Which Holiday Plants Are Safe for My Cats and Dogs?

A Question of the Week
African violet

Potted plants are very popular as gifts or decorations around the holiday season, but if you or a loved one has pets, you may need to take extra care when selecting which plants to bring home. Many pets simply can’t avoid the lure of a new potted plant or arrangement in the house. If you have a particularly curious cat or dog who you fear may sample the plants you bring home for the holidays, it’s best to make sure that the plant in question is not known to have toxic effects.

Some of the most popular holiday plants can be quite toxic if ingested. Just how poisonous they are depends largely on the size of the animal and how much is ingested. If eaten, many holiday plants have the potential to cause abnormal behavior or vomiting and diarrhea. Common toxic plants to avoid include:

  • Holly (Ilex)
  • Azalea (Rhododendron)
  • Yew (Taxus)
  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • Amaryllis
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Mistletoe
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Gardenia

Poinsettia, which is probably the most popular holiday plant of all, can irritate the skin, mouth, and stomach, but its toxicity is largely over-rated. 

Fortunately, there are still a number of plants and decorations that aren’t poisonous. Some good choices are:

  • Christmas cactus
  • African violet
  • Phalanopsis orchid
  • Bromeliad (Neoregalia)
  • Rose
  • Boston fern
  • Peperomia
  • Prayer plant (Calathea)
  • Spider plant
  • Swedish ivy
  • Polka dot plant (Hypoestes)

Christmas christmas
Christmas cactus

Be aware that even if a plant is considered non-toxic, it could still cause vomiting or gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats, but it should not be life-threatening. It is always best practice to keep plants out of reach if possible.

If a plant you are interested in was not listed above, check out the list of toxic and non-toxic plants from the ASPCA. If you think your pet may have eaten a poisonous plant or if you have additional questions, get in touch with your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435.


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Anna Boudreau
State Advisory Council Chair, Natural Resources Steward and NH Coverts Cooperator