If you own houseplants, then chances are that you have at least one Christmas cactus in your home. It is among the most popular houseplants because it is beautiful and, at the same time, easy to grow.
But what if your dog gets its paws on your Christmas cactus and eats a part or all of it?
You may be wondering, is Christmas cactus poisonous to dogs?
The good news is that this popular houseplant is not toxic to dogs, cats, or horses, according to the ASPCA.
The bad news is that your pup may still suffer from some side effects if it happens to gobble up your plant.
Read on for more information about how Christmas cacti can harm canines and what causes pups to munch on plants.
About Christmas Cacti
This is not your typical prickly cactus that thrives in deserts and other hot and dry environments.
Instead, the Christmas cactus comes from the humid tropical rainforests in Brazil.
It is still a succulent plant but with beautiful lilac or pink-colored tubular flowers.
Since it is easy to grow and has a long blooming time, it is a preferred houseplant by many.
Interestingly, there are three different holiday cacti of the same species, but each blooms at a specific holiday (Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter). Typically, the Christmas cacti sold today are of the thanksgiving sort (S. truncata). They bloom from November until early March.
What Do Dogs Typically Eat?
While some pups are picky or fussy eaters, the majority of them will chew on or try to eat just about anything they can get their paws on. This includes plants of all sorts.
Normally, your furry companion will have a diet consisting of well-balanced complete dog food with occasional healthy treats.
While most canines are strictly carnivores, some of them may do foraging and eat plant-based foods as their primary food too. This is especially true for hungry stray dogs. But there are other reasons why they may resort to eating plants of different types too. Read on for the main reasons why your furbaby may be eating plants.
The Main Reasons For Dogs Eating Plants
Dogs, especially young puppies, are naturally inquisitive. When given the opportunity, they will explore any new objects, including plants. As part of the exploration, many pups use their mouths to taste the plants or other things. If they like it, they may go chewing and ingesting it too.
Unfortunately, some plants are highly toxic for canines but commonly grow indoors or in our gardens.
Luckily, the Christmas cacti are not one of them.
A Scavenging Instinct
Canines were domesticated ages ago, but most still have natural instincts to hunt, seek and scavenge.
This may be the reason why your furry companion keeps sniffing for and chewing on everything.
Why Are Some Plants Toxic To Dogs?
Hundreds of plants are known to be harmful or toxic to canines. This is due to different reasons and different toxins which can be found in them.
Eating some plants can lead to mild side effects in dogs, such as stomach upsets, vomiting, and diarrhea. But others can cause serious harm to its kidneys, liver, or overall health and can even lead to death.
This is why dog parents should be familiar with the potentially harmful and dangerous plants that grow in their garden or area and ensure their furry friends stay safely away from them.
Are Christmas Cacti Poisonous To Dogs?
Luckily, neither the flowers nor the leaves or other parts of this popular house plant are toxic for canines.
But this doesn’t mean you should encourage your furbaby to eat your Christmas cactus.
In some cases, pups can suffer from mild to more severe adverse effects if they ingest enough of this plant. Here are the reasons why the Christmas cactus can be harmful to your dog.
How Can Christmas Cacti Be Harmful To Canines?
Even though these pretty plants do not contain toxins that can poison your pup, it is still good to know that ingesting this plant can lead to specific adverse effects in some dogs. Here is what can cause your pup to suffer from such side effects:
The Fiber Can Lead To Stomach Upsets
Plants, including the Christmas cactus, contain a lot of fiber. While some fiber is good for regulating and normalizing your pup’s metabolism, too much of it can lead to various stomach upsets.
Some dogs are more sensitive than others to fiber and can suffer from loose stool, diarrhea, or other stomach problems after eating parts of your Christmas cacti.
Smaller-sized dogs and young puppies are more likely to suffer from such adverse effects after eating your houseplant than adult and larger pups.
There Can Be Pesticides And Herbicides
If you own a store-bought Christmas cactus, chances are that the plant has been treated at some point with pesticides, herbicides, and other potentially harmful and dangerous chemicals for your dog.
Some of these chemicals can lead to severe health issues and toxicity in canines. So, it is best to keep your furry friend away from plants, especially if they have been treated with any chemical.
Some of the most toxic insecticides and pesticides can lead to anorexia, seizures, lack of coordination, increased heart rate, respiratory arrest, and even death in more susceptible dogs.
Your Pup May Be Allergic
Just like us humans, canines can have allergies too. While some allergic reactions are mild and not as worrying, others can be severe and life-threatening. So, monitor your furbaby closely after it has eaten part or all of your Christmas cactus. Look for potential symptoms of allergic reactions, and be ready to rush to the veterinarian if severe symptoms such as anaphylactic shock occur.
Here Are Some Of The Common Allergic Symptoms In Dogs To Watch For
An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to a specific allergen. The most common allergens are proteins from animals, insects, other foods, and plants.
Unfortunately, in some cases, the allergic reaction to a particular substance can lead to severe allergic reactions in dogs and even death if timely emergency care isn’t provided.
Here are the most common symptoms of an allergy to look for in a dog:
- Itchy skin and hives in one area or on the entire body
- Inflamed skin
- Swelling of the lips, ears, eyelids, or face
- Sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
- Difficulty breathing
- A runny discharge from the nose or eyes
- Itchy and inflamed and watery eyes
- Constant itching or licking
- Anaphylactic shock and death (in severe cases)
Suppose you notice that your pup has any of these symptoms or is displaying other unusual behavior after it has ingested your Christmas cactus. In that case, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Make sure to inform them of the dog’s weight, age, and health, as well as the type and quantity of the plant it has ingested. The veterinarian will give you exact instructions on how to proceed.
In milder cases, you will be asked to monitor your furry companion at home, but your vet may ask you to go to the clinic for a checkup and for treatment if needed. Make sure to follow the instructions closely.
The good news is that if you love your pretty Christmas cacti at home, you shouldn’t worry too much if your pup happens to eat some of it.
Like Thanksgiving and Easter cacti, Christmas cacti are not toxic for canines.
Still, they are rich in fiber which can lead to digestive upsets in some pups. Plus, if the plant has been treated with chemicals, this can lead to other adverse reactions in your dog.
In rare cases, your dog may experience allergic reactions after gobbling up your Christmas cactus. In such cases, you should keep a close eye on your pet and call your vet if any of the symptoms persist or worsen over time.
In general, it is a good idea to keep any houseplants out of reach by your four-legged friend, just to stay on the safe side.
Instead, provide it with well-balanced and high-quality dog food, suitable treats, and a lot of love, attention, and play to stay happy and healthy.