Porky & Buddy Pet Health – What’s The Truth About Poinsettias?

Dear Porky & Buddy,
I came home with a poinsettia plant yesterday and my house mate went ballistic, accusing me of trying to poison our pets. I tried to explain to her that beliefs about poinsettias being poisonous to pet are sort of an urban myth., but she read somewhere on the internet that they are indeed poisonous and I can’t persuade her otherwise. What do you think?


Dear Don,
As you no doubt know, every thing on the internet is true, right??? And in that vein, did you know that today is national Quit Picking on Poinsettias Day.

Seriously, many people associate the Poinsettia plant with extreme toxicity, but this is an urban legend.

In the early 1900s rumors began to circulate about the poinsettia’s supposed toxicity, some claimed the plant was poisonous if ingested.

Then, in 1919 the poinsettia’s fate was sealed when a story circulated that a two-year-old boy died after eating a poinsettia leaf.

The story was soon revealed as untrue, but the damage was done, and the poinsettia fell out of favor in many households as a home decoration.

Still, some stalwarts insisted that the winter flower didn’t earn this ugly reputation that it had been saddled with.  After all, the plant is a much loved native of Mexico where it grows in the wild to shrub size.

It has been appreciated there for its extravagant beauty for hundreds of years and has never been suspected to be poisonous.

In the 1970s, Ohio State University did a study for the Society of American Florists to come up with the toxicity answer once and for all.

The study proved that the poinsettia plant was, indeed, not poisonous.

They further concluded that if a 50-pound child ate somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 leaves, they would maybe suffer an upset stomach. (So no huge poinsettia salads, really.)

The truth is that apparently the leaves of the plant are nasty tasting, very very bitter, so the chances of any animal or child ingesting them, other than a little experimental nibble, are slim.

And because they taste so horrible, the pet or child then vomits them back up – but that is not poisoning, it is just eating something disagreeable.

But to  this day more than 30 years later, people repeat the same untrue rumor about the plant being deadly poison.

What is true is that the plants, when cut, can excrete a latex like substance that can cause skin irritation.

So if you have a dog who is fanatic about chewing on things, you will want to put it carefully out of reach.

Still, you can bring one home and do so with a clear conscience.

The holiday plants you really do need to be very very careful about are mistletoe, holly and lilies.  All can be quite toxic.

If you suspect your pet has ingested any one of those, call your veterinarian right away.

And speaking of the holidays, the American Foundry  (located at 246 W. Seneca St., Oswego) is hosting a party to benefit the Humane Society on December 22, starting at 8 p.m.

There will be music by the Cortini Brothers with vocalist Tom Ciappa, raffles and a cash bar.  The price of admission?  $3 or a bag of cat or kitten food. Surely your shopping will be done by then and it will be time to chill out before all those relatives arrive.

And speaking of holiday shopping, get yourself something wonderful at the Gifts That Keep on Giving Adoption Day, on December 15, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tractor Supply Company on Route 104 East in Oswego.

There will be lots of teen and adult cats to make your house more festive and your bed more cozy and you can adopt two of them for twice the benefits for the price of one!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides:

Information and referrals, spay/neuter assistance, fostering and adoption of companion animals in urgent need, adoption assistance to families, help with spay/neuter and placement of free-roaming cats, humane education programs.

We do not operate a shelter. We receive no government funds and no funds from any national organization and depend upon the generosity of individuals and businesses for operating support.

You can help by placing your online shopping through www.Igive.com and making your regular search engine www.goodsearch.com and naming the Oswego County Humane Society to receive donations.

Contact us at:
Oswego County Humane Society, Inc.
265 W. First St., Oswego, NY 13126
Phone: 315-207-1070
Email: [email protected]
Web site: www.oswegohumane.org

Because People & Pets Are Good for Each Other