Are poinsettias safe for dogs?

Many of us have a lot of gift buying to do each year at Christmas, and many of us also take great pride in matching the gift with the recipient. We pick the perfect book out for the avid reader, the ideal toy for the toddler, and the most drinkable bottle of wine for the enophile in the family. By the time you’ve done all that though, you just want to get the whole thing over and done with. What do you get the neighbour who has everything? Or the aunt who wants nothing? Well, this is what leads many of us to purchasing poinsettias – a plant and flower synonymous with Christmas. But should you buy a poinsettia for a dog owner? Or are these festive plants a danger to dogs? Let’s find out…

Pretty and poisonous? 

Well, yes, poinsettias are, unfortunately poisonous to dogs (and cats for that matter) but they’re not so highly toxic that you need to avoid giving them to your pet-loving relative or friend. In fact, while the ingesting of poinsettia sap (which is milky white in colour) isn’t good for your pet, it won’t cause any life-threatening issues. The worst cases usually result in some vomiting, dribbling and very rarely, diarrhoea. 

If your pooch is seen munching on a leaf from this plant, take it away from them as soon as you can (and maybe put the dog outside or at least in a room with an easily cleaned floor) and keep an eye on them. They almost certainly won’t require a trip to the vet, but it’s worth determining which end the issues are likely to come from.

So if you do buy a poinsettia for a dog-owner, you can tell them that it won’t cause their pet any long-term or serious issues if they nibble on it, but it’s probably best to keep it on a higher shelf away from greedy and inquisitive mouths. 

Other Christmas plants

While poinsettias won’t cause too many issues even if munched on by the dog, there are other Christmas plants and foliage that can cause more serious issues and it’s worth listing them here for your peace of mind.

  • Holly – The spiked leaves can cause bleeding in the mouth or throat, and the berries are very toxic for dogs, cats and humans, and can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting.
  • Mistletoe – The Mistletoe you hang at home is likely only slightly toxic for dogs, though the vomiting and diarrhoea come into this again. Another one to keep up high.
  • Pinecones – You find these everywhere at this time of year and thankfully, these are not toxic to dogs. They can be choking hazards though, so keep an eye out for that.

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