There’s very little that will take the merry out of Christmas more than a sick pet — especially a sick pet who has gorged on toxic holiday plants. Do you know which plants to keep clear of your dogs and cats? Here is a list of common holiday plants and which ones are toxic for your pets.

Mistletoe: Extremely Toxic

Keep your mistletoe hung up in doorways for unsuspecting couples—and out of reach of your pets. Mistletoe is extremely toxic. In small amounts, the plant and berries can prompt vomiting and drooling in dogs and cats. In larger doses, mistletoe can cause low blood pressure, elevated heart rate, seizures, and death. If you think your dog has ingested any mistletoe, call your vet.

Holly: Toxic

Holly, by any name, is toxic to dogs and cats. Holly, sometimes called inkberry, winterberry, English holly, European holly, and other names, will cause vomiting, diarrhea, and depression, according to the ASPCA. If you think your pet has eaten holly, it’s time for a trip to the vet. 

Christmas Tree: Mildly Toxic

Your holiday evergreen is classified as mildly toxic for household pets. It won’t kill them, but if dogs or cats ingest the sap or drink the water, it can cause tummy upset and drooling. If your animals get sap on their fur, make sure you clean it immediately, so they don’t lick it off. Most dogs and cats are not likely to chew on or lick the Christmas tree. 

If they do nibble on the branches, it could cause stomach irritation. In extreme cases, pine tree sap can damage cats’ livers. You’ll also want to keep your pets away from the tree water, which has preservatives and tree sap in it. If your dog just can’t resist the tree water, cover it to keep him out, or better yet, go for a live tree and plant it in the backyard when the holiday season is over.

Your pets might find the tree irresistible to climb or crawl inside — and that may be the real danger. Instead of poisoning them, the real risk may be an injury from the tree falling over. Make sure you secure your tree well — and watch for anything that your dog or cat might chew on, like strings of lights or tinsel.

Poinsettia: Mildly Toxic

The poinsettia has a bad reputation for being poisonous to pets — a reputation that’s unfounded. That goes for pets and people. If you do happen to find your toddler or your dog with a mouthful of poinsettia leaves, you’ll want to call the doctor, but you don’t need to panic. The brilliant red and green poinsettia will cause an upset stomach and drooling — but it won’t kill your pets. Your best bet here is to simply keep your festive poinsettias out of reach of any mischievous creatures who might venture to taste them.

Roses: Nontoxic

Growers say the reason roses on Valentine’s Day are so expensive is because there’s such a huge demand for them around Christmas. There’s not much time for rose bushes to produce more flowers between the two holidays. The good news is the ASPCA says roses are nontoxic to dogs, cats, and horses. Feel free to add festive red roses to your holiday decor without fear of hurting your furry family members. By the way, rose petals are edible and make a great cocktail garnish!

It’s easy to create a balance between your pets’ health and safety and a festive holiday decor. Knowing which plants are toxic will help you plan better. But how can you know for sure if your puppy or kitten has eaten something they shouldn’t have? (Including holiday chocolate?) A fitBark monitor will alert you and your vet to any sudden changes. It could save their life if a thoughtless guest has brought dropped something poisonous or your pet climbed higher than you anticipated. Curiosity doesn’t have to kill the cat… or dog … if you know what to watch out for. 


About the Author: Sheri Wallace is a dog trainer who also owns a doggie bath and grooming business. When she’s not working with dogs, you’ll find her in her backyard gardening alongside her Siberian husky and pug.