Home Dog Health Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

Dogs are often mischievous creatures who like to explore, sniff and, of course, eat everything. This can often get them into trouble and cause health issues if they chew on something that they shouldn’t have. During Christmas time, dogs have plenty of opportunities to do just that, with a great bunch of poisonous things lying around. You may be wondering are Christmas cactus poisonous to dogs?

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to DogsTechnically, the answer is NO – Christmas cactus is NOT poisonous to dogs and you can have it around your pets. But like with all other safe/unsafe plants, there are some rules to follow for pet owners. We'll talk about a few other different plants that are commonly displayed during the holiday season and whether or not they could be harmful to your pet. The Christmas season is a very busy time of the year, and it's important that you take your dog's safety into consideration.

Dogs are naturally curious creatures. Between the Christmas tree, decorations and gifts, there are numerous new things coming into your house during this time of year. That means there are new smells to investigate almost every day.

It can be very tempting for your dog to investigate all of these new things, and unfortunately that can mean tasting any plants or edible items that are within their reach. It's your responsible to ensure that you're not bringing things into your home that could be toxic to your pet, and if you do, you need to ensure that they are put out of reach of your canine companion. So are Christmas cactus poisonous to dogs, and why or why not?

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs

Why Do Dogs Eat Christmas Cactus?

While the Christmas cactus is NOT poisonous to dogs, there are a few safety things you must consider about this plant (and many other plants in general) to ensure that your pup doesn't pose any danger to himself around them. Know why your dog has the urge to eat these plants in the first place. And, it's not just Christmas cactus that your pet will be enticed to eat. I'll talk more about other dangerous seasonal plants later in this article.

First of all, dogs are naturally curious and they love to try everything out. That is why you will often see your dog stuffing his mouth with some of the weirdest things. In fact, dogs explore with their mouths and if your dog always seems to find something to chew on, that just means that he is a big explorer.

Also, dogs are omnivores and they often really enjoy eating plants. They also eat plants to get some roughage, since that is a great source of vitamins and can help dogs have a better bowel movement and pass food easier through their intestines. They are also scavengers by nature and when you see your dog eating a piece of pizza from the garbage even though you just gave him high-quality dog food, that is just his nature kicking in.

Nature and instincts also kick in for another reason – the so-called “feast or famine” situation. Dogs used to go for days, or even weeks, without food in the past and those instincts often lead them to stuff everything in their mouth out of fear of famine, including your Christmas cactus. Also, boredom can be a big reason why your dog decided to nimble on a cactus.

In addition to all this, there are also some medical reasons why dogs eat everything that they come across. Among others diseases, the main culprits are parasites, and if you suspect that your dog might have some health issue, don’t hesitate to take him to the vet. Also, if you suspect that your dog has eaten something that he shouldn’t have, call your vet immediately.

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Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

Christmas cactus is one of the most common Christmas gifts, as well as a widely used decorative plant at Christmas time. Since it blooms in the winter, Christmas cactus is basically the perfect plant to be used as decoration during the holidays and wither festivities. With its bright red flowers and complex pads, this plant is truly beautiful and your guests will certainly enjoy it.

Christmas cactus – as well as another similar plant, the Easter cactus – are not poisonous to dogs.

It is perfectly fine to have this amazing plant around your dog, or even a cat if you have one. Since it is not actually a real cactus it doesn’t even have spines, so you don’t even have to worry about your dog getting cut if he goes near it.

However, you should still make sure that your dog doesn’t eat the Christmas cactus, or at least not a great amount. Its fibrous plant material can cause irritation to the intestines and stomach of your dog and lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Also, you might be adding insecticides or fertilizers, and that is something that can really harm your dog.

Similar to this, the sap of the Christmas cactus can be a potential allergen and can be especially harmful to dog’s that are delicately built. So, we've answered the question ‘Are Christmas cactus poisonous to dogs?' Even the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, has confirmed that they are not. However, you should still keep your dog away from it and not allow him to eat it since it can cause certain digestive problems.

