Holiday Plant Hazards

The holidays are full of food, fun, and family. They also present a few hazards for our animal companions! Read on to find out more about keeping your pet safe from plant hazards during the holiday season.

The Tree

If you’ve set up a holiday tree in your home this year, it’s important to be aware of a few potential dangers. Not only can the ornaments and lights adorning your tree prove hazardous if a pet tries to play with them, parts of the tree itself can cause harm. Fir trees produce an oil that can irritate a pet’s mouth or stomach, possibly leading to vomiting. Pine needles can irritate a pet’s stomach and even puncture the stomach lining. Keep a close eye on your animal friend when they’re playing near the tree.


A pet would have to ingest quite a lot of a poinsettia plant to actually experience symptoms of poisoning; that doesn’t mean the plants are entirely safe, though. The poinsettia’s leaves contain a sap that can irritate a pet’s mouth, esophagus, and stomach—if enough is ingested, a pet is sure to experience excessive drooling or vomiting. Plus, a poinsettia plant may have been treated with a pesticide or fertilizer product, which you don’t want your four-legged friend ingesting.

Mistletoe and Holly

These popular plants aren’t safe for pets—both the plant material and berries of holly and mistletoe contain toxins that can cause serious symptoms, including stomach upset, abdominal pain, drooling, low blood pressure, diarrhea, and vomiting. Holly and mistletoe may even prove deadly if enough is ingested! Don’t allow your pet access to these plants under any circumstances.


Did you know that various species of lilies are toxic to cats, and may harm dogs as well? Even small amounts of the lily plant can cause loss of appetite, lethargy, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and—without prompt treatment—seizures or worse. Since lilies are common in bouquets and gift packages during the holidays, pay extra attention this time of year.

Autumn Decorations

You may still have plant decorations around from back in the fall season—while common autumn plants like pumpkins, gourds, and decorative corn aren’t necessarily toxic to animals, they can present a choking hazard or cause intestinal upset when swallowed. As we transition from one season to another, it’s important to consider various safety aspects for our pets. For more seasonal pet safety tips, you might find our article on Back To School Pet Safety helpful.

Our Advice on Holiday Plant Hazards in 2024

What are the signs and symptoms of poinsettia sap irritation in pets?

Signs and symptoms of poinsettia sap irritation in pets include drooling, vomiting, and oral discomfort. The sap from poinsettia leaves can irritate a pet’s mouth, esophagus, and stomach, leading to excessive drooling and vomiting if ingested in significant quantities. Pets may also show signs of mouth discomfort, such as pawing at the mouth or reluctance to eat. Although poinsettias are less toxic than commonly believed, it’s important to keep them out of reach to prevent any potential irritation or ingestion of pesticides or fertilizers used on the plants.

Are there any long-term health consequences for pets who have ingested toxic holiday plants?

Ingesting toxic holiday plants can lead to long-term health consequences for pets. For instance, severe poisoning from mistletoe or holly can cause lasting organ damage, including liver and kidney failure. Lilies are particularly dangerous for cats, often resulting in acute kidney failure if not treated promptly, potentially leading to chronic kidney disease or death. Even if pets survive initial poisoning, they may experience prolonged health issues, such as gastrointestinal problems or decreased organ function. Immediate veterinary care is crucial to mitigate these risks and ensure the best possible outcome for the pet.

How quickly do symptoms of plant toxicity typically appear in pets?

Symptoms of plant toxicity in pets typically appear within a few hours of ingestion. Initial signs can include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, such as with mistletoe or lilies, symptoms may escalate to lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, or seizures within 24 hours. Prompt recognition and immediate veterinary intervention are crucial to prevent serious health consequences. Monitoring pets closely after suspected ingestion of toxic plants ensures timely treatment and improves the likelihood of a full recovery.

What specific lily species are most dangerous to cats and dogs, and are there any parts of the plant (e.g., leaves, pollen, or stems) that are more toxic than others?

Species of lilies most dangerous to cats include Easter lilies, Tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies, and Daylilies. Even small amounts of any part of these plants—leaves, stems, petals, or pollen—can cause severe toxicity. Ingesting or even licking the pollen can lead to acute kidney failure in cats. Dogs are less sensitive but can still suffer gastrointestinal upset from these plants. Immediate veterinary care is essential if there is any suspicion of lily ingestion to prevent serious health consequences, particularly in cats.

Can pets experience allergic reactions to holiday plants, even if they don’t ingest them?

Yes, pets can experience allergic reactions to holiday plants even without ingesting them. Contact with certain plants, such as pine needles or poinsettia sap, can cause skin irritation or dermatitis, leading to symptoms like redness, itching, and swelling. Additionally, inhaling pollen or plant particles can trigger respiratory issues, including sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge. It’s important to monitor pets for signs of allergic reactions when holiday plants are present and to minimize their exposure to these potential allergens to ensure their safety and comfort during the holiday season.

If you would like to know more about keeping your pet safe during the holidays, give us a call. We’re here to help! If you notice any signs of allergic reactions or skin irritations in your pet due to exposure to holiday plants, our Pet Allergies and Veterinary Dermatology service can provide specialized care.

Contact us, your local animal clinic in Hobe Sound, FL!

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