Common holiday plants which are toxic for dogs and cats

Decorating with mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias will give your home all of the Christmas vibes, but these plants and others can prove to be harmful to dogs and cats.

As much as we love to enjoy the season, we have to remember that some festive decorations pose a big threat to dogs and cats. If ingested, some of the most beautiful plants can be the most toxic.

We often think of cats as the more mischievous housepet. But, as omnivores, dogs have been known to chow down on grass, plant life, and other things that aren’t food.

Before you lose all hope in decorating for Christmas, consider choosing faux plants as substitutes for the real thing. Many craft stores carry life-like artificial versions that you can arrange and reuse for years to come.

5 Toxic Holiday Plants for Dogs and Cats

Pine Trees

If you opt for a live tree, choose a fir or spruce over pine. While they aren’t toxic to dogs, pine trees can be to cats. If ingested, cats can suffer from liver damage or even death.

Regardless of the toxicity, if swallowed, pine needles can cause damage to your pet’s internal organs. Additionally, cover the tree stand so your dog or cat cannot drink the water, which could contain harmful bacteria and other pathogens.


These beautiful plants have a bad reputation for being poisonous to dogs and cats, but they aren’t as toxic as you may believe.

The poinsettia’s leaves produce a sap that can irritate your pet’s mouth and throat, but pets would need to ingest a significant amount to cause a more serious reaction.

If your dog or cat does decide to chow down on these decorations, they may experience nausea and vomiting, which will usually deter them from chewing more.

Holly and Mistletoe

Christmas isn’t complete without holly and mistletoe… unless you have pets! If you are decking the halls with this classic Christmas greenery, strongly consider the artificial route.

Because of the leaves’ shape and toxins in the berries, holly and mistletoe can cause a lot of issues if consumed. Holly contains toxins like saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens, which can cause vomiting, drooling, smacking lips, and abdominal pain. Additionally, the spiny leaves will irritate their mouths and throat and could cause your dog or cat to thrash their heads around as they try to expel the irritant.

In the event they ingest a large amount, pets may experience a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, breathing problems, seizures, and even death.


While they aren’t toxic to dogs, lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families are very dangerous for cats. Symptoms of irritations may range from intestinal issues to arrhythmia and possibly lead to kidney failure.

For most plants, it’s either a leaf or bulb that’s toxic. However, the entire lily plant poses a threat, including the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in the vase.

There are lilies that are not considered dangerous because they are not “true” lilies. Those include the Peruvian lily, sand lily, corn lily, resurrection lily, and others species.

In the event a plant is mislabeled, it’s best to avoid this plant altogether to keep your pet safe!


As dangerous as it is beautiful, an amaryllis bulb contains toxins like Lycorine and phenanthridine alkaloids. If these toxins are ingested, they will likely experience drooling, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

Tremors, drops in blood pressure, or labored breathing are other frightening side effects if ingested.

While these plants create beautiful seasonal arrangements, it’s best to avoid bringing plants home that are dangerous to pets. Consider the artificial version instead!

If you must decorate with the organic versions, keep them out of reach from dogs and cats. If you suspect your dog or cat has snacked on any of these plants, give our office a call immediately.