Christmas time is almost upon us again. Many of us like to decorate our homes for the Christmas season with traditional plants and flowers. The poinsettia is always a big favorite; it’s bright red leaves just scream Christmas. We hang mistletoe so we can kiss our beloved. We like to decorate window sills and banisters with holly and ivy. And last, but certainly not least, many of us like to put a large real Christmas tree in the middle of our living rooms.
There is some controversy, mostly from those who sell flowers, whether or not poinsettia’s are poisonous. Actually, the flower itself is not poisonous but the sap that comes out of the leaves can cause skin and mouth irritation, and vomiting. If a pet or child ingests any of the plant, it can be treated by washing with soap and water.
The berries of the mistletoe plant are extremely poisonous. It is recommended that you remove the berries if you plan to have the plant around your house. The berries can cause excessive salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, heavy breathing and a fast heart rate.
Like mistletoe, the berries on the holly plant are poisonous. They are not as poisonous as mistletoe berries and many birds do live on them but they can cause gastric intestinal distress, vomiting and diarrhea in small children and pets. If you think a pet or child has ingested the berries, contact your doctor or vet immediately.
If you bring a real Christmas tree into your home you must be aware of the dangers, to pets especially. It is inevitable that the needles will fall off a pine tree. If your pet ingests the pine needles there is a danger of their internal organs being pierced by the needles. It’s probably safest to buy an artificial tree. They don’t drop needles, they don’t dry out, and they are not a fire hazard.
Don’t be afraid of decorating your homes with Christmas plants and flowers. Just taking a few precautions can ensure that you and your family and your pets will have a wonderful holiday season.