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Golden Retriever chewing on a toy at Christmas.

As you prepare to deck the halls and trim the trees this winter holiday season, it’s important to remember to take a responsible dog-owner approach to your seasonal decorating.

Pet owners must be aware of hazards posed to their dogs not just during the puppy years but throughout their lives. From ingestion dangers to electric shock, many customary holiday decorations can be hazardous to dogs and cats. “Holiday plants are beautiful and make the home smell great but beware of their potential risk to pets,” says American Kennel Club Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Dogs?

Poinsettias are mildly toxic plants and should certainly be used with caution, but the dangers from poinsettias are hardly ever serious or fatal. The milky white sap found in poinsettia stems contains chemicals similar to those in household detergents. When large quantities are ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or sometimes diarrhea may be seen. Skin irritation can also occur when in contact with the milky white poinsettia sap.

Due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion, you are safe to use them in your house with caution. All reasonable precautions should be taken, such as keeping plants and decorations out of your dog’s reach and never leaving your dog unattended when decorations, plants, and potentially hazardous foods are present. While medical treatment is rarely necessary when a dog ingests poinsettia, you should contact your veterinarian if clinical signs appear in your dog.

Which Common Holiday Plants Are Poisonous to Dogs?

Other common holiday plants can also pose a risk to your dog. “Amaryllis, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and, in some cases, even poisonous to pets who eat them,” says Dr. Klein. Additional common seasonal plants dangerous to dogs include peace lily, calla lily, lily of the valley, autumn crocus, giant dracaena, and palm lily. “It’s important to note that all parts of most types of lilies are very toxic to cats. Homes with cats should never have lilies in them,” says Dr. Klein. “Often, they are missed in floral arrangements or beds.”

If you suspect your dog has eaten something toxic, contact your local veterinarian, AKC Vetline, or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) for advice.
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