Ask a Vet: What If My Dog Eats a Poinsettia?

Ask a Vet: What If My Dog Eats a Poinsettia?


Welcome our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on They've enlisted their Head of Shelter Medicine Program, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer two of your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!


I've heard poinsettias are poisonous to dogs and cats. Is that true? Are there other pet hazards around the holidays?

Yes, but they are probably the least of your poisonous holidays worries.  Poinsettias will cause irritation in the mouth and stomach, (vomiting), but despite its reputation isn’t too bad.    Does anyone hang  mistletoe anymore?  There are so many types of mistletoe that it’s hard to predict whether you animal will suffer a severe stomach upset, liver toxicity or seizures so keep it all out of reach and be sure to give your pup or cat a smooch each time they’re under it.

In my opinion more danger lies in the ribbons and tinsel for cats and all the food just hanging out to gulped down for dogs.  Cats love to bat around stringy objects and next thing you know they’ve eaten it.  Ribbons and tinsel get caught up in the intestines becoming linear foreign bodies that have to be surgically removed.   And dogs, well, all that chocolate sitting around combined with good intentioned visitors who just want to give Fido a treat is a recipe for a terrible stomach ache.

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Wednesday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat.  If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.


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