Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Dogs?

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 7/11/20242-4 minutes
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Poinsettias are the bright, vibrant red flowers that take center stage during Christmas and other winter holidays. Their scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima, and they originated in Central America. Although it was cultivated by the Aztecs of Mexico, today, people around the world use them as decorative elements throughout their homes during the Christmas holiday season. But if you’re a dog owner, you may have asked the question, Is the poinsettia toxic to dogs?

Yes, poinsettias are mildly toxic to dogs. It’s unlikely that a dog will suffer any serious health concern or fatality as a result of eating a poinsettia, but because consumption in large quantities can cause irritation, it is good to know the symptoms to look out for.

This article aims to answer questions about dogs and poinsettia plants. It addresses topics including:

  • Whether the poinsettia is harmful to dogs 
  • Causes, symptoms and treatments of poinsettia poisoning in dogs 
  • What to do if a dog ingests any part of the poinsettia plant 
  • How to keep your dog away from poinsettia plants 

Causes of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs

On the outset, a poinsettia looks like a completely harmless flower. But this bright red flowering plant contains a milky white sap in its leaves that’s mildly toxic to dogs. So, if you’re wondering whether a poinsettia is bad for dogs, it is. It’s best to keep your dog away from them.

The specific chemical in poinsettia plants that’s toxic to dogs is called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. These are chemicals commonly found in household cleaners. When your dog interacts with these chemicals, they can experience a variety of symptoms outlined later in this article. Whether they ingest it through the leaves, stem or flower of the poinsettia, they run the risk of experiencing irritation from these chemicals. This includes skin irritation, too, if your dog’s fur or skin comes in contact with the plant. Even if your dog ate a dead poinsettia leaf, the toxic chemical could still cause your dog to be at risk for developing symptoms.

What to Do if Your Dog Ate a Poinsettia

Your dog ate a poinsettia. Rest assured that your dog isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last to ingest a poinsettia. Curiosity can get the best of our beloved dogs. But poinsettia ingestion isn’t something to take lightly. If your dog ate a poinsettia leaf, flower or stem, the first thing you’ll want to do is place the plant in a safe place where your dog can no longer access it. Then, watch for signs or symptoms of irritation.

Symptoms of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog has ingested all or part of a poinsettia, keep an eye out for these common symptoms of dogs eating poinsettias. They include:

If your dog has been vomiting for 24 hours or more, contact your vet right away. Also, if you start to see other signs such as blood in your dog’s vomit, diarrhea, unproductive retching, lethargy or dehydration, it’s best to discuss the situation with your vet who can recommend the best course of action.

On the other hand, if your dog is experiencing diarrhea as a result of ingesting a poinsettia plant, monitor the color and consistency of the diarrhea. If the stool is red, black or tarry, contact your vet right away. Additionally, if the diarrhea lasts for 24 hours or more, consult your vet.

In the event that your vet doesn’t see dogs after hours, the Animal Poison Control Center can help. Contact them at (888) 426-4435 for immediate steps and advice.

Treatment for Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs

Has your dog ingested a poinsettia? Treatment for dogs that have ingested poinsettias is symptomatic and should be recommended by your veterinarian. Knowing the sap of the poinsettia can be irritating to the stomach, they may recommend a therapeutic food designed to be gentle on the stomach. In some cases, they may ask you to bring your dog in for a visit and keep them overnight for monitoring depending on the severity of the situation.

How to Keep Dogs Away From Poinsettias

The safest measure for keeping dogs away from poinsettias is to avoid bringing them home altogether. However, if you can’t part with this plant in your home, be sure to keep them away from your dog, and know that even when placed in high places, such as a fireplace mantle or as a centerpiece on the dining room table, there is a risk of the poinsettia leaves falling to the floor. If your dog eats poinsettia leaves, they may experience many of the poinsettia poisoning dog symptoms described previously in this article. Even in cases where a dog ate a dried poinsettia leaf, they run the risk of experiencing the symptoms. 

Yes, poinsettias are toxic for dogs, but the bottom line is if your dog eats a poinsettia leaf, there’s no cause for immediate worry. Make sure to move the plant to a safe place that’s out of your dog’s reach. Monitor them for symptoms, and contact your vet if symptoms worsen.

Other Holiday Plants to Keep Away From Your Dog

In addition to poinsettias, there are a handful of other holiday plants that are toxic to dogs including holly, mistletoe, lilies and azaleas. If you’re open to safe alternatives, there are plenty of festive floral options that are nontoxic to dogs. You might even resort to artificial flowers to remove the risk of toxicity. Whatever you decide to do, putting your dog’s safety first will always be the smartest choice. 

For more expert tips on caring for your dog, explore our other dog routine care articles

 

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