Aussie pet owners warned over toxic Christmas gifts

Do you know which festive plants and flowers are safe for pets?

Christmas is approaching, and vets are warning Aussies to do their research before giving presents to pet owners.

They're advising it's the season to be cautious, particularly when it comes to plants associated with the festive season. Popular examples like holly and poinsettias are toxic to cats and dogs, and even pine needles and pine cones can cause mild irritation including diarrhoea and vomiting if ingested.

Australian Veterinary Association president, Dr Diana Barker, told Yahoo News Australia Christmas isn't far away, so it's time for Aussies to do their "homework" about deadly plants.

A display of poinsettias (left) which can be toxic to pets; and (right) a dog under a Christmas tree. Source: Getty (File)
Christmas plants like poinsettias (left) can be toxic if ingested by pets. Source: Getty (File)

"If you're going to give a plant to someone with a pet, just make sure it's safe... People often don’t realise, particularly when they’re ordering online," she said.

Four Christmas plants that can be toxic to pets

  • Poinsettias

  • Yew

  • Jerusalem Cherry

  • Mistletoe

Flowers that are deadly to cats

Dr Barker advised it is also important to also check the makeup of bunches of flowers, as the mix can sometimes contain deadly blooms.

Working as a vet, clients have sent Dr Barker lilies several times, but she is unable to take them home because she has cats, and some varieties are deadly.

“All parts of some lilies are toxic to cats, and I mean really toxic. They just have to take a bite and it can put them into acute renal failure,” she said.

It’s important to remember dogs and cats are curious animals, so bringing anything new into the house can spark excitement.

“They want to see what it is and play with it. Some dogs chew everything, so you might find your plant destroyed and a sick dog. It’s worthwhile always doing your homework.

Is it just Christmas I should be concerned about?

Christmas isn’t the only holiday that sparks increased risk for cats and dogs. Halloween and Easter often result in chocolate and plastic toys being brought into the home and both of these can be deadly if swallowed.

If you suspect your pet has swallowed something it shouldn’t have, you can call the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738.

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