Poinsettia Plant -
Poisonous to Pets?
Information compiled by Gail Ruhl, Senior Plant Disease Diagnostican,
During the month of December many pet owners question
whether their Poinsettia plant might be harmful to their pets,
In an article on “Holiday
Health Hazards” found on
a website provided by The College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington
State University, the following information is provided on Poinsettia,
as well as Mistletoe and Holly.
“Poinsettias fill homes with color during the
holidays. Poinsettias have received bad publicity in the past whereas
in fact, poinsettias are not very toxic to pets. They do contain
a milky sap that can irritate the mouth but if signs develop they
are usually mild.
"Mistletoe can be very toxic to animals and
you should seek veterinary consultation immediately if your pet
has potentially ingested any part of the plant. Mistletoe can cause
vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficult breathing, shock and death
within hours of ingestion.
"There are many species of Holly (genus
Ilex). Berries and leaves can be a problem
although signs of poisonings are generally mild, and include vomiting,
belly pain, and diarrhea.”
In addition to heightened awareness of pet safety
and potentially poisonous
live plant materials this holiday season, don't forget about the
threat of potpourri (dried, scented plant material as well as the
form). Keep potpourri away from pets. Plant materials used in dried
potpourri (flowers, tree bark and seeds) may be toxic to cats,
and other animals, if ingested.
Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Pets also provides
the following information on the toxicity level of Poinsettia:
Poinsettia pulcherrima (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
TOXICITY RATING: Low.
ANIMALS AFFECTED: All animals can be affected, but
pets are more likely to come into contact with Poinsettia than
DANGEROUS PARTS OF PLANT: Leaves and stems primarily,
but all parts may be toxic.
CLASS OF SIGNS: Skin, mouth, eye, and stomach irritation.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: People commonly display this
potted plant in houses and offices in the wintertime. These 1 to
4 feet tall plants with yellow stems bear alternate, coarsely toothed,
smooth, green leaves. The top leaves turn red. Although many people
mistake them for petals, they function as "bracts", calling attention
to the true flowers which are tiny, yellow, and clustered at the
top of the plant. The inconspicuous fruits are small, green, three-lobed,
SIGNS: The milky sap (a latex) is irritating to
skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. Once considered extremely poisonous,
toxicity is more likely to manifest as irritation, discomfort,
rash, and stomach upset. Nausea and vomiting may occur if sufficient
quantities are consumed. Typically, animals will show head-shaking,
salivation, and pawing or rubbing at the mouth or eyes.
FIRST AID: Wash sap off the animal to prevent further
ingestion. Call a veterinarian if the eyes are affected, or if
signs do not resolve in a few minutes.
PREVENTION: Poinsettia should not be allowed near
University Poisonous Plants Informational Database is another good source of information, including a searchable site
with frequently asked questions about poisonous plants.
Some other Purdue links:
Some Plants Are Poisonous
The information given herein
is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is
intended and no endorsement by the Purdue University Cooperative
Extension Service is implied. Any person using products listed
assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with
current direction of the manufacturer. Purdue University is an
equal opportunity/equal access institution.
Information listed is valid
only for the state of Indiana