Holiday Plants That are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

Last week we took part in webinar presented by the Pet Poison Hotline on Holiday Dangers to Pets. We wanted to spend a minute focusing on the discussion of holiday plants – and which ones are toxic to dogs and cats – as some of the information really surprised us.

The Pet Poison Hotline focused on 5 plants: poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, lilies and the Japanese yew. Now we’ve all heard that poinsettias are poisonous, but according to the webinar, fear of toxicity from poinsettias is over rated because pets will self-limit their exposure. The poinsettia sap is an irritant and there might be some gastro intestinal upset, but not the acute toxicity that many associate with poinsettias. Turns out that this is also true for both holly and mistletoe, except for European Mistletoe which is more toxic, so provided you’re not importing your mistletoe, go ahead and put up those wreaths and grab a quick kiss!

On the other hand both lilies and the Japanese Yew are really something to worry about. The Japanese yew is sometimes referred to as the “tree of death.”  It grows everywhere including in the United States and because it is green and has red berries it is often used in Christmas wreaths. Making it even worse, the Japanese yew is most toxic in the winter months and remains toxic even when it’s dried. The Pet Poison Hotline presented stories of the Japanese Yew killing cows when someone threw a wreath in a pasture! The lethal does is a mere 2.3 grams per kilogram. So a dog the size of a Newfoundland like Splash (roughly 120 pounds or so) would need to eat less than 4 ounces of Japanese yew to reach the toxic dose! So be careful of this stuff and keep it away from your pets!

Lastly the Pet Poison Hotline presented information about lilies. First, it turns out that lilies are not toxic plants to dogs! But that doesn’t help our feline friends who are extremely susceptible to renal failure from being exposed to lilies. All parts of a lily are extremely toxic for cats – this even includes pollen that might just fall off the lily and land on a cat which then grooms itself.  According to the Pet Poison Hotline, if your cat knocked over a vase of lilies and drank the water it would be poisoned! Second, if a cat eats  only a leaf or two it is at risk for renal failure. That said, on the positive side, only “true” lilies like the Eastern, Tiger and Asiatic lilies are toxic plants for cats. So this means that the Calla Lilly, Peace Lilly and the Lilly of the Valley are excluded from the types of lilies that cause renal failure even if these plants might cause other problems. The Peruvian Lilly which is also used in lots of cut flower bouquets is completely non-toxic to cats (so ask your florist for lots of those).

We’ve included a link to the webinar for those pet parents who want more information about holiday plants that are toxic to cats and dogs, or the other holiday dangers discussed.

Should we not have the pleasure of seeing you or your pet during the rest of the holiday season, all of us at Pet Camp wish you a relaxing, fun and stress free rest of the 2013 and we look forward to seeing you and your camper in 2014.
Thanks for reading!