are poinsettia plants poisonous to dogs and cats

During the holidays, poinsettias are a popular Christmas plant. Despite their unfavorable reputation, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only slightly harmful to dogs and cats. Poinsettia milky white sap contains substances known as saponin-like detergents and diterpenoid euphorbol esters. Although they are frequently “hyped” as poisonous plants, poinsettias are rarely poisonous and the extent of the poisoning is greatly exaggerated. When consumed, there may be slight symptoms like drooling, vomiting, or infrequently, diarrhea. When the milky sap comes into contact with skin, it can cause dermal irritation, which can cause redness, swelling, and itching. Rarely, eye exposure can result in mild irritation. In most cases, symptoms go away on their own and don’t need to be treated unless they are severe or persistent. There is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning. However, because poinsettias have a low level of toxicity, medical attention is rarely required unless there are severe clinical symptoms.

Crown of the Andes, Easter flower, lobster flower, flame leaf flower, flower of the Holy Night, flower of Christmas Eve, and euphorbia

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The College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, provides the following information for Poinsettia, as well as Mistletoe and Holly. “Holiday Health Hazards” (https://hospital.vetmed.wsu.edu/2021/11/23/holiday-health-hazards-for-pets/)

The Colorado State Extension site has an extensive review of poinsettia history and cultural requirements at: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/poinsettias-7-412/

“If your pet has possibly consumed any part of the mistletoe plant, you should seek veterinary consultation right away as the plant can be highly toxic to animals.” Within hours of consumption, mistletoe can result in vomiting, severe diarrhea, dyspnea, shock, and even death.

“Despite the widespread belief that poinsettia plants are toxic to animals, household pets are not harmed by them unless they consume a significant amount of their leaves and bracts.” When cats chew on leaves, some of them may salivate and throw up if they swallow any of the leaves. It’s a good idea to keep newly brought plants out of reach because cats and puppies love to chew on them.”