Poisonous Holiday Plants by June Morgan, Master Gardener.
If you have been following the columns by Master Gardeners, you are well aware of the main toxic plants such as poison oak and ivy found in the summer. But decorative winter plants also have their dangers, especially those prevalent during the holidays which can pose special threats to our pets and children.
Poinsettias have a reputation for being poisonous, but it would be unlikely for a pet or child to ingest enough of the leaves to be really dangerous as the sap is irritating to the mouth. Holly and mistletoe have a higher level of toxicity to both dogs and cats, causing severe intestinal disturbances, and if large amounts are ingested, seizures and even death. Oils of a fir tree can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and stomach causing vomiting or drooling, while the needles can cause gastric irritation, obstruction and intestinal puncture. The tree’s water container may have dangerous preservative chemicals and bacterial growth.
Many gift plants are toxic. Some lilies are more dangerous than others. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies will only cause irritation and minor drooling, whereas Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies are highly toxic to cats. Even 2-3 leaves or petals ingested mandate an immediate trip to a veterinarian for aggressive treatment to prevent kidney failure.
It is hard to resist the stunning blossoms of cyclamen, but the ingested roots will cause severe vomiting and possible death. Amaryllis bulbs, often planted to bloom for Christmas and New Year’s, are even more highly toxic than the flowers and leaves, producing tremors, vomiting and diarrhea, intestinal pain, and lethargy. Other popular gift plants causing severe problems for pets include azalea, diffenbachia , daffodils, tulips, and kalanchoe. Ingesting any of these means a trip to the vet.
The Animal Poison Control Center is available 24/7 at 855-764-7661. Here’s hoping that you never have to use it.