‘Ask Evan’: Do holiday plants actually harm pets?

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Tonight's question comes from Taylor F.  Taylor asks, Is poinsettia poisonous to my pets? "

During the holidays, the poinsettia is a popular Christmas plant.  Though they have a bad reputation, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs.  According to the Pet Poison Helpline, the milky white sap found in poinsettia does contain certain chemicals that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus.  While poinsettia is commonly 'hyped' as a poisonous plant, it rarely is, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated.

When ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen.  If the poinsettia's milky sap is exposed to skin, irritation including redness, swelling, and itchiness may develop.  Rarely, eye exposure can result in a mild conjunctivitis or 'pink eye'.

Signs are self-limiting and generally don`t require medical treatment unless severe.
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.  Most animals and children will not eat such a large enough amount to cause any real medical problems or discomfort because of the irritating taste and feel from the sap.

The is one caveat to all of this.  If the plant has been treated with a pesticide, a pet could be at risk of becoming ill from ingesting the pesticide.  The severity of that depends of the pesticide, how much was ingested, and the size of the animal eating the plant.

Thanks for the question!  If you have questions you'd like to ask send me an email at AskEvan@FOX43.com.  Put 'Ask Evan' in the subject line.  You can also reach out to me on my Facebook page, Evan Forrester FOX43.  Whatever the topic I'll do my best to track down answers you are looking for.

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