Poisonous Holiday Plants to Cats and Dogs

By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 21, 2022

Poisonous Holiday Plants to Cats and Dogs

There are a lot of half-truths and outright wrong information out there when it comes to what plants are safe for your pets to be exposed to. When you’re trying to decide what plants to have in your home, or where it’s OK to take your pets safely, you can experience a lot of worry and uncertainty. Here we go over a list of poisonous holiday plants to cats and dogs.




Most Dangerous: Holly and Mistletoe


Holly, mistletoe and their berries can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, drooling and vomiting when eaten by your pet.

Mistletoe ingestion can also kick off breathing difficulties, altered mental function, hallucinations, as well as an extreme lowering of heart rate and blood pressure. A pet who eats enough of this plant could have seizures and even die. Seek veterinarian help at once.


Less Dangerous: Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Christmas Trees




The poinsettia’s sap can irritate your pet’s mouth and throat, and eating the leaves can lead to nausea and vomiting. However, that’s about as bad as it gets for dogs and cats.

This all changes if your poinsettias have pesticides on them, though. But in this case, the pesticide is the problem, not the poinsettia.


Christmas Cactus


No danger of fatalities here. But your pet’s stomach and intestines can be irritated by fibrous matter from the cactus. Diarrhea or vomiting can be the result.


Christmas Trees


The oil from the fir tree is irritating for a pet’s stomach and mouth. Drooling and vomiting would not be unusual. Needles from coniferous trees can cause GI obstruction or irritation, or even puncture.

If you have a natural tree sitting in a pot of water, keep your pet from drinking the water. It can be sickened by bacteria, fertilizer and mold.




Most Dangerous: Certain Lilies, Daffodils, Amaryllis




Lilies come in dangerous and less dangerous varieties. Cats and dogs will have different reactions to different plants. Cats are at higher risk for serious illness than dogs are, when it comes to eating lilies.

Dangerous lilies are of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species. These include Asiatic hybrids, day lilies, Easter lilies, Japanese Show lilies, red, rubrum, stargazer and tiger lilies, Western and wood lilies. As little as a bit of pollen or water from the flower’s vase can cause acute kidney failure in a cat. So can eating a couple of leaves or petals.

Don’t waste a moment if you see your cat eating a lily. The cat and the plant in question need to go to the vet for immediate attention.

If your cat has been poisoned, some signs can emerge within six to 12 hours. Dehydration, lack of appetite, lethargy and vomiting are early signs.

If the cat doesn’t receive treatment, acute kidney failure can occur. Look for signs such as extremes of behavior, for instance, urinating unusually often or not at all, drinking a lot or not at all. Your cat may walk in a disoriented way, and may experience seizures or tremors.

There is, unfortunately, no antidote for this type of poisoning. Induced vomiting and ingesting activated charcoal can make a difference in the early stages of toxicity. Activated charcoal will bind poison in your cat’s stomach and intestines. IV fluid therapy and monitoring of kidney function should begin within 18 hours of poisoning.

Dogs can have gastrointestinal trouble after eating these types of lilies, but they won’t experience kidney failure.




Daffodils, especially their bulbs, are dangerous for pets when eaten. Possible symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, drooling, rapid/irregular heartbeat, vomiting and respiratory problems. If you see any of these signs, get to your veterinarian right away.


Amaryllis Plants


Eating amaryllis plants can be toxic to dogs or cats. Abdominal pain, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, tremors and loss of appetite can occur in a dog or cat that has eaten amaryllis flowers, stalks or bulbs


Less Dangerous: Safer Lilies, Easter Cactus


Safer Lilies


Some other lilies are less dangerous, but they can still cause problems for cats. Calla lilies, Peace lilies and Peruvian lilies can irritate a cat’s esophagus, mouth, pharynx and tongue tissues. Your cat may start drooling, vomiting or foaming at the mouth. It may paw its mouth.


Easter Cactus


This type of cactus can cause irritation from its fibrous material to your pet’s stomach and intestines when eaten. This can lead to an unpleasant, but not life-threatening, case of diarrhea or vomiting.


For a brief overview about poisonous Christmas holiday plants for pets take a look at the clip below!


For a brief overview about poisonous Easter holiday plants for pets take a look at the clip below!

Poisonous Holiday Plants to Cats and Dogs
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Poisonous Holiday Plants to Cats and Dogs
When you're trying to decide what plants to have in your home, or where it's OK to take your pets safely, you can experience a lot of worry and uncertainty. Here we go over a list of poisonous holiday to cats and dogs.
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Healthcare for Pets
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