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This time of year we hear a lot of discussions from our clients about all the seasonal products that are brought into the house–products that are foreign to households during every other season. Chocolate, mistletoe, tinsel, Christmas trees and candy canes all become the norm in most households during the holidays. These new shiny objects seem playful to cats and dogs that watch their house transform into an environment filled with new strange items. However, while all of the items mentioned above can be threatening to your dogs and cats, there’s one that has had a bad reputation for decades: the poinsettia.

My Dog Ate a Poinsettia. What do I do? Do I need to go the Vet?

The bright greens and reds of poinsettias make them a perfect houseplant to add festivity to homes during the holidays. Sales of poinsettias across the country sky rocket (you’ve probably seen loads of them for sale at your favorite grocery store over the last few weeks). These plants have long been thought to be one of the worst possible items to find your pet eating. But, while they are a stomach irritant to dogs and cats, they aren’t any more harmful than most houseplants. We would never encourage you to allow your pets to eat the poinsettias, but if you should come home to find a few leaves or berries missing from your poinsettia centerpiece, it is likely not a reason to panic. You may find your dog pretty miserable from an upset stomach (and possibly drooling from some of the sap in the plants), but it’s pretty much the effect they’d be suffering from with the digestion of any other houseplant.

Who knows why the scare tactics around the poinsettia started. The myth dates somewhere back to the early- and mid-1900s when stories of children ingesting leaves and falling deathly ill were being spread. Then, somehow, pet owners began to show worry toward the possibility of their pets becoming poisoned with something the owners themselves invited into the home.

Regardless of how it started, the poisonous power of poinsettias is largely a myth. Yes your dog or cat is likely to feel stomach pains if they eat portions of the plants, but they will most likely shake it off and be just fine.

There are a number of holiday-specific items being brought into our homes this time of year, and it takes care and caution to keep our pets out of these fun, brightly colored new playthings. Do be careful with items such as tinsel (which is shiny enough to attract any cat and can get caught in their intestines if digested), Christmas tree water (which likely has fertilizers in the water), and bows and ribbons that can be choking hazards to children and our furry friends.

Be safe, and happy holidays!