You can keep your pets out safe and have your home decorated with gorgeous holiday plants—just make sure you know which seasonal flowers and greens to watch out for.

November 25, 2019

Some of the season's prettiest plant and flower varieties can cause stomach upset in a furry friend who tries to make a meal of them, while others are flat-out poisonous. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias fall into the former category. According to Joseph Bartges, a professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, eating the leaves may lead to nothing worse than a bout of vomiting. Nonetheless, if your pet is a curious chewer, keep arrangements well out of reach, or deck the halls with nontoxic flora like bromeliads, roses, or peperomias instead. For a full list of safe and unsafe types, visit Here are the ones to really avoid.

Colorful holiday plants
Credit: Thomas Loof

If you suspect your animal has ingested any of the below, contact your vet or call the ASPCA's poison-control hotline at 888-426-4435.


Whether you have this plant in your home for Easter or Christmas, amaryllis contains toxins such as lycorine that cause vomiting, depression, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and anorexia. Also going by names like Belladonna, Saint Joseph Lily, Cape Belladonna, and Naked Lady, while the leaves and stems of amaryllis contain lycorine, the highest concentration can be found in the bulb. In addition to diarrhea and decreased appetite, this plant can induce tremors.


While this popular holiday plant is a go-to for festive décor, assure that your decorations are out of reach of pets or simply refrain from using as a decoration at all. According to the ASPCA, "mechanical injury to the oral mucosa can occur from the leaves and foreign body obstruction may occur if a very large amount of the leaves are ingested." The spiny leaves and chemicals called saponins in the berries can trigger severe abdominal issues. Some common signs of poisoning from holly ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lip-smacking and head-shaking.


A flower that's a beloved gift or decoration throughout the year, many species of this flower can cause seizures and even kidney failure in cats. Some can upset dogs' tummies as well. There are lilies that are less toxic to both cats and dogs but still pose some dangers if chewed or ingested such as calla lilies, peace lilies, and Peruvian lilies.


Along with poinsettias, mistletoe is another plant truly symbolic of the arrival of the holiday season but for all of the wintertime romance they bring to your Christmastime decor, it can cause gastrointestinal issues or, in rare cases, cardiovascular problems. Its proteins—lectins and phoratoxins—can spark a blood-pressure drop, breathing problems, and changes in behavior. The ASPCA recommends choosing "just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet," or other non-toxic, yet popular decorations such as "wood, fabric, or even pinecones."


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