Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

Updated: Dec. 05, 2022

Make sure the holidays are magical for everyone—including your four-legged friends. If you decorate with poinsettias, here's what to know.

The holidays are coming, with plenty of tasty treats, glowing lights, and lovely holiday houseplants all wrapped up in them. You might eagerly anticipate adding a poinsettia to your windowsill or pinning some mistletoe above a crackling fireplace. (After all, it can be tough for gardeners once winter settles in!) But for pet owners, one of the most iconic “holiday season” plants requires extra caution, if not a complete skip. Are poinsettias poisonous to your cats and dogs? Here’s what you should know.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?Anna_Hirna/Getty Images
Keep poinsettias out of reach of your indoor cats.

As the most wonderful time of year approaches, you might wonder: are poinsettias dangerous for your indoor cats? The answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as you might assume. According to the ASCPA, poinsettias are considered toxic to dogs, cats and horses. The plant’s sap can pose a problem for animals’ mouths and stomachs, which the organization says can cause vomiting if your furry pal eats enough.

Psst—dog owners should avoid these off-limits houseplants.

With all of that said, the ASCPA also notes that toxicity in poinsettias is “generally over-rated.” That’s also the consensus from the American Kennel Club, which lists them as a “mildly toxic plant.” The Kennel Club advises pet owners to use caution when decorating with these plants, but it suggests it’s possible to still display them while keeping them away from animals.

Poinsettia Poisoning Signs to Watch for

Poinsettia Plant Christmas Star FlowerMatic Grmek/Getty Images
Pet owners can grow poinsettias by taking some precautions.

Both the ASCPA and the Kennel Club list vomiting as a symptom. The Kennel Club lists a few more, including drooling, diarrhea, and skin irritation. It suggests getting veterinary care for your pet if they exhibit clinical symptoms. It also states that side effects of poinsettias are not usually serious or fatal. So, if your four-legged pal does happen to swallow a leaf, it’s not usually necessary to seek emergency medical intervention. But call your vet just to be safe.

Here’s your guide to creating a dog-friendly backyard.

Which Holiday Plants Are Toxic and Non-Toxic?

Christmas Cactus (schlumbergera)Nadezhda_Nesterova/Getty Images
A Christmas cactus is a safe alternative for homes with pets.

First things first: While poinsettias aren’t a total no-go, you should definitely avoid mistletoe and amaryllis. Both of those have more serious side effects if your pet ingests them. Plus, cat owners should always avoid these 9 poisonous plants.

To err on the side of caution, it’s a good idea to opt for a completely safe alternative. One such plant is a Christmas cactus—you might also try African violet or others on a properly vetted list of safe holiday plants.

Next, learn if tulip flowers and bulbs are toxic to cats.