Christmas cactus and dogs

Christmas Cactus Cat Safety – Is Christmas Cactus Bad For Cats

Does your cat think the dangling stem of a Christmas cactus makes an excellent toy? Does he/she treat the plant like a buffet or a litter box? Read on to find out how to handle cats and Christmas cactus.

Christmas Cactus & Cat Safety

When your cat eats a Christmas cactus, your first concern should be the health of the cat. Is Christmas cactus bad for cats? The answer depends on how you grow your plants. According to the ASPCA plant database, Christmas cactus is not toxic or poisonous to cats, but insecticides and other chemicals used on the plant may be toxic. In addition, a sensitive cat eating Christmas cactus may suffer an allergic reaction.

Carefully read the label of any chemicals you may have recently used on the plant. Look for cautions and warnings as well as information about how long the chemical remains on the plant. Contact your vet if you have any concerns.

Cats love the feel of their paws in dirt, and once they discover this pleasure, it’s hard to keep them from digging in your plants and using them as litter boxes. Try covering the potting soil with a layer of pebbles to make it hard for kitty to dig down to the soil. For some cats, cayenne pepper sprinkled liberally over the plant and the soil acts as a deterrent. Pet stores sell a number of commercial cat deterrents.

One of the best ways to keep the cat out of a Christmas cactus is to plant it in a hanging basket. Hang the basket where the cat can’t reach it, even with a well-executed and carefully planned jump.

Christmas Cactus Broken By Cat

When the cat breaks stems off of your Christmas cactus, you make new plants by rooting the stems. You’ll need stems with three to five segments. Lay the stems aside in an area out of direct sunlight for a day or two to let the broken end callus over.

Plant them an inch deep in pots filled with potting soil that drains freely, such as cactus potting soil. Christmas cactus cuttings root best when the humidity is very high. You can maximize the humidity by enclosing the pots in a plastic bag. Cuttings root in three to eight weeks.

Cats and Christmas cactus can live in the same house. Even if your cat isn’t showing any interest in your plant right now, he/she may take an interest later. Take steps now to prevent damage to the plant and harm to the cat.

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?

Technically, 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?

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.

RECOMMENDED: What You Need To Know About Poison Prevention for 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.

RECOMMENDED: Christmas Dangers for 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.

Of 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.

Mistletoe 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

Holly 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

Amaryllis, 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.

SIMILAR: 39 Christmas Safety Tips for Pet Owners

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.

READ NEXT: Are Christmas Trees Poisonous To Dogs?

Which Holiday Plants Are Safe for My Cats and Dogs?

Potted plants are very popular as gifts or decorations around the holiday season, but if you or a loved one has pets, you may need to take extra care when selecting which plants to bring home. Many pets simply can’t avoid the lure of a new potted plant or arrangement in the house. If you have a particularly curious cat or dog who you fear may sample the plants you bring home for the holidays, it’s best to make sure that the plant in question is not known to have toxic effects.

Some of the most popular holiday plants can be quite toxic if ingested. Just how poisonous they are depends largely on the size of the animal and how much is ingested. If eaten, many holiday plants have the potential to cause abnormal behavior or vomiting and diarrhea. Common toxic plants to avoid include:

  • Holly (Ilex)
  • Azalea (Rhododendron)
  • Yew (Taxus)
  • Boxwood (Buxus)
  • Amaryllis
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Mistletoe
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Gardenia

Poinsettia, which is probably the most popular holiday plant of all, can irritate the skin, mouth, and stomach, but its toxicity is largely over-rated.

Fortunately, there are still a number of plants and decorations that aren’t poisonous. Some good choices are:

  • Christmas cactus
  • African violet
  • Phalanopsis orchid
  • Bromeliad (Neoregalia)
  • Rose
  • Boston fern
  • Peperomia
  • Prayer plant (Calathea)
  • Spider plant
  • Swedish ivy
  • Polka dot plant (Hypoestes)

Christmas cactus

Be aware that even if a plant is considered non-toxic, it could still cause vomiting or gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats, but it should not be life-threatening. It is always best practice to keep plants out of reach if possible.

If a plant you are interested in was not listed above, check out the list of toxic and non-toxic plants from the ASPCA. If you think your pet may have eaten a poisonous plant or if you have additional questions, get in touch with your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

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Can my dog eat Nopales?

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Can my dog eat Nopales?

