What to do when Johnny, Fido or Fluffy eats some of your Christmas Poinsettia!

Has this happened to you?  The house is full of family and friends in a joyful hum of Christmas chaos.  Too many moving parts and yet it all seems to be going along just fine.  Then   …. The “Poinsettia Incident” occurs!

I spent 20 years of Christmas Seasons as an ER doc.  There are certain problems that occur every year, some serious, some not!  The poinsettia incident is one of the ER Christmas traditions.

You know the story, some of the poinsettia is missing and there are poinsettia leaves in places too far away from the once gorgeous Christmas plant to have just fallen off.  Maybe you even found chewed up leaf remnants.  Oh gosh, chances are that it wasn’t any of the adults who have been munching on the poinsettia … so who is the culprit?  