Are Christmas Plants dangerous for our Pets?

Looking at Christmas from a dog’s perspective, there are lots of exciting and unusual things appearing in your home, making it a very appealing time for them to get into all kinds of mischief. There are many interesting wrapped gifts, sparkling decorations, enticing foods and unusual trees and plants. Your dog will no doubt be interested in them all, but it is particularly the flora and foliage that may be harmful if eaten by your pets.

It is important to assess, when bringing anything new into your home, if there will be any risk to your pet, or have any impact on them. Taking these risks into account, here is our list of the most popular Christmas plants that are more common in our homes during the festive season, and details of their suitability for having them around your dogs.

Christmas Trees

There are many varieties of Christmas Trees, with most of them having low toxic levels if chewed or swallowed, but you could well find that if the needles from the branches are chewed, the oil may irritate the dog’s stomach and mouth. Fir tree needles are also very sharp and may cause perforation or cuts to the mouth if munched. Look out for symptoms of excess saliva, diarrhoea and sickness.

Decorations on your Christmas tree will also be tempting for your inquisitive pet, who may consider them to be toys, yet if chewed, glass baubles can splinter, tinsel will cause a stomach blockage if swallowed and tree lights, if damaged can result in electric shock if the cable is snapped. Take care if you erect your Christmas Tree in the room your pets are allowed into, and never leave your animals alone to get up to mischief.

Holly

Thanks to its sharp leaves and bitter taste, most dogs are probably not going to eat the holly leaves, but it is considered to be toxic if ingested. It takes only a small amount of holly to be consumed, to make your pet quite ill. As the holly leaves are very spikey, they can easily scratch your dog’s eyes and ears, and take care if he thinks the branches are for pulling at and retrieving. During the winter, the red berries are very attractive, but if eaten can cause a stomach upset.

Ivy

Prolonged or substantial skin contact with this vine can result in an allergic reaction, skin dermatitis or severe irritation. If consumed, a tummy upset may ensue.

Poinsettia

We all love the vibrant red colours of the Poinsettia plant, yet while it’s often reported as being highly toxic, recent studies have shown that ingestion of this plant may not be as harmful as previously thought. If you have these plants in your home, keep well out of the reach of your pets, to avoid any irritation if eaten. Look out for vomiting and excessive salivation, and irritation to the stomach and mouth.

Mistletoe

In recent years, mistletoe has had a revival, and is now very popular in the festive home, when making wreaths and table centrepieces. Mistletoe is very poisonous to pets, especially if the white berries are eaten. Serious health symptoms may arise, including heart problems, breathing difficulties, gastrointestinal upsets, brain and nerve damage, and in extreme cases, death. If you insist on having mistletoe in your home, keep it high up so that your dog cannot reach it, and of course make sure no berries fall onto the floor, where he can easily pick them up.

There are many other species of plants that are dangerous for your pets. Although it is traditional to bring them into our homes at Christmas, it’s wise to know which ones are safe before you buy them. Do some research, or ask at your local garden centre for advice.

If your dog does happen to eat any of these mentioned plants and berries, look out for symptoms that he is unwell, and contact your Vet for help and advice. On behalf odf Finchley Dog Walker Have a happy and safe Christmas.