In short, poinsettias are not poisonous to dogs, but can make them sick. If you’re considering decorating your home over the holiday season, but want to know what the deal is with poinsettias and dogs, look no further! The good news for pet owners is that while poinsettias are not poisonous, they are an irritant for dogs.3
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are a traditional holiday plant native to Central America that people love to use for decoration. However, these festive red flowers can irritate your beloved dog and could make them sick. So it’s good to keep them away from pets.
While poinsettia plants are not highly toxic to dogs or outright poisonous, they can cause some concern. They can cause skin irritation and cause a rash to the mouth, eyes, and skin. They can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, and indigestion when consumed.3
The poinsettia plant contains a milky white sap that’s packed with irritants for dogs and humans alike. The sap is found in both the leaves and branches of the plant.3 It consists of two problematic chemicals:
- Diterpenoid euphorbol esters: This is a caustic compound.
- Saponin-like detergents: A foaming and emulsifying compound that will affect dogs if they have a sensitivity to detergent or soapy substances.4
If your dog gets the sticky sap on their face, it may cause irritation or a rash. If they consume it, it will likely cause digestion issues. While it’s not poisonous, no one wants their dog to feel sick to their stomach.
Poinsettias traditionally come in a small plastic pot with festive foil around it. If your dog ingests any of the packaging, they could choke on it. If your dog bites and breaks the pot itself, the small broken pieces of plastic are hard to digest, and may create tears in your dog’s gastrointestinal system.
While poinsettia toxicity shouldn’t have lasting effects on your dog, poinsettia ingestion can make them feel sick. Here are a few clinical signs to watch out for if your dog ingests your poinsettia plants during the holiday season.3
- Skin or eye irritation
- Red and watery eyes
- Pawing at or licking face
If you suspect your dog has ingested poinsettia or pieces of the poinsettia pot, you should call a vet or the ASPCA Pet Poison Helpline to discuss their symptoms, just to be on the safe side.
Unless your dog is showing concerning symptoms or ingested a large amount of the poinsettia plant, the veterinarian will likely just have you observe and treat your pet at home. There are a few things you can do to encourage recovery while you monitor their behavior.
- If any sap gets on your dog’s face or in their eyes, wash the affected area thoroughly to prevent any further irritation.
- Your dog will likely vomit frequently if any of the plant has been eaten, so be prepared to clean and comfort them.
- Provide lots of fresh water to keep your dog hydrated.
If your dog does not throw up any of the eaten poinsettia plants, your vet may suggest you induce vomiting to help clear your pet’s gastrointestinal system. Please only do this under a veterinarian’s direction.5
On the rare chance your vet asks you to bring your dog in for testing or monitoring, don’t panic. They’ll probably do bloodwork and a urinalysis to get a better picture of your furry friend’s health. If needed, they’ll administer fluids and activated charcoal to hydrate and detox your dog’s system.5
While we strongly recommend you consider decorating with safer plants, you can still have festive poinsettias as holiday decor if you absolutely adore them. Here are a few tips for keeping them away from your pooch:
- Keep poinsettias or other toxic plants on the mantle or high on a shelf where your dog can’t reach them.
- Buy plant hangers and hang your poinsettias away from your dog’s reach.
- Keep your poinsettias in a room that’s off-limits and gated off from your dog.
- Consider buying artificial poinsettias. These silk decorations can still add some festivity to your home, while keeping your dog safe. Plus, you can reuse them each and every year!
There are a handful of festive plants you could use instead of poinsettias when decorating your home. These are all options safe for pets that come in holiday colors like red, white, and green.
- Christmas cacti
- Pine wreaths and garlands
- Red or white orchids
- Pink polka dot plants
Protecting your dog goes beyond caring for them if they eat a poinsettia leaf or bloom. Keep holiday decorations and toxic plants out of reach from your pup. Especially watch out for any type of lilies, amaryllises, mistletoe, and holly. Emergencies can happen, so consider investing in a dog insurance policy.
MetLife Dog insurance can help cover treatment for any plants your dog may accidentally eat over the holidays.1,2 Start your holiday season right and get a quote today! It may be the best Christmas gift you give your pup.