Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?

Jane Bertin
By Jane Bertin, Journalist specialized in animal welfare. Updated: December 13, 2018
Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?

During the Christmas season, our home is filled with shiny baubles and decorative ornaments that can pose a serious risk to our pets. This includes the decorations on the Christmas tree, but also the tree itself and other Christmas plants.

Most people know that ivy and holly are toxic for humans, but are Christmas plants poisonous to dogs and cats?

The answer is yes. Here at AnimalWised we'll do our best to help you prevent your pet from getting poisoned with some tips and explanations; the first one is to keep the Christmas plants well out of your pets' reach. But what are Christmas plants? Are they all poisonous for all animals? Stay with us and discover it.

You may also be interested in: Are Ferns Poisonous to Cats?


  1. Poinsettia
  2. Mistletoe
  3. Holly
  4. Christmas tree
  5. Other toxic plants for dogs and cats
  6. Articles related to Christmas


Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is one of the most beautiful and popular plants during the holiday season. Its deep red color and easy maintenance make it one of the first choices to decorate our home.

However, as many of you know, this Christmas plant is poisonous to dogs and cats. It is especially dangerous, because its bright red leaves are a source of attraction to playful pets. While not as toxic as urban legend has it, the sap and latex are dangerous and can cause irritation, diarrhea and vomiting.

Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? - Poinsettia


Mistletoe (Santalales) is another typical Christmas plant that can draw our pets' attention because of its tiny white balls.

There are many species of mistletoe. European or common mistletoe (Viscum album) is the most widely used for Christmas, and it has a protein called viscumin that inhibits the protein synthesis process. American or hairy mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) has poisonous berries, which slow the pulse, lower blood pressure and cause strong digestive problems.

Although their level of toxicity is not particularly high, they can be a problem if our dog or cat eats too many of them. Mistletoe should be placed high enough to be difficult to access; this way, you'll prevent accidents.

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Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? - Mistletoe


Holly (Aquifoliaceae) is another traditional Christmas plant, especially common or English holly (Ilex aquifolium).

We can recognize it by its characteristic, spiky leaves and bright red berries. Even in small doses, holly can cause serious damage to your pet. It is a highly poisonous Christmas plant that causes vomiting and diarrhea; moreover, it has caffeine, which dogs and cats cannot digest.

The effects of holly in animals can be serious, so take precautions.

Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? - Holly

Christmas tree

Although it may not seem dangerous, the traditional fir that many of us use as a Christmas tree can be a serious risk for our pet's health and safety. Pets, especially dogs, may swallow the fir leaves; these needle-shaped leaves are tough and sharp, and they can perforate their intestine.

The sap of the Christmas tree, and even the water accumulating in the pot, can be seriously dangerous for your pets. Discover how to prevent holiday accidents with our article about what to do if your dog eats the Christmas tree.

Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? - Christmas tree

Other toxic plants for dogs and cats

In addition to these traditional Christmas plants, there are many other plants that are also toxic for your pet. It will be essential to know the plants before you buy them: ask the gardener and do some research before bringing any new plant into your home.

Once you know that they may be poisonous, place them in a safe site, out of your pets' reach. Some of the symptoms that can alert you of a possible poisoning by consumption of plants includ:

  • Digestive disorders: Diarrhea, vomiting, or gastritis.
  • Neurological disorders: Convulsions, lack of coordination or excessive salivation.
  • Allergic dermatitis: Itchy skin, excessive scratching or hair loss.
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart disease.

Take a look at our first aid articles about poisoning in dogs, poisoning in cats and how to make your dog vomit.

Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? - Other toxic plants for dogs and cats

Articles related to Christmas

In addition to dealing with poisonous Christmas plants, we at AnimalWised want to help you prepare for such a special time and lower the risk as much as possible. Take a look at our Christmas-related articles:

  • Are Christmas ornaments dangerous for pets? Just as there are poisonous plants that we must take care with, there are dangerous ornaments that we should avoid. This way, you'll prevent possible accidents and have a worry-free holiday.
  • 10 unique Christmas gifts for your cat: If you love your pet and you are thinking about getting it an original gift, do not hesitate to visit this article to find 10 ideas that you're sure to love.

Finally, we would like to remind you that Christmas is a time of solidarity and love for animals, our best companions and most loyal friends. If you are thinking about getting a new pet, don't forget: Don't buy an animal; adopt it.

Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats? - Articles related to Christmas

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.

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Are Christmas Plants Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?