Holiday Plants That Are Harmful to Cats and Dogs

Holiday Plants That Are Toxic to Pets

January 29, 2019
Cats and Holiday Plants
Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock

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We have two new kittens at our house—Fred and Ginger—and they seem to be doubly curious about everything! If you face similar challenges, here is a naughty list of holiday plants from the ASPCA that could be harmful to your cat or dog.

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Fred & Ginger take a well-deserved rest from attacking the houseplants.

They egg each other on and nothing is sacred. I have had lots of cats over the years but none have ever been as interested in my houseplants as these two.

Many an orchid leaf is now pierced with tiny teethmarks.

They are enthusiastic diggers and the poor succulents are getting tired of being uprooted and dragged around the house.

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It wasn’t until a friend gave me pot of paperwhite bulbs that I became concerned about the toxic nature of some plants, especially those that are prominent at the holidays.

Here is a naughty list of holiday plants from the ASPCA that could be harmful to your cat or dog:

  • Paperwhite narcissus can cause vomiting, salivation, or diarrhea. The bulb is the most poisonous part of the plant and if they eat enough it can cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias.

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  • Mistletoe can cause vomiting. diarrhea, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and a low heart rate.
  • Amaryllis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, and tremors.

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  • Cyclamen can cause salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. If they eat a lot of the tubers they can suffer heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, and death!
  • Clivia can cause vomiting, salivation, and diarrhea. The bulbs are the most poisonous part of the plant and eating large amounts can cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and heart arrhythmias.

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  • Kalanchoe can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In rare cases it can cause abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Begonias can cause vomiting and salivation. The most toxic part is the root or tuber.
  • Jerusalem cherry is a nightshade and can cause gastrointestinal disturbances and ulcerations, seizures, depression, respiratory issues, and shock.

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  • Poinsettia can irritate the mouth and stomach and may cause vomiting but according to the ASPCA its toxicity has been overrated.

See more (non-Christmas) plants that are toxic to cats, dog, rabbits, and other pets.

On the positive side, Christmas cactus is non-toxic to dogs and cats, so that is one holiday plant that can be gifted without worry to your pet owning friends. See how to care for a Christmas cactus.

Happy and safe holidays to all in your family, whether two- or four-footed.

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.

Reader Comments

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Thank you!

This time of year we see far too many cats and dogs getting sick, some with life-threatening symptoms, simply because they found a lovely plant and decided it was a salad bar!

And thank you for the updated info on poinsettias...at one time it was thought to cause liver damage, but that has been shown not to be the case. It WILL make your pet sick if they eat enough, and it can occasionally cause canker sores (which in my experience seems to happen more to dogs than cats. No idea why.). Not that that's EVER stopped any of my 4 cats from taking a nibble!

A good rule of thumb is, if it comes from a bulb/tuber, it's toxic, especially to cats. Doesn't matter if we're talking daffodils or garlic, lilies or vidalias, iris or turmeric--pretty much every bulb or tuber-based plant contains compounds that are lethal to pets, even in small amounts.

If you're gifted any of these, take it to your office, put it somewhere your pet can't reach (quite a challenge with a cat, I know), or--gasp!--re-gift it to someone without pets!

--Stephanie Csornok
25+ year animal rescuer

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