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Nopales are a vegetable made from the pads of prickly pear cacti. The pads are usually green, but can also be purple, and are about the size of your hand. The taste is said to be something similar to green peppers, with a green bean texture. Nopales are used as a food source in Mexico and Central America, but also popular in the Southwest U.S. These popular veggies can be added to stir fries, eggs, pickled or canned—the sky’s the limit to how they can be used. Nopales are rich source of vitamins including Vitamin A, B6, C, K, and include minerals such as potassium, calcium and more.

Can my dog eat nopales? Generally, they’re not recommended for your fur baby. Can my puppy eat nopales? Again, they’re not usually recommended for puppies, either. With that said, we couldn’t find medical information that confirms prickly pear fruit is toxic to dogs; however, it might be a good idea to ask your vet if these are good for your pup. What would happen if my dog ate nopales? If he only had a small amount of nopales, he would probably be OK. However, if he ate a larger amount, he could develop tummy trouble and/or diarrhea. Again, it’s a good idea to check with your vet to see if nopales are safe for your precious pup!

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Are Succulents Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

Reviewed for accuracy on May 17, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM

Succulent plants are more popular than ever because they are easy to care for and work well as houseplants.

Marked by their thick, fleshy leaves, succulents are native to desert environments but adapt easily to a variety of conditions.

These hardy plants can thrive both indoors and outdoors, making them a favorite among both experienced gardeners and budding green thumbs.

While succulents can be great, low-maintenance houseplants for humans, they are not always a great option if you have furry family members.

If ingested, some varieties of this trendy plant could harm cats and dogs.

“Most succulents are nontoxic to our pets, but we can definitely see that some are poisonous,” says Dr. Elizabeth Muirhead, a veterinarian based in the Virginia Beach area.

If you want to bring succulents into your home or garden, first take a look at this list of safe and poisonous succulents for dogs and cats.

Succulents That Are Poisonous to Dogs and Cats

If you have a dog or cat in your household, you should steer clear of the following varieties of succulents.

Aloe Vera

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One of the most popular succulents, aloe vera is frequently used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Its sap is traditionally used to treat sunburns, and the plant’s extracts can be found in supplements, cosmetics and flavored waters.

However, this succulent can be poisonous to pets. “Components known as saponins are toxic to dogs and cats and can cause gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea as well as lethargy,” says Dr. Muirhead.

Aloe plants are characterized by long, spiked tendrils. Some varieties have white spotted foliage, while others flower periodically. All varieties should be kept away from pets, advises Dr. Muirhead.


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Kalanchoes are beloved for their plentiful blossoms, ranging in color from pale pink to fiery orange. Popular as a houseplant, this tropical succulent is known by a number of nicknames, including devil’s backbone, mother of millions and mother-in-law plant.

Perhaps not surprisingly, pets shouldn’t ingest something called the “devil’s backbone.”

“The predominant signs you might see if your pet ingests this plant are vomiting and diarrhea,” says Dr. Muirhead. “Abnormal heart rhythms can also result.”

If your pet ingests kalanchoe, Dr. Muirhead recommends seeking immediate veterinary care.


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A large, diverse genus, euphorbia includes tiny, low-growing plants to sprawling trees.

Many succulents in the euphorbia genus, such as the pencil cactus and crown of thorns, are known to be poisonous to both cats and dogs, says Dr. Marty Goldstein, an integrative veterinarian and best-selling author.

Symptoms of poisoning from ingesting this succulent range from gastrointestinal upset to skin and eye irritation, says Dr. Goldstein.

If you have pets, it is best to avoid any plant in the euphorbia genus, including the poisonous poinsettia.


Image via Nikitin

Like aloe vera, jade is a common, easy-to-grow houseplant that can be found on many windowsills. Jade plants have thick, woody stems and plump, oval leaves, giving them a tree-like appearance.

There are a number of varieties of jade—and all should be kept out of reach of pets, advises Dr. Goldstein. If your cat or dog ingests jade, they may experience symptoms including gastrointestinal upset and incoordination, notes Dr. Goldstein.

Succulents That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

If you are really looking to expand your plant collection and think succulents are the way to go, Dr. Muirhead recommends these pet-friendly options:

Hens and Chickens

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Also known as houseleek, hen and chickens (hen and chicks for short) among the most popular succulents, and for good reason.

Famously low-maintenance, they thrive everywhere from planters to rock gardens to succulent wreaths. The main plant—aka the “hen”—is connected to the smaller offshoots (her “chicks”) through small, delicate roots, making for a visually appealing display.


