Holiday Hazards 6: Toxic Plants


The holidays often mean decorating with plants or receiving plants as gifts. But before placing that plant in your pet’s reach, make sure the plant is non-toxic to pets! There are some great resources available that will help you decide if that plant is a great decoration…or a potential holiday hazard:

What are some common toxic plants available around the holidays, and what symptoms do they cause?

Mistletoe: Gastrointestinal, cardiovascular (including collapse), respiratory, behavioral effects.

Cyclamen: Vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation. In large ingestions, heart arrhythmias, seizures and death are possible.

Peace Lily: These plants have calcium oxalate crystals that can be very irritating to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms can include oral irritation, hypersalivation, trouble swallowing, vomiting.

Poinsettia: Mouth or stomach irritation, possibly with vomiting.

Norfolk Island Pine: Vomiting, depression.

Holly: Vomiting, hypersalivation, inappetance, diarrhea.

Pothos: These plants have calcium oxalate crystals as well. Symtpoms would be similar to those of the Peace Lily.


What if you realize your pet has eaten a plant?

Contact Lawndale Veterinary Hospital or check the ASPCA or Pet Poison Helpline information to see whether the plant is toxic. You should always call your veterinarian if you have any concerns or are unsure of the toxicity. The ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline also have a veterinarian on call at all times for poisoning consultations (fees may apply).

It is also important to consider that while some plants may not be toxic, they may still cause gastrointestinal signs either from the foreign plant material or the quantity eaten. This becomes a bigger concern if your pet has an underlying, chronic medical condition (e.g., diabetes, pancreatitis, intestinal issues, etc.).


Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS