Animal PoisonLine’s Christmas Guide – How to keep your pets safe this Christmas

Part 1

Top 7 most common Christmas plants that are poisonous to your pets

Christmas Tree APL

1.       Poinsettia


Poinsettia has a reputation as a toxic plant, but in fact it is less toxic than most other Euphorbia species.  Many animals will remain well after eating poinsettia, however, it can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach with drooling, vomiting and loss of appetite.  Animals may also be depressed or lethargic.  However, very occasionally, animals may develop a high temperature, have more severe stomach irritation with bloody vomiting or stools or be drowsy. 


2.       Mistletoe

Mistletoe APL

Although mistletoe does contain toxic compounds, it is generally considered to be of low toxicity.  The toxic compounds are found mainly in the leaves and stems but are not present in the berries.  Most animals remain well after eating mistletoe, but can develop drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort within a few hours. 


3.       Christmas Trees

Christmas tree Cat APL

Christmas trees may be one of a variety of tree species, mainly spruce, fir and pines.  These trees are considered to be of low toxicity.  Eating them can cause mild stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhoea, and they could possibly cause mechanical obstruction or injury in the gut if needles are sharp. 


4.       Holly

Holly APL

Potentially all parts of the plant are toxic, but generally serious cases of poisoning are rare.  Eating holly can cause drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, lip smacking, head shaking and lethargy in dogs and cats.  The spiky leaves could also be a potential choking hazard and any animal with difficulty swallowing or coughing or choking should be seen at the vets.


5.       Lilies

Lilies APL

Many households will have lilies at Christmas, and all parts of this plant, even the pollen, are extremely toxic to cats and cause acute kidney injury and possibly kidney failure. Any contact at all should be treated as an emergency.  Lilies are not hazardous to dogs and may cause only mild gastrointestinal upset if ingested.


6.       Ivy


Ivy is often used as a Christmas decoration. It is general of low toxicity but can sometimes cause a gastrointestinal upset with vomiting and diarrhoea. It may also cause irritant or allergic reactions with facial swelling and skin redness.


7.       Christmas cherry

 By Paul venter - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Paul venter - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Christmas Cherry (which is also known as Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry) is commonly available at Christmas and grown for its bright orange berries. It is of low toxicity but may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset if eaten. Most pets can be looked after at home after ingestion of this plant.


If you are concerned that your dog or any other pet may have eaten anything potentially poisonous and would like to know if it needs to be seen immediately by a vet, call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000. One of our veterinary poisons specialists will be able to tell you if a trip to the vet is required. We are always here 24 hours a day to help you and your pets.


Zoe Tizzard

Animal PoisonLine