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Are Poinsettias Toxic to Dogs and Cats ?

Updated on October 14, 2013

Celebrate December 12th Poinsettia day!

Some interesting facts about Poinsettias

Poinsettias: these beautiful star shaped red blooms effectively bring a whiff of Christmas spirit to homes along with adorned Christmas trees and stockings hanging off a fireplace. Yet, for years these marvelous plants have been removed from the tables and put far out of reach, safely away from small children and pets.

It may be a hard pill to swallow for all Poinsettia lovers to discover that Poinsettias are not the deadly plant as perceived for many years after all, causing nothing more than perhaps a mild stomach upset if a part of the plant is eaten. Eating a large amount of Poinsettias may luckily be very unlikely due to the plant's taste: very bitter and not very edible at all. So usually, a leaf or two will give the message to a curious toddler or rambunctious pet.

According to Poinsindex, "a 50 pound child would have to ingest 500-600 leaves to exceed experimental doses that found no toxicity." The white sticky sap however, may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Pet owners can rely on findings from the ASPCA. According to ASPCA,"In reality, poinsettia ingestions typically produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which may include drooling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea, but you need not banish the poinsettia from your home for fear of a fatal exposure altogether."

More about this can read here:

ASPCA, Deadly or Not? Busting the Poinsettia Myth

So all pet lovers and mothers of small children can now rejoice and no longer need to totally banish this plant from their home. They may still want to keep pets and small children away tough to prevent gastro-intestinal issues.

While the red Poinsettia is the most common, Poinsettias come also in a variety of colors. Pink, yellow, salmon, white and orange Poinsettias may be found in specialized garden centers. There are also some unusual specimens with mixed colors such as white and red, resembling Candy canes. More and more varieties are being produced each year.

The name Poinsettia originated from Joel Robert Poinsett, first American Ambassodor of Mexico which enjoyed the plant so much that he took a specimen from Mexico to his hometown in South Carolina where the plant thrived. The native Mexican flower was also known as Flores de Noche Buena- Flowers of the holy night. The name originated from a legend about a child looking for a humble gift for baby Jesus. She grabbed a few stems and upon approaching the altar, legend states the stems bloomed into beautiful star shaped flowers resembling the Holy Comet.

Most of us consider the red blooms to be flowers when they are actually pigmented leaves. The actual flowers are the pretty insignificant yellowish buds found in the center. So, what people pretty much are fond of, are the Poinsettia's leaves.

Poinsettias are not only very ornamental plants, but they can also prove to provide health benefits. They seem to contribute in improving air quality in homes, effectively removing harmful pollutants such as Formaldehyde, commonly found in plywood.

Poinsettias have become so popular that over 65 millions plants are sold in the US every year. They also dedicated a calendar day to this famous plant. December 12th is Poinsettia day! Now that the poisonous myth has been put aside, enjoy a colorful Poinsettia this Christmas holiday, it will bring lots of festivity, adorn your home and purify your house. Of course, use common sense and keep it away to avoid the gastro-intestinal problems discussed above. What else can you ask for!? Happy Poinsettia day!

Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for veterinary advice. If your dog or cat ever gets sick as a result of ingesting something toxic or poisonous, please consult with your veterinarian or contact the ASPCA at (888) 426-4435

Poinsettias from a doc's perspective


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    • profile image

      Susie-Q 5 years ago

      Alexadry, Thank you for the information on poinsettias and animals. I appreciate that you gave your references from the ASPCA. As far as the Naddy's comments go, total knee jerk reactions from a closed minded person. She/he obviously has problems learning from reading information.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks mzlizzy, I thought the same until the ASPCA published this and our vets were updated on its toxicity. As seen, many vets are still dealing with this myth;

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Well, very interesting, indeed. I have several cats, and one year at a party, someone brought me one of these pretty plants, and my adult daughter commented in an aside to me, "Oh, lovely; POISONsettias!"

      I did know from a landscaping class I took that the actual flowers are insignificant, and that the pretty red are specialized leaves called "bracts."

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for stopping by my hub on poinsettia toxicity for pets. I'm going to take a look at your hubs, kind regards!

    • Vista15 profile image

      Tiana Dreymor 5 years ago from Columbus, OH

      Hi. I have 3 dogs and 3 cats indoors, and just was gifted my first ever Poinsettia. One of my (half grown) kittens fell off the coffee table with a couple books he had perched on. Upon examination, I found teeth marks on the flower... and wonderd IF they were poisonous. My Google led me here... surprised to see a hubber. I've just started hubbing and am glad to read your article and your explanations. I'm not going to worry about my kitty. He probably won't get back on the coffee table for a while, anyway.

      I have 5 hubs under Vista 15... look me up.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Thank you for checking on that, kind regards!

    • louromano profile image

      louromano 6 years ago

      All my sources agree with alexadry- they aren't poisonous.

    • profile image

      CAROYN 6 years ago


    • profile image

      Christy 6 years ago

      Alexadry, I am totally with you, as a vet tech, we get those calls ''my cat ate poinsettia'' a lot near the holidays. According to the American Medical Association's Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, other than occasional cases of vomiting, ingestion of the poinsettia plant has been found to produce no ill effect.

      The Society of American Florists worked with the academic faculty of entomology at Ohio State University to thoroughly test all parts of the poinsettia and conclusively established that there were no adverse effects. In 1975, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission denied a petition to require warning labels for poinsettia plants.

      The American Veterinary Medicine Association of America does not include poinsettias on its list of plants that are a threat to animals. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that ingestion of poinsettias may cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which may include drooling, vomiting, and/or diarrhea -- but nothing severe or fatal.''

