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The truth about poinsettia poisoning in pets

poinsettia toxicity
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The myth about poinsettia poisoning

Many people believe that the poinsettia plant is extremely toxic to your pets.

These lovely little plants are popular as gifts and for decorating your home over the holidays.  Sadly, many a lonely flower sits out in the trash to endure a cold winter alone because people think that it will kill their beloved pet.

This is not true – poinsettias are not that toxic

In the early 1900s, a young child ingested the leaf of a poinsettia plant and died.  Officials soon discovered that the cause of death was completely unrelated to the plant. Despite this, the rumor of the deadly toxicity of the plant remains.  No deaths have actually occurred after ingestion of parts of a poinsettia plant!

While poinsettias can cause some tummy irritation in your animal such as vomiting and diarrhea, it is not going to be life-threatening.  In fact, the ingestion of the poinsettia plant only causes mild vomiting and diarrhea according to the ASPCA.

There is a risk of digestive obstruction secondary to the ingestion of plant material

It’s still always a good idea to contact a veterinary professional if your animal has ingested anything.  If your pet did not eat very much, your vet may have you manage this at home. However, the average pet cannot digest large amounts of plant material from any plant. Eating a lot of plant material leads to a blockage or obstruction.

Obstructions are life-threatening conditions where indigestible objects get stuck in the tummy or intestines.  This completely or partially prevents other food and waste product from passing.  Enough pressure from a blockage can cut off blood flow to the intestines and potentially lead to intestinal death.

Signs of a blockage tend to develop within 2-3 days and include repeated vomiting, lethargy, straining to poop or an inability to poop, pacing and restlessness, stomach pain, and a lack of desire to eat or drink.  Hospitalization and surgery are required for treatment, so the sooner you seek care after seeing similar signs, the better the chances your pet has to survive.

Go right ahead and dress up your home with botanic cheer this year, but do so safely.  Keep any decoration out of reach of your pets, and keep in close contact with your vet if you see them swallow something down.

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