severe acute kidney failure in cats – even the pollen is thought to be poisonous! Other yuletide pants such as holly berries, mistletoe, and rosemary can also be toxic to dogs and cats. When Christmas or English holly is ingested, it can result in severe gastrointestinal upset thanks to the spiny leaves and the potentially toxic substances (including saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens). If ingested, most dogs and cats lip smack, drool, and head shake excessively due to the mechanical injury from the spiny leaves. As for mistletoe, most of us hang it high enough so it’s out of reach of our dogs and cats – nevertheless, it can also be toxic if ingested. Thankfully, American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties of it. Mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation are seen, although if ingested in large amounts, collapse, hypotension, ataxia (walking drunk), seizures and death have also been reported.
Take care of your furry-legged friends this Holiday Season!