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Also, it is important to differentiate things from being moderately harmful, potentially harmful and deadly. Yes, poinsettia can be labeled as ''mildly toxic'' since they may cause gastro-intestinal problems but they are not deadly as other plants. And my article is to clarify this.

      If you think about it, even hydrogen peroxide is labeled as ''harmful to animals'' but only because it causes vomiting and this is why vets use for emesis.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Naddy, it was not my intention to be nasty, but if you read your initial post your terms were chosen pretty badly and I felt you were the one quite unprofessional to start with, so I followed your lead.

      What you are posting now are your opinions, you can choose not to purchase poinsettia, but others should be kept informed that their cat or dog will very likely not die from ingesting a couple of leaves. Personally, I would not keep this plant either, indeed I never buy the plant, but the PURPOSE of my article is to pass on the ASPCA'S news.

      When working for a vet this is the exact information we used to pass on,''No your cat will not die from ingesting a few poinsettia leaves, but keep an eye on your pet for gastro-intestinal problems'' My vets had an old copy of a paper printed out where poinsettias were still claimed to be deadly, after the ASPCA's statements came out, we updated our records and followed their guidelines. If you do not agree with my hub, then call the ASPCA directly and they will likely tell the same things I have posted. Again, the ASPCA is what vets rely on, and unfortunately, not all vets are up-to-date on the latest information. If you have vets that are more informed than the ASCPA, please post their findings here and i will update my hub, but to say it bluntly I trust the ASPCA more than vets, indeed, vets called the ASPCA when they did not know if something was toxic or poisonous.

    • profile image

      naddy143 6 years ago

      Whoa! Very nasty rebuttal and very unprofessional! I am not accusing you of giving bad advice. I am saying that the people who informed you of this, gave you inappropriate advice. I am well aware of ASPCA and what they stand for and I have followed most of their guidelines in regards to raising my pets Sadly,this time I believe wrong advice was given to you and thousands of more people. These plants can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. Yes I know that it can range from mild - severe but I love my pet far more than any Poinsettia! So why take the chance on your pet becoming ill? What if your pet was already fighting an illness and then came in contact with this plant, through ingestion? As a responsible pet owner, I would keep these plants out of my house. A young kitten vs adult cat - who would be more susceptible to getting sick?

      As I stated previously, I love my pet way to much to bring her in contact with this plant. I just fear that people are going to read your post and think that it is okay to bring this plant into their home over the holidays. Maybe their pet won't touch it, then again - maybe they will. I do know that the condition of my pet right at this moment, if she were to ingest Poinsettia leaves - she would end up on her doctors table fighting for her life! So, why not inform the public of the whole story instead of bits and pieces?

      Seriously, how many times has the FDA, allowed a drug to pass, saying it was fine, only to to turn around and take it off the market because of potential side effects? Same thing applies here!

      In response to the post from " Animal Lover" you are so right! BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT.....BUT ALWAYS CONSIDER THE SOURCE! *If you search the net long enough, you will find the answer you want to hear...doesn't make it right, but it is out there and someone will always believe it.

      Also "Author" after speaking with three veterinarians plus a teaching hospital, why would I print such a thing for these wonderful doctors who work diligently every day of their lives, saving animals!

      Maybe YOU should print a copy of this and reflect back on it, when a beautiful pet gets very sick from ingesting poinsettias.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Naddy, it saddens me instead when people fail to read my reputable sources. My article is based on what the ASPCA reports about poinsettias, the ASPCA if you do not know who they are, is the ANIMAL POISON CONTROL CENTER (and all vets know who they are because they call them to figure out what to do if a pet is poisoned). If you were too lazy to read my article and figure out what ASPCA stands for, I hope you will take your time to at least read this source. before accusing me of posting bad advice:

      and please print a copy for your vets....

    • profile image

      naddy143 6 years ago

      Dear Author,

      It truly saddens me that this type of information is going through the net and some innocent animal could die because they believed what was said about Poinsettias being safe! These are very poisonous to pets always have been and always will be. Yes, Lillie's are poison too. I don't know where you got your source or who backed you up on this but if it was a Veterinarian, then they really should go back to school! I have researched this and spoke to several veterinarians, who can not understand how and why a certified doctor would back up such rubbish and allow someones pet to get very ill, even die because they were mislead! So, if you have a pet..DO NOT HAVE POINSETTIA'S!

    • profile image

      Vi 6 years ago

      All my sources agree with alexadry- they aren't poisonous.

      Now Lillys that's another story.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

      Animal Lover, I understand your concern but I worked for vets and I sourced my information which comes from the mouth of the ASPCA animal poison control center. Of course, all owners should seek their vet for advice!

    • profile image

      Animal Lover 6 years ago

      Belive want you want, but always consider the source.

      Why trust a stranger on some blog over the word of many highly trained Veterinary professionals? It's like taking medical advice from your plumber. If you doubt what you read, Before you risk the lives of your beloved pet.....ask your Vet.

    • profile image

      amy and cat stevie 6 years ago

      i almost passed out when i saw that my cat just ate a leaf from a poinsettia that i just got as a gift 10 minutes before...thank you for the info on that plant. i can start to relax now. i was sick to my stomach.

      amy from new jersey

    • Groovy Grooming profile image

      Groovy Grooming 7 years ago from 8937 rt 15 Wayland, New York 14572

      I am so glad to hear the plant is not deadly. Now I can enjoy them again.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

      Always worth monitoring though to avoid the gastro-intestinal problems!

    • profile image

      Jess 8 years ago

      Yay! I can finally bring one into my house without fear that I'll be responsible for my kitty dying!

    • profile image

      Megosh 8 years ago

      Great! Thanks! I have always wondered!

    • byee profile image

      byee 9 years ago

      Good to know!


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