From Mistletoe to Holly, These 10 Christmas Plants Could Be Toxic to Your Pet Dog

With the holidays in full swing, it's likely your home is bursting with new plants as you set up the Christmas tree and decorations.

But pretty as they may look, some could prove toxic to our pets, with dogs potentially at risk from festive foliage.

Pet insurance experts, from website Money.co.uk, have shared a list of the top 10 plants to be aware of this season.

1. Christmas tree

First on the list is a sight in many homes, which is the traditional tree. Usually a type of pine—if buying a real one—these may look and smell great, but the oil could harm your dog.

"The oils released may cause irritations in the mouth as well as stomach upset. Due to the prickly nature of the needle, these could also be hazardous to the mouth, throat and stomach if ingested," they said.

Website Pet Poison Helpline went into more detail, although it claimed the exact toxin that affects dogs has yet to be identified the fruits and leaves still cause "severe vomiting and diarrhoea when consumed."

2. Holly

Next on the list is holly, a common sight over winter, but its spikes can cause "irritation of the mouth, drooling, gastrointestinal upset (such as vomiting), and diarrhoea" if eaten.

While the website noted dogs can exhibit "excessive head-shaking" if they ingest a large amount of the leaf.

Pet Poison Helpline explained these toxins are called saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens, and can be found in the English, Japanese and Chinese varieties of holly.

3. Mistletoe

The next plant to watch out for mistletoe, which typically denotes love, kisses and affection. But it's a different story for our four-legged friends, both cats and dogs.

"The berries from mistletoe contain chemicals including polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins which are harmful to both dogs and cats. When ingested in small quantities, it can cause gastrointestinal irritation such as vomiting and abdominal pain," the pet insurance team said.

If eaten in large quantities, this plant can cause "heart rate, low blood pressure and incoordination."

And there are a few varieties, as Pet Poison Website states: "There are several types of mistletoe which can be poisonous to pets: Phoradendron serotinum (American variety) and Viscum album (European variety). Berries from this holiday plant contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins."

4. Poinsettia plants

These are common gifts over Christmas, due to their luscious leaves and bright red petals.

But the sap it exudes contains a chemical which can cause "nausea, vomiting, drooling and diarrhoea, but also irritation in the skin, mouth and oesophagus."

Pet Poison Helpline assured owners animals rarely require vet treatment.

It said: "Signs are generally self-limiting and typically don't require medical treatment unless severe and persistent.

"There is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning. That said, due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion, medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe."

5. Ivy

This plant can often make its way indoors over the festivities, used as decoration or in centerpieces.

Pet owners should be wary, as the leaves can cause "severe skin irritation," while if eaten, it can also aggravate the stomach.

There are numerous type of ivy, including English, poison, branching, devil's, with each variety potentially posing a risk to pets, according to Pet Poison Helpline.

6. Amaryllis

These plants also make popular presents, however they're also sold ready to go into the ground.

So make a note of what you're burying if you have pets, particularly those who "like to dig," the experts warned.

Unfortunately no part of the plant is safe around pets, as it all contains "toxic substances," Money.co.uk stated.

"The plant contains similar toxins to the flowers in the Narcissus group or the Belladonna Amaryllis (the only true Amaryllis)," Pet Poison Helpline noted.

A higher concentration is found in the bulb, another reason to skip planting it if you have an inquisitive pet.

"If consumed, they may experience severe gastrointestinal upsets (such as vomiting and abdominal pain), loss of appetite, lethargy and tremors," the pet insurance experts said.

7. Lily

This beautiful flower is a danger to both cats and dogs, with the entirety of the plant presenting a hazard.

The website warned: "If any part of a lily is ingested (even in small quantities) this could cause severe gastrointestinal damage, which may lead to kidney failure for cats."

The U.S. Food and Drink Administration (FDA) shared more information, saying: "Both lily-of-the-valley and the gloriosa or flame lily are very dangerous to cats and dogs."

It warned even the water in the vase is dangerous to animals, but cats are more susceptible to its toxins.

8. Laurel

The laurel plant is used in cooking, commonly known as a bay leaf, so make sure not to feed your pets any dish flavored with the herb.

Other laurel plants, including cherry laurel, contain toxins in all parts of the shrub.

While fine for humans, the toxic element—eugenol and other oils—is harmful to cats, dogs and horses.

Money.co.uk warned it can cause "vomiting, abdominal pain, hypotension and in extreme cases, muscle weakness and even seizures."

9. Snowdrop

This delicate white flower, often associated with Christmas time, doesn't usually bloom until spring. But it's worth being on the lookout for the flowers on wintery walks, in case there are any early blossoms.

Just like other similar plants, the highest concentration of toxins is in the bulbs, although the stem and leaves also contain phenanthridine alkaloids, Pet Poison Helpline outlined.

"When ingested, they can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, incoordination as well as a drop in heart rate and blood pressure," Money.co.uk said.

10. Yew

This shrub often makes its way inside over the festive period, and is often used in wreaths.

Despite its popularity, owing to its evergreen foliage and red berries, it's poisonous to humans, as well as cats and dogs.

When ingested, the plant can "cause abdominal pain, vomiting, incoordination as well as a drop in heart rate and blood pressure," according to Money.co.uk.

Salman Haqqi, pet insurance expert from Money.co.uk, commented: "While decorative plants can add a bit of a life to your interior during winter, it's important to remember that these could present problems if consumed by your furry family members.

"Taking the necessary steps, such as placing plants out of reach or adding barriers will help to ensure that pets do not ingest or come into contact with them. If your four-legged friend does consume a toxic house plant, it's important to seek expert help and advice from your vet as soon as possible."

File photo of dog and Christmas tree.
File photo of dog and a Christmas tree. Ten toxic plants that can be toxic to dogs have been revealed in the run-up to Christmas. Iuliia Zavalishina/Getty Images