Experts warn dog owners to beware of this poisonous Christmas plant

Holly might be a festive favorite, but the poisonous Christmas plant can pose serious danger to dogs

puppy in sleigh outdoors
(Image credit: Getty / Marie Vanderweide-Murray)

Experts are warning dog owners to beware of decking their homes with boughs of holly this Christmas.

There are lots of potential dangers to dogs at Christmas from ingesting mince pies to chewing on tinsel, however, holly is one to look out for in the home and outside. Holly might be a festive favorite, however, it is one of the most poisonous plants for dogs during the holidays.

'Many owners won't know about the hidden dangers of traditional Christmas plants such as holly berries,' warns Sarah James, Vet Nurse at Bought By Many. 'The plant is extremely poisonous to dogs and can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.'

holly in a trug

(Image credit: Getty / Peter Dazeley)

Other symptoms can include excessive lip-smacking, head shaking, and loss of appetite or energy. Any of these could indicate that your dog has been poisoned. 

If you have recently welcomed a puppy into your home, Sarah warns that they could be more at risk of ingesting holly than older dogs. 

'Puppies are always on the go and that means they tend to get themselves into pickles very easily,' says Sarah. 'In fact, out of all the dog claims we handled between November 2020-2021, well over a quarter of them were for puppies under one year old.' 

'Puppy owners will know that they need to keep a close eye on their pups and the festive period can require some extra precautions.'

holly wreath

(Image credit: Getty / Tim Grist Photography)

Holly isn't the only Christmas plants that pose a threat to your four-legged friend. Poinsettia, amaryllis, lilies, mistletoe and Christmas roses are all toxic and should be kept well out of reach of any pets. 

However, if your pet does ingest some holly or another plant don't panic. Ingesting holly is rarely fatal, however, the nasty side effects mean it is important to visit an emergency vet immediately. 

Once at the vets there are things they can do to help remove the toxins. 'They will generally (circumstance dependent) advise you to induce vomiting in your dog to help flush the toxins out of their system and prevent further poisoning symptoms,' says Michael Thomas-Owen of Dog Furiendly.

If you have recently welcomed a pup into your home beware the holly if you were thinking about trying it in any DIY Christmas decoration ideas this festive season.

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

As the News Editor on Gardeningetc, Rebecca covers everything from the common mistake your making when pruning your roses, to handy tips about how to keep your houseplants alive. She has been covering all things gardening for two years across Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home. There isn't a single gardening trend that passes without her knowing about it. 


She's currently the proud owner of a thriving container garden on her small city balcony and a jungle of houseplants. Small gardens and container plants are her specialties.