By Tammy Thomas
Lots of people know that some holiday plants are poisonous to pets. Mistletoe and Holly are some of the best known but did you ever think about your Christmas tree? Most pet owners worry about them tipping it over but don’t think about if their pet eats it.
Christmas is a time for many new things to be added to your home. Families want their home to be festive and colorful. This means bringing in beautiful plants and live trees. Most cats can’t resist chewing on the holiday plants and tree. Many of these plants are poisonous to your cat. There are different levels of toxicity from mild to extreme. The amount of plant ingested is related to the level of poisoning. Kittens are the most curious about the new green plants. The dose is size dependent, so kittens have a greater risk of plant poisoning.
Christmas trees are considered mildly toxic. The oils of the fir tree can irritate the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting.
Christmas tree needles are not easily digested. This could possibly cause GI irritation, vomiting, gastrointestinal obstruction or puncture.
Artificial trees can also be dangerous if eaten. The main worry is the toxin released from the artificial material and possible intestinal obstruction. The needles cannot be digested by your cat.
As noted earlier, the amount consumed will determine the amount of worry needed. Most times, cats don’t consume very much tree substance.
An additional safety note would be to consider the tree water. Pesticides, fertilizers and other preservative agents are commonly used to keep the tree fresh. These can be harmful or deadly to any cats that may drink it. Try to use a covered tree water dish to be safe.
Bright holiday plants make great decorations and gifts this time of year. They may also pose threats to your pet from mild to severe toxicity potential.
Poinsettia plants have often be labeled as highly toxic. This is actually just an urban legend. Poinsettia plant sap is considered mildly toxic or irritating. It may cause vomiting or nausea but does not typically cause death.
Mistletoe and Holly are both considered to be moderate to severely toxic. The berries, as well as the leaves, pose a problem. If ingested, contact your veterinarian or poison control center for advice immediately.
Lilies and Daffodils are considered very toxic to your cat. This would also include the Amaryllis and Narcissus plants. Your cat rubbing against the lily plant can be just as severe as them eating it. When your cat grooms themselves to clean up, they are ingesting the pollen from the plant. Any bulb kit featuring one of the plants in the lily or daffodil family could pose a threat to your pet. Try to keep any of these plants away from your cat. Severe symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmias, kidney failure, gastrointestinal signs, convulsions and even death can occur.
What to Look For
If you think your cat may have eaten some of your plants or Christmas tree, watch for any changes in their behavior. Most common signs related to toxic plant ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes excessive drooling. Tremors or seizures may be seen in some cases when Holly berries have been ingested. Coma and death are common in these cases.
Having a cat is such a joy. Keeping my cats safe each year is very important to me. I want to cherish every holiday with them that I can. Watching how I decorate is just as important to have a wonderful holiday as spending time with loved ones. Keep your holidays safe and happy by thinking of your pets when decorating.
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