Don’t make it mistletoe misery for your pet at Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, homes up and down the country are blooming with festive flora.

Sunday, 20th December 2015, 8:00 am
Common festive plants can at best make your pet unwell and at worse could lead to death.
Common festive plants can at best make your pet unwell and at worse could lead to death.

However, while merry mistletoe, a twinkling pine and ruby red poinsettia bring the festive feeling indoors, they’re among several seasonal plants and trees that can be poisonous to cats and dogs.

According to new findings, over three quarters (78%) of British homes contain plants that are toxic to cats and dogs so it’s no surprise that almost 10% of cats and dogs have fallen ill after ingesting the dangerous plant life.

Of those pets, 43% needed urgent veterinary care, while 15% sadly passed away.

Cats are as prone to the ill-effects of festive plants as dogs. (Picture by Charles Kim/Flickr.)

Popular Christmas plants on the dangerous-to-pets list include:

Poinsettia: mildly toxic to cats and dogs; can cause vomiting or poorly tummy.

Amaryllis: mild to moderate toxicity; can cause vomiting, poorly tummy, hypotension.

Hyacinth: mildly toxic to cats and dogs; can cause vomiting or poorly tummy.

Many festive plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. (Picture by Alan Levine/Flickr.)

Mistletoe: mild to moderate toxicity; in small doses can result in mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation (eg drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain). When ingested in large amounts, abnormal heart rate, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (walking drunk), seizures and death have also been reported.

Holly: mild to moderate toxicity; can cause drooling, vomiting and gastrointestinal upset.

Christmas Tree: mildly toxic; the fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting.

One in every three pet owners (31%) admit they have no idea if the plants and flowers they own are toxic to animals and the same number are unaware that plants can even be poisonous to pets, while 71% of all pet owners cannot identify any of the symptoms of poisoning in their cat or dog.

The findings from a survey carried out by MORE TH>N and form part of its ongoing Pet Safe campaign, designed to raise awareness of the issue of cats and dogs being poisoned by plants and flowers.

As part of the campaign MORE TH>N is calling on plant producers, manufacturers of plant products and retailers to provide clearer labelling to help pet owners easily identify if items are safe or harmful to cats and dog.

John Ellenger, head of pet insurance at MORE TH>N, said: “Through this campaign we’ve been arming pet owners with the practical advice and information they need to identify safe and dangerous plants, to recognise the symptoms of poisoning – and what to do in that eventuality – and above all to reduce the likelihood of their beloved pets becoming ill in the first place.

“Christmas is a time of year where people’s houses will be full of seasonal plants that could be poisonous to animals – including the Christmas tree itself. However, it’s not just the flora that poses a risk. Mince pies, raisin-laden Christmas puddings and chocolate are all potentially life-threatening to dogs so it’s incredibly important that as households gear up for the festive season, they remember to take measures to keep their beloved pets safe.”