As the snow starts to fall and the temperature cools down, thoughts turn toward the holidays – and holiday decorating. Wreaths and trees, holly and ivy – and that most familiar of holiday plants, the poinsettia. Poinsettias are native to Central and South America and aren’t really a flower at all, but the bright red leaves of the plant make them a popular Christmas decoration.
It’s not just their red color that gives them their association with Christmas, however. Ancient Mexican legend holds that a young girl had nothing to bring to the baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Her cousin assured her that Jesus would appreciate any present – even the smallest one. The young girl picked some weeds to make a bouquet. When she placed them at the foot of the nativity, the green plants turned into red flowers. Thus, the poinsettia made its way into the Christmas tradition.
While poinsettias are beautiful and will make any room look festive, pet owners have often heard that they should be wary of the beautiful plant. Is this true? Are poinsettias toxic? And how can you best protect Fido and Fluffy during the holiday season?
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Poinsettia – A Beautiful Addition to Any Home
People around the world adorn their homes in red and green throughout the holiday season, and a popular plant to include in these festive decorations is the poinsettia. Their rich green leaves sit below a bright red flower, which often seems to scream Christmas.
Unfortunately, their festive beauty may also be dangerous to animals.
Are Poinsettias Safe for Dogs?
Can poinsettias hurt dogs?
Poinsettias are considered mildly toxic plants. Their milky white sap may cause stomach troubles that could include vomiting, drooling, or diarrhea if ingested. Your pup could also experience some skin irritation.
That said, the reaction to eating these plans is relatively mild. Is it toxic? Slightly, yes. Is it deadly? No, probably not.
Are Poinsettias Safe for Cats?
Can Poinsettias hurt cats?
As with dogs, the toxins in poinsettias can also be toxic to cats if ingested. Still, your cat would probably not experience a severe reaction. Like dogs, cats may react to the milky toxin from these plants. In addition, because cats tend to do more climbing, they can get to the plant even when you think you have put it out of reach.
What Can Happen If Your Pet Eats Poinsettia Leaves?
So, are poinsettias dangerous for pets in general?
While your pet’s response to ingesting poinsettia will likely be mild, this may not be true in all cases. Animals may vomit, have bouts of diarrhea, or perhaps a skin rash.
Some pet owners will find that they prefer not to risk these complications at all. After all, the furry members of your family deserve a peaceful and enjoyable holiday as well.
Not to mention, veterinary care may be reduced over the holidays, which could make it challenging to have your pet seen by a professional if a problem did creep up.
Tips For Keeping Pets Safe Around Poinsettias
The best way to keep your pet from ingesting a poinsettia is to forego the plant as a decoration.
However, if poinsettias are something you just can’t live without, as a responsible pet owner, there are several things you can do to help keep your pet safe.
Consider putting plants out of pets’ reach on high shelf or on top a cabinet. You could also continue researching this topic to carefully investigate the risk to your own pet.
Or, if you decide that the risk simply isn’t worth it, you may choose an alternative option.
Store Poinsettias high and away from pets
If you are concerned about your dog gaining access to your beautiful poinsettia plant, consider putting it out of their reach.
The kitchen table or counter may be an excellent place to display your plant. However, if your home has cats, this task may become more difficult for, as every cat owner knows, cats love to climb.
In this case, consider a hanging basket by your back windows. If it hangs from the ceiling, your cat is much less likely to try to gain access to it. You could also place your Poinsettia outside if your cat is strictly an indoor cat.
Carefully Research the Toxicity Level of Poinsettias and What To Do If Ingested
One of our most significant powers of defense is research. Inform yourself about the threat to your pet and how to respond.
Are poinsettias toxic? Technically, yes. Will it kill your pet or make them very ill? Probably not.
The toxicity of these plants has definitely been overhyped over the years. Still, you can find a lot of reliable information about how eating a poinsettia could impact your specific pet from the American Kennel Club and websites like First Vet.
Your research will also turn up information about how to help and respond to your pet should they ingest poinsettia leaves. Remember, your pet’s reaction will probably be mild and not require a doctor’s visit.
Consider Artificial Poinsettias as a Pet-Safe Option
If you absolutely love the look of the poinsettia, but the thought of your furry pet getting sick simply feels like too great of a risk, consider the safe option of an artificial poinsettia.
Silk flowers will provide the beauty of the poinsettia with none of the worry that your pet might eat it. Silk flowers are also economical because you can reuse them year after year.
During the shop small day on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, consider venturing to a local craft fair or even on Etsy to see the many offerings available. Artisans can create magnificent pieces that you will treasure for years to come and feel confident that it will not cause diarrhea for your cat or dog.
Though poinsettias may be mildly toxic, they are not deadly to your cat or dog. Pets may experience some tummy troubles, but they will likely recover without visiting the veterinarian. If you and your family choose not to risk any complications at all, there are several options at your disposal. One of the safest options is to invest in a beautiful silk arrangement that will not endanger your pet in any way.
Thank you for taking the time to research this issue, and we would love to hear from you! What questions do you have about poinsettias and protecting your pets from them? Have you ever had a pet ingest poinsettia? Were they okay afterward? We’d love to hear your story!