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If you’re a fan of aloe vera’s spiked silhouette, consider a haworthia instead. Also known as the zebra cactus, this easy-to-grow succulent has a similar appearance but is nontoxic to pets.

Burro’s Tail

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With lush trailing tendrils, the burro’s tail is perfect for displaying in hanging planters and on shelves. Although it doesn’t usually bloom, some plants will offer pink or red flowers under perfect conditions during the summer.

Protecting Your Pets From Toxic Plants

With thousands of varieties of succulents and increased availability of exotic plants, the best way to protect your pets is to identify exactly which plants are poisonous to dogs and cats, and refrain from bringing them into your home.

Before buying a new plant, Dr. Goldstein recommends referencing the ASPCA’s extensive poisonous plant database as well as the Pet Poison Helpline’s toxicity list.

If you already have plants in your home and garden, look up each one to verify that it is safe for pets.

It’s also important to note that any plant, toxic or not, can cause problems for pets.

“Even if plants are not toxic, ingesting plants is going to cause a gastrointestinal upset,” says Dr. Goldstein. “You should discourage your pets from eating plants—anything can be dangerous in high quantities.”

For this reason, pet parents should know the names of every plant in their home—including nicknames and Latin names.

If your pet does end up eating one of your nontoxic plants, or happens to eat a plant that could be poisonous while on a walk or while visiting a friend’s home, the best thing you can do is to first identify the plant.

Dr. Goldstein holds a veterinary degree from Cornell University, where there is an educational garden dedicated to poisonous plants. Even so, he admits, he would be unprepared to identify many species of dangerous plants on the spot—as would the vast majority of veterinarians.

“Know your plants ahead of time,” says Dr. Goldstein. “If your pet ingests a plant, look it up online for potential toxicity. I usually try to educate away from the internet, but this is tough, with so many different plants and toxic reactions.”

Before an incident occurs, you can familiarize yourself with some of the most common poisonous plants for dogs and cats that grow in your area or that friends might have as houseplants.

If you have any doubt whatsoever as to whether a plant is poisonous to pets, call one of these animal poison control hotlines:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661

By: Monica Weymouth

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Answering Whether or Not The Christmas Cactus is Poisonous

Having a plant inside your house does not only contribute in beautifying the area, it also gives a refreshing aura to your place.Many people find it relaxing to see a plant in the middle of the center table, or in any corner of the four corners of the living room.

In this article, we are trying to explain how safe it is to place a Christmas cactus anywhere around your home.Lets try to see if the Christmas cactus is harmful to humans and animals.

Is Christmas Cactus Poisonous To Children or Babies?

Due to its very sensitive features, a Christmas cactus requires an indoor environment. The stems and leaves cannot be exposed to the sunlight. It should only be stored in a room with constant humidity and limited temperature.

Plants have been one of the world’s poison contributing factors inside the home. Many indoor plants have been found to contain toxins that are harmful to the family’s health.

Now, let’s try to look deeply into the issue of whether the Christmas cactus is poisonous.

The good thing about the Christmas cactus toxicity level is zero. You do not have to worry about the bad effect of the plant to your family’s health. This is one of the non-toxin plants that can be placed inside your home.

Infants are also as sensitive as Christmas cacti; will it not be harmful to them?

This plant is absolutely free of poisonous elements. So there is nothing to worry about.

But there are times when small children would ingest it while playing. For precautionary measures, place the plant in an elevated area where children cannot reach it. It may not have any poisonous elements but this is not ideal for human consumption.

Are Christmas Cacti Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?

The usual thing to be considered when taking care of an indoor plant is the harm it can cause to your pets. Some pets are eating Christmas cactus. But no report has shown that they have died because of it.

This answers the question on whether or not the Christmas cactus is poisonous. Cats and dogs find plants and flowers so attractive. Though the Christmas cactus is not harmful, it can still cause vomiting when eaten by dogs and cats.

The best thing to do when you have pets inside the house is to make sure that they cannot reach the plant.

What is harmful in having an indoor plant is the use of fertilizer?

This can actually cause poisoning when ingested. Even the smell of the fertilizers can be unsafe for humans. The best thing to do about this problem is to choose a human friendly fertilizer.

Precautionary measures are still recommended

With the facts presented above stating that the Christmas cactus toxicity level is zero, it is still very important to take extra precautionary measures when you are going to place any plants inside your home.

We should not let our children play with plants by putting it in an appropriate place. Even if it is not fatal for the health of both animals and humans, we should keep in mind that it is still not edible. Eating large amount of these plants can also cause complications to the health.

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