5 Holiday Plants More Toxic Than Poinsettias to Cats and Dogs

If you have a cat or a dog then you know all too well, that they’ll eat just about anything.

Grass, shoes (especially sandals), bottle tops, homework – and that’s just dogs.

Add cats into the mix and there’s a whole lot more.

Yep, cats and dogs like to eat and chew. And while that certainly can be annoying all year round. When the holidays roll around it can also become dangerous. Especially when it comes to all of the holiday decorations, the holiday feasts and yes…

The holiday plants.

Things like…Mistletoe, holly, and Christmas trees (both real and fake) can all cause a quick trip to the vet— and trust me I know from experience, the more of an emergency it is…the larger the bill.

And nothing will put a damper on your holiday shopping faster than a big fat vet bill.

According to Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, "When you bring plants into the house, it's important to know what you're bringing in before an animal can get to it”.

What’s surprising is that poinsettias — a common fear among pet owners — is actually less toxic than many of the other potted plants you'll find during the holiday season.

You might have asked yourself, "How long do cats live?" Well, that might depend on you. Here are the plants you need to keep an eye on in between all of the holiday festivities.


Most people don’t realize that there are actually two different species of mistletoe. But it’s the American kind that you’ll usually find hanging over your head as you walk into every holiday party.

And while the unwanted kisses are certainly a concern, the real problem is when the occasional mistletoe sprig falls to the floor, because that’s when the pets can get them.

Just one little bite is enough to make your cat or dog sick – usually, they’ll vomit and then get really sleepy. If you’re pet vomits and you think that they may have ingested some sort of poisonous plant, Dr. Wismer recommends you remove all of their food and water for a few hours to allow their stomach time to settle. If the vomiting continues, you’ll want to get them to the vet right away.


"Holly can cause an issue two different ways," says Dr. Wismer "First, if it has the little points on it, that can be very mechanically irritating to the stomach and cause vomiting. But the holly also does contain compounds called saponins, which are soap-like and cause severe stomach irritation."

This combination can cause your pet's vomit to contain blood — and if you see blood in the vomit, you need to get them to the vet asap. Your vet can stop the vomiting with medication, give your pet some IV fluids to rehydrate them and use “stomach protectors. These drugs reduce stomach acidity while creating a protective coating that can reduce stomach irritation and protect them from ulcers.

Christmas Trees

Evergreen trees, including pine, fir, and spruce, contain small amounts of essential oils that make it smell great but can be very upsetting to your pet’s stomach. The real danger is when your pet consumes a large amount.  If your pet develops a habit of eating trees whether they are real or fake it can create a big problem. Primarily because enough needles can form a blockage in their GI tract.

Luckily that’s rare and according to Dr. Wisner, she’s only seen it five or six times in over 20 years of practice. However, it is life-threatening and does require surgery. If you find that your pets like to chew on your tree, there are a few things you can do. For one, don’t put decorations on your tree that are food based. Things like popcorn and salt-dough ornaments are particularly tempting.

Tinsel can also be very tempting to cats. Plus, it can cause obstructions if your cat swallows it.


If you like to buy flowers for others during the holidays, think twice when you’re sending them to cat owners. White and stargazer lilies which are both common in flower arrangements can be very toxic to cats.

Even if they groom themselves after brushing up against it can cause kidney failure. That’s without even taking a bite. And if you still want to send flowers or plants to your cat owner friends as a holiday gift, stick with a non-toxic Christmas cactus.


Neither the blooms nor the tall slender stalks will cause an emergency visit to your vet, but the bulbs will. Toxins located in the parts under the dirt can cause vomiting, with or without blood. They can also cause low blood pressure. Which means, a trip to the vet.


Finally, we have our favorite holiday flower…poinsettias.

But guess what?

This Christmas classic isn’t poisonous.

According to Dr. Wismer, while eating a few leaves can cause mild upset stomach,  it is NOT fatal.

And if you must have any of these holiday flowers around your home, you’re much better off putting them into a closed-off room until you have guests.

Then after the party…lock them up again.