Christmas

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs?

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs? Experts settle the matter once and for all

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs? tabby cat looking up at camera sitting by red poinsettia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Every year homeowners ask 'Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs?' and often receive a range of responses that aren't definitive.  

If you have pets and have recently bought a poinsettia or been gifted one, then you need to know the answer as to whether poinsettias are likely to cause harm to your beloved cats or dogs.

Caring for a poinsettia includes putting it in the right position, but in doing so, you need to know whether to keep them out of your pets' reach. Because the last thing you want is to gift or display this beautiful plant and risk it harming pets.

To get to the bottom of this problem, we have asked leading experts whether poinsettias are poisonous to cats and dogs and share their responses with you.

golden retreiver puppy sitting on red blanket by poinsettia


(Image credit: Alamy)

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats and dogs? 

One of the best Christmas plants, poinsettias are an icon of the holiday season. They are often incorporated into Christmas decor ideas and are also popular gifts. But are they going to harm your pets?

‘No, poinsettias are not poisonous to cats, dogs or humans,' says Jim Faust, associate professor of floriculture physiology at Clemson University (opens in new tab), South Carolina, who has been studying poinsettias for nearly four decades. 'I’ve eaten a few – they don’t taste great.'

On the whole, the expert consensus is that poinsettias are not poisonous to cats or dogs – or at least not to a concerning degree.

That sounds like good news for poinsettia lovers. But just to be certain, we also asked Gail Pabst from the National Garden Bureau (opens in new tab), a leading authority on horticultural matters. ‘Many people still think that poinsettias are poisonous to cats, dogs, and people, but they are definitely not, as proven in many tests.' 

However, while poinsettias are one of the best pet-friendly houseplants, if your cat or dog is partial to munching on plants then it's always wise to position them out of reach.

Now all you need to worry about choosing the best poinsettias for Christmas.

cat and poinsettia on window sill

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can you have a poinsettia with a dog?

Yes, you can have a poinsettia with a dog. Poinsettias are not very poisonous and as such, there is no reason why you can't have a poinsettia with a dog. If your dog is often interested in your houseplants, however, it is worth positioning your poinsettia out of their reach to keep your plant save and minimize mess.

christmas-mouse-poinsettia

(Image credit: Dobbies)

How poisonous is a poinsettia?

A poinsettia is not very poisonous at all. 

'Although other members of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) have highly toxic sap, the poinsettia's own toxicity is quite mild,' says gardening expert Mick Lavelle.

'To put this in context, an average eight-year-old child would have to eat around 500 leaves to accumulate harmful levels of these toxins.'

When adding indoor plants to your home, it is always important that you check whether it is safe for your pets – for example 'are Christmas cactus poisonous to cats and dogs?'

tabby cat next to small and large poinsettia sitting on table by window looking at snow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What to do if a dog eats poinsettia?

If your dog or cat does eat poinsettia, it is unlikely to do them any severe harm. However, keep an eye on them, and if you notice any symptoms contact your vet immediately. 

Founder of Houseplant Authority (opens in new tab) Naomi Robinson warns that ingesting poinsettias may cause mild side effects to some pets.

'Poinsettias are slightly toxic to cats and dogs, so if your pet ingests some of this plant, you may see some effects such as drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea,' she says. 

‘Their milky sap can also lead to some irritation if it touches your pet's skin or eyes. But given that the effects of ingestion or exposure are usually not severe, it's rare for your cat or dog to require a visit to the vet unless these issues persist.’

As editor of Period Living, Britain's best-selling period homes magazine, Melanie loves the charm of older properties. I live in a rural village just outside the Cotswolds in England, so am lucky to be surrounded by beautiful homes and countryside, where I enjoy exploring. Having worked in the industry for almost two decades, Melanie is interested in all aspects of homes and gardens. Her previous roles include working on Real Homes and Homebuilding & Renovating, and she has also contributed to Gardening Etc. She has an English degree and has also studied interior design. Melanie frequently writes for Homes & Gardens about property restoration and gardening.

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