How to Prevent Christmas Plant Toxicities in Your Pet

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Dog sitting next to Christmas tree and string lights
Dog Sitting Next To Christmas Tree And String Lights

When it comes to Christmas tree disasters and pets, most worry about a dog or cat tipping over the tree or pulling down the ornaments. But, what about pups or kitties that eat the tree? Is it toxic? Take a look at potential threats to pet safety that may be caused by Christmas trees, holiday plants, and other Christmas decorations.

Christmas Trees

The most common live Christmas trees are fir, scotch, and pine species. Generally, these trees are only mildly toxic. If the pet eats a lot, then the toxicity level increases.

Christmas tree oils can ​be irritating to the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting. Tree needles are not easily digested and may cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, obstruction, or puncture.

Make sure your pets cannot access the Christmas tree water. Dogs and cats that drink the water can get ill from the preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers, or other agents, such as aspirin, that are commonly put in the tree water to keep the tree fresh. A covered tree water dish is your best safeguard.

black long coated dog on green grass field during daytime
black long coated dog on green grass field during daytime

Live Christmas trees are not the only concern. Artificial trees may consist of materials that are toxic and non-digestible materials that can cause an intestinal obstruction.

A redeeming feature of tree materials is that they are prickly and not usually pleasant to chew. Regularly, pets will not consume large quantities of tree material.

If you suspect your pet has chewed on the Christmas tree or any other plants, monitor your pet for excessive licking or water consumption, unusual salivating, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you are concerned, contact your veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680.

To prevent Christmas tree mishaps, confine your pets when you are not home and supervise your pets when they are loose around the tree.

black dog sitting on ground
black dog sitting on ground
golden retriever
golden retriever
adult fawn shih tzu
adult fawn shih tzu

Holiday Plants

Festive plants may pose threats to your pets. Toxic holiday plants include mistletoe, holly, and the milky sap of poinsettias, which can cause mild vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea.

Showy amaryllis blooms are a popularly displayed flower during the winter season. The flowers and leaves are toxic, and the flower's bulb is even more toxic. If your pet ingests the flowers and leaves, then vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea will likely occur. If your pet eats the bulb, especially a large amount, it can cause weakness, tremors, seizures, and changes in blood pressure.

Cat sitting near poinsettia
Cat Sitting Near Poinsettia

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights on the tree and elsewhere in the home may pose a hazard to curious pets. If your pet chews on the electric cords or the string of lights, it can cause electric shock or burns in the mouth. Keep your pets away from the cords. Check wires regularly for signs of chewing and general wear and tear.

Electrical shock can kill your pet. If your pet gets shocked, it can cause a buildup of fluid within its lungs called non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema. This condition can cause breathing problems and can be fatal.

An oral cavity burn can cause significant pain and result in your pet refusing food. If you notice that your pet is reluctant to eat, drooling, or showing signs of a painful mouth (not wanting to play with its toys), seek medical care for your pet immediately.

Holiday Ornaments

Christmas ornaments may also pose a risk. Ball-loving dogs may not be able to resist shiny glass globes that appear ripe for the picking. Cats may not be able to pass up a swinging bell that moves with the breeze. For the safety of your pets, monitor their activity, and keep these items away from your four-legged friends. These items can cause gastrointestinal blockage or rupture. Also, depending on what materials were used to make the ornament, toxicity may result if ingested.

Cat near Christmas ornaments
Cat Near Christmas Ornaments