Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a plant that you should keep your dog, and all pets, away from.
Poinsettia is somewhat toxic to dogs. In reality, it’s more of an irritant in most cases.
Poinsettia is also a potential risk to cats and other animals.
In short: Poinsettia plants are not an ideal option in a home or garden where you have any pets that could access it.
Why are poinsettias poisonous to dogs?
Many many plants around the world have toxic compounds within them, for various reasons. Mostly it’s an evolutionary strategy for self protection of the plant.
Even though Poinsettia plants have toxic effects on many animals, they actually are not known to be dangerous to humans unless someone has a sensitivity to the plant.
Different compounds and toxins have different effects on different species. So just like some foods are perfectly fine for us to eat, they aren’t OK for dogs and other animals (the onion family being one example).
Poinsettia is a very attractive plant with its brightly colored leaves (actually they are modified leaves called bracts), and this makes them a desirable choice for those who love brightening the home with indoor plants, but they are also often grown outdoors in containers or garden beds.
The Poinsettia produces a milky sap and in times gone by this was thought to be toxic to humans, but there haven’t been any reported deaths of people related to being exposed to any part of Poinsettia plants. A test on rodents found that the leaves were not toxic to those animals either.
The level of toxicity of Poinsettia to dogs is more often than not overstated.
Yes, the plant certainly has a risk of causing illness in dogs. In most cases this will be irritation and discomfort: vomiting, drooling due to mouth irritation, sometimes diarrhea.
It’s the sap of Poinsettia that is the main culprit of negative effects on dogs.
And that doesn’t necessarily involve actually eating the sap, but rather just coming into contact with it.
Irritation from coming into contact with this milky sap can happen on the external area of your dog as well, so skin irritation and itchiness can occur.
Dogs are not known to drop dead from touching Poinsettia plants.
So while Poinsettia has toxic and irritant properties to dogs, you should not panic if your dog has come into contact with or ingested the sap or other parts of Poinsettia.
Monitor symptoms and seek veterinary attention.
The best way to avoid reactions to Poinsettia plants in your dog is to remove the plants from your home and garden, and discourage the exploration of other gardens containing unknown plants when you’re out walking your dog.