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Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs

Other Christmas Plants and Dogs

We can't just leave you with the answer to the question ‘Are Christmas cactus poisonous to dogs?' There are many plants that are used as Christmas decorations. Knowing which of them are poisonous to dogs can help you keep your dog safe and react fast if something happens and he eats the wrong plant.

Some of these plants should be kept away from your dog, while others should be completely avoided since the risk is just too high. If you are not perfectly sure that your dog won’t come near them, the safest thing to do is not keep them in your home.

1. Poinsettia

For a long time, it was believed that poinsettia is extremely toxic to dogs and that it can even be deadly for them. However, that is actually not a very likely thing to happen and recent studies have shown that poinsettia is not really that harmful to neither pets nor children.

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to DogsOf course, that doesn’t mean that you should let your dog eat poinsettia. It can still cause him a lot of harm. The colorful leaves that poinsettia has contain a sap that can irritate your dog’s mouth and esophagus and damage it. Also, if he ingests the leaves, they can often cause vomiting and nausea.

In some extreme cases, it can also cause poisoning, but that would require eating a large amount of the plant, which is unlikely to happen since the taste from the sap is not pleasant and it is, as we said, irritating.

On the other hand, if you use pesticides for your plants, then any plant can be dangerous, depending on the size of your dog and the amount of plant material eaten. Some of the reactions to plants treaded with pesticides include seizures, coma or even death. Puppies are, of course, at the biggest risk and you should keep any plant out of the reach if you have a puppy.

2. Mistletoe

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to DogsMistletoe is another popular holiday plant that you need to keep as far away from your dog as you can. It is very toxic and poisonous to dogs, so you should make sure that your dog can’t reach it anyhow. Mistletoe contains more than one toxic substance and that makes it extremely dangerous.

It can cause severe stomach ache, but also breathing problems, blood pressure drop, and in some cases even hallucinations. If your dog eats a large amount of mistletoe, seizures might ensue, and in some cases, it can even be lethal to your dog.

3. Holly

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to DogsHolly is another plant that is probably as dangerous as mistletoe for your dog. If you are considering using it to decorate your home for Christmas, you need to make sure that your dog won’t be able to come near it and eat it. Holly can have the same effects on your dog as mistletoe, but it also has pretty bitter taste and extremely sharp leaves, so your dog will probably stay away from it on his own.

However, even a small amount causes health problems for your dog, so keep him away from it. Also, if you have children in the house, you should make sure that they stay away from holly plants as well, since they are also toxic to humans.

4. Amaryllis

Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to DogsAmaryllis, which is also known as Saint Joseph Lily, Belladonna, Cape Belladonna or Naked Lady, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Christmas plants. However, it is also one of the most poisonous plants, especially to dogs.

Amaryllis contains multiple toxic substances and can cause salivation, stomach pain and gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea, as well as lethargy and tremors. The most dangerous part of the amaryllis is the bulb, but flowers and stalk are also dangerous and should be avoided. If you are considering including amaryllis in your Christmas decorations, you better think twice and make sure that your dog is safe from its dangers.

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Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs

What About the Christmas Tree?

If you've been asking yourself ‘Are Christmas cactus poisonous to dogs?,' you've probably been questioning the safety of your Christmas tree too. Christmas trees can also be dangerous to your dogs, even though the tree itself is not poisonous to dogs, at least not to some life-threatening extent.

The needles from pine family trees can be mildly toxic and cause some slight irritation in both mouth and stomach if your dog ingests them. The severity of symptoms will depend on the amount ingested, as well as the size of your dog, but generally, you shouldn’t be too worried about the Christmas tree.

However, some things that are included in a traditionally decorated Christmas tree can cause all sorts of problems to your dog. For example, some Christmas ornaments can be extremely poisonous to dogs, depending on the material from which they are made of. Also, glass ornaments can cut your dog if they break, and Christmas candles can cause a fire if your dog manages to tip the tree over, so you should avoid them.

Christmas tree water, which usually contains pesticides or fertilizers, can also be pretty poisonous to dogs, so try to secure it somehow. It is best, however, to keep your dog away from your Christmas tree altogether.

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Dom Naish is a Phoenix-based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught him every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.