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Christmas Plants That Are Poisonous to Pets and Small Children

Updated on December 11, 2013

Christmas time is almost upon us again. Many of us like to decorate our homes for the Christmas season with traditional plants and flowers. The poinsettia is always a big favorite; it's bright red leaves just scream Christmas. We hang mistletoe so we can kiss our beloved. We like to decorate window sills and banisters with holly and ivy. And last, but certainly not least, many of us like to put a large real Christmas tree in the middle of our living rooms.

Christmas decorations and plants are great for helping us get in the Christmas spirit. However, all of these can be dangerous to pets and small children. You must be aware of how dangerous Christmas plants can be.

Santa says, "be safe this Christmas"



There is some controversy, mostly from those who sell flowers, whether or not poinsettias are poisonous. Actually, the flower itself is not poisonous but the sap that comes out of the leaves can cause skin and mouth irritation, and vomiting. If a pet or child ingests any of the plant, it can be treated by washing with soap and water.



The berries of the mistletoe plant are extremely poisonous. It is recommended that you remove the berries if you plan to have the plant around your house. The berries can cause excessive salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination, heavy breathing and a fast heart rate. 



Like mistletoe, the berries on the holly plant are poisonous. They are not as poisonous as mistletoe berries and many birds do live on them but they can cause gastric intestinal distress, vomiting and diarrhea in small children and pets. If you think a pet or child has ingested the berries, contact your doctor or vet immediately. 

Boo admiring the artificial Christmas tree.
Boo admiring the artificial Christmas tree.

Pine trees

If you bring a real Christmas tree into your home you must be aware of the dangers, to pets especially. It is inevitible that the needles will fall off a pine tree. If your pet ingests the pine needles there is a danger of their internal organs being pierced by the needles. It's probably safest to buy an artificial tree. They don't drop needles, they don't dry out, and they are not a fire hazard. 

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Don't be afraid of decorating your homes with Christmas plants and flowers. Just taking a few precautions can ensure that you and your family and your pets will have a wonderful holiday season.


Submit a Comment

  • Suhail and my dog profile image

    Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 5 years ago from Mississauga, ON

    Very informative hub indeed. My dog has a habit of nibbling at wood and plants for few seconds and then moving ahead with other pieces. This hub is an eye opener for me.

    Thank you for a timely advice.

  • Cathy Fidelibus profile image

    Ms. Immortal 5 years ago from NJ

    Very informative. I don't have any of those this year, just lot's of homemade gingerbread houses and crafts which my dog I am sure would love to get into.

    I will pass on this information to my friends who have pets, thanks.

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I have a houseful of pets, so this is good to know! :-)

  • Mike Robbers profile image

    Mike Robbers 5 years ago from London

    I have never heard of these plants - Poinsettia, Mistletoe and Holly.. really informative and quite useful hub though .. thanks!

  • idigwebsites profile image

    idigwebsites 5 years ago from United States

    Most of these plants are bright and colorful. Kids and pets (unless they're color-blind) are almost instantly attracted to those things, especially those with berries. Thanks for sharing your informative hub. Voted up and useful.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

    Very useful article here. I knew about the plants you mention with the exception of mistletoe. When I worked in our Vet. clinic we would see cats and puppies who ate the tinsel from trees. It would literally cut their intestines.

    I voted this UP, and will share.

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    Thanks for this hub uninvitedwriter, my family has a lot of pets and small children, and I will get the word out about these poisonous xmas plants. I agree with LondonGirl the holly berries look very inviting to little ones with their bright colour.

  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 9 years ago from London

    Great hub! I think that holly berries are particularly risky for small children, because their bright red colour is so inviting.

  • Constant Walker profile image

    Constant Walker 9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

    Very informative. I didn't know about mistletoe berries - I'd never even seen them before!

    Good stuff!

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    I hadn't really thought about pine needles before until I started researching this hub.

    I usually go for the fake decorations these days. I bought a real fir tree (not actually a tree, more like a few branches) a few years ago and it made me sick. So, it's all fake for me these days :)

    Thanks for the comments, SweetiePie and NYLady.

  • NYLady profile image

    NYLady 9 years ago from White Plains, NY

    UW: I knew some of this stuff because my mother was a florist. But I never knew about the pine needles and pets! My cats are notorious for playing in and around our tree, so I might go artificial this year. Thanks for the info!

  • SweetiePie profile image

    SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

    Very informative hub.  I know people love mistletoe around Christmas, but we never liked it because we had to constantly get up on a high ladder and remove this parasite from our tall oak tree.  We ended up having to saw a large section off this massive oak because the damage from the mistletoe.  Some neighbor kids used to sell mistletoe from their tree to people visiting from the city, which was pretty humorous.