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.
What’s the Problem With Poinsettias and Dogs?
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.
Symptoms of Poinsettia Toxicity
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
What To Do if Your Dog Ingests Poinsettia
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
How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Poinsettias?
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!
Pet Safe Alternatives to Poinsettias
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
Protect Your Dog During the Holiday Season
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.
Protect your Dog
Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
3 “Poinsettia,” Pet Poison Helpline
4 “Natural Saponins - Natural Surfactants,” Ecochem
5 “Poinsettia Panic: How Toxic Are Poinsettias to Dogs?,” Intermountain Pet Hospital