Christmas cactus is a very popular plant during the winter holiday season. It is often seen as a gift for giving to family and friends for Christmas. With a home full of family, presents, and now, Christmas cacti, you need to make sure that all of these additional things are safe for your family members, including your dogs.
Let’s dive deep and find out if Christmas cactus is poisonous to dogs before they even enter your home this holiday season.
Dr. Jess explains more about this Christmas cactus question below:
What is a Christmas Cactus?
The Christmas cactus is a plant in the Schlumbergera genus of cacti. [source]
The Christmas cactus (and the very similar-looking Thanksgiving cactus) do not look like your typical-looking cactus.
This cactus has long, segmented or jointed trails of fibrous leaves with billowy drooping flowers that can be beautiful bright reds or pinks in color.
What Do Dogs Typically Eat?
Some dogs are not picky at all about what they eat. They’ll eat whatever you offer them- they’re like vacuum cleaners sucking up anything you put in front of them and then some!
Some dogs are on the pickier side of things. Pickier pups can be harder to properly feed because they just won’t eat any food we give them. Try feeding a picky dog something like okra!
A common canine diet for pet dogs consists of a complete dry or wet feed and possibly some form of supplements in some specific cases (however, not all pet dogs need supplements).
Foraging can also be included in the diet if the dog is allowed to roam, or the dog is feral, and of course there are treats that are a part of many dog’s diets!
The diet of every dog breed will very when you are looking into a healthy and complete diet for your pup. So it is important to know when offering food to your dog, what constitutes a healthy choice, and what does not.
An improper diet could put your dog at risk of having problems properly digesting their food and absorbing nutrients correctly. And we don’t want that now do we???
So let’s talk specifically about mayo, since that’s why you clicked over here today, and talk about how it could affect your dog’s overall health and well-being.
Why Do Dogs Eat Plants?
Reason #1: Dogs are by nature very curious. Sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them.
So if you have a new, odd-looking and unfamiliar plant comes into their world, they are likely going to investigate it.
With some dogs, they simply cannot stand not being able to test out new things in their life, espcially taste-testing.
So your dog may be taste-testing your Christmas cactus to try and figure out what this new plant is.
Likely, they will taste it, decide that it doesn’t taste amazing, and leave the rest of it alone.
Some dogs will continue to taste-test, and the plant will need to be moved so that your dog can no longer get to it and eat more of it.
Reason #2: Another part of a dog’s natural being, is their affinity to scavenge.
Many dogs like to hunt things down, scavenge, seek, and search.
Whether it is their favorite toy, the best stick in the forest, or they’re hungry for their food bowl to be filled at dinnertime and need a snack in the meantime, some dogs have a natural tenacity to find things to play with, to snack on, or to “collect” for later.
This may just happen to be your Christmas cactus at the moment.
What Makes Some Plants Toxic to Dogs?
This is a hard question to answer because each plant is different.
Some plants contain toxic substances that can make your dog sick in different ways depending on where the chemical takes effect.
Sometimes the liver is affected, other times it is the kidneys, and others affect the circulatory system or a multitude of other body systems are affected.
If you are worried or concerned over a specific plant’s toxicity, contact your local vet immediately.
Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?
No, Christmas cacti are not poisonous to dogs. This plant does not contain any toxic ingredients.
But just because a Christmas cactus is non-toxic to your dog, does not mean that eating Christmas cactus won’t give them any trouble, because it can.
Can Christmas Cacti Be Harmful to Dogs?
Now that we’ve decided that Christmas cactus is non-toxic for dogs to ingest, we need to understand some of the risks involved if they do happen to grab a taste.
You should keep these three factors in mind:
Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea/Upset Stomach
Too much fiber from munching on the Christmas cactus leaves, can mean hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.
Some dogs are more sensitive to additional fiber in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.
Other dogs will not be impacted by any additional fiber in their diets.
Harmful Reason #2: Pesticides
Many store-bought plants have pesticide products on them to keep the plant free from pests/bugs. Some plants also have chemical sprays applied on them to decrease fungal growth, chemicals that you don’t want your dog in contact with, and definitely not ingesting.
Any of these ingredients, artificial or not, can be cause for an allergic reaction or upset stomach. Anything that your dog puts in their mouth and consumes is fair game for an allergic reaction.
Harmful Reason #3: Allergic Reaction to Plants
A dog can develop an intolerance or an allergy to anything that they ingest, so there is always the possibility that your dog is allergic to Christmas cacti.
If you suspect your dog is allergic to this plant do NOT allow your dog to feast upon this plant and contact your local veterinarian immediately.
If your dog is allergic to Christmas cacti and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
If your dog is allergic and the plant is ingested, the dog’s body may treat the ingested plant as a severe allergen and attack it, using the dog’s own immune system.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to foods:
- Itching/Increased grooming
Christmas cactus is non-toxic to dogs, meaning that the plant itself does not contain any materials that are deemed toxic to dogs.
But just because this popular winter plant is non-toxic, does not mean that if your dog consumes this plant, that they will not show any negative signs.
There is a list of signs and symptoms that may help indicate that the Christmas cactus that your dog ate is not sitting well with them.
And as always, if your dog shows any adverse signs after ingesting Christmas cacti, contact your veterinarian immediately.