Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs? Pet experts reveal what you need to know

They are everyone's favorite Christmas plant, but are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs? Find out and keep your furry friends safe this winter

A cat with a poisettia
(Image credit: Anna_Hirna / Getty)

'Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs?' is a question many a pet owner has pondered before displaying these brightly colored plants in their home. Poinsettias are a popular choice for the festive season thanks to their characteristic bright red bracts. 

But is this Christmas plant safe for your pets? If you've never had one in your home before and you have an inquisitive pet, you will want to make sure that if they do decide to have a nibble they won't get sick. 

We've consulted several veterinarians about poinsettia safety around pets. Here's what they told us.   

ponsettia plant in a pot for Christmas

(Image credit: Future)

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs?

The good news is that poinsettias are not life-threatening for your pets even if they do end up eating some. Dr. Amanda Takiguchi, a veterinarian and founder of Trending Breeds (opens in new tab), tells us that poinsettias are 'only mildly toxic to cats and dogs.' 

The most trouble poinsettias will cause your pet is vomiting and drooling. In rare cases, ingesting a large amount may cause lethargy and diarrhea. Dr. Amanda Takihuchi also points out that if your cat or dog gets poinsettia sap in their eye, they may experience 'some irritation.'

Dr. Takiguchi reassures pet owners that 'the relatively low toxicity means that medical treatment is rarely necessary unless the vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, or anorexia (inability to eat) are severe or long-lasting.'

A dog on a cream rug with poinsettia

(Image credit: Adriana Duduleanu / EyeEm / Getty)

Can you have poinsettias around pets?

Yes, but our experts recommend placing your poinsettia a bit higher up so it's out of reach. Melissa Brock, a practicing board-certified house on-call veterinarian from Madison and an author at Pango Pets (opens in new tab), recommends keeping your pets 'away from the leaves and berries so that they don't accidentally ingest them by mistake. They're very pretty, so it's easy to forget that they're there and let them slip out of sight. And while they won't hurt your pets, they might make them sick if they try to eat them.'

Although you don't need to be quite as careful with poinsettias as you would with plants that are poisonous to cats or the most poisonous plants for dogs, the easiest thing to do is place your poinsettia on a shelf or on top of a bookcase so that it's harder for your pet to reach. Cats may still jump up to have a nibble, but unless your feline is very young they'll most likely soon lose interest. 

A dog sleeping next to a poinsettia

(Image credit: Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty)

What should I do if my dog or cat eats a poinsettia?

Typically nothing, unless symptoms last longer than 24 hours. Paola Cuevas, a Veterinarian, MVZ, and Behaviorist with petkeen.com (opens in new tab), recommends keeping calm and 'a close eye on him or her. The swelling, irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms will pass. Make sure that the pet is well hydrated.'

If symptoms do persist for more than 24 hours, then 'making a visit to the veterinarian is recommended,' says Paola. 

As with most other indoor plants, it's best to keep them well out of reach of your pets, especially if you're away during the day. However, you don't need to worry too much about poinsettias around your pets as they are generally safe, so it should be fine to include them in your Christmas wreath ideas and your DIY Christmas decorations

If you're still not convinced, you can buy artificial poinsettias on Amazon (opens in new tab). They look realistic and won't be of interest to your pet unless they're already prone to nibbling on new things. 

Anna writes about real estate, interior design, and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications in the US and the UK. Before embarking on her writing career, Anna taught English at university level and is the author of a book called London Writing of the 1930s. She currently splits her time between London and the Midwest US. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.