Poinsettia: Not as Toxic to Your Pet as You Think

The myth about poinsettias


poinsettia toxicity

I'm a killer, don't leave me alone with sharp objects.

It is a pretty commonly held belief that the poinsettia plant is extremely toxic to your pets.

These lovely little plants are popular as gifts and for decorating your home over the holidays.  Sadly, many a lonely flower has been tossed to the curb to endure a cold winter alone because people think that it will kill their beloved pet.

This is not so!

In the early 1900s, it was reported that a young child ingested the leaf of the plant and died.  It was soon discovered that the cause of death was completely unrelated to the plant. Despite this, the rumor of the deadly toxicity of the plant remains.  No deaths have actually been reported after ingestion parts of a poinsettia plant!

While they can cause some tummy irritation in your animal such as vomiting and diarrhea, it is not going to be life-threatening.  In fact, irritation to the mouth and GI tract are the only reported signs associated with the ingestion of a poinsettia plant.

It’s still always a good idea to contact a veterinary professional if your animal has ingested anything.  If your pet did not eat very much, your vet may have you manage this at home. However, large amounts of plant material are not so easily digested by your average pet. Eating a lot of any part of any plant could lead to a blockage or obstruction.

Obstructions are a life-threatening condition where indigestible objects get stuck in the tummy or intestines.  This completely or partially prevents other food and waste product from passing.  Enough pressure from a blockage can cut off blood flow to the intestines and potentially lead to intestinal death.

Signs of a blockage tend to develop within 2-3 days, and include repeated vomiting, lethargy, straining to poop or an inability to poop, pacing and restlessness, stomach pain, and a lack of desire to eat or drink.  Hospitalization and surgery are required for treatment, so the sooner you seek care after seeing similar signs, the better the chances you pet has to survive.

Go right ahead and dress up your home with botanic cheer this year, but do so safely.  Keep any decoration out of reach of your pets, and keep in close contact with your vet if you see them swallow something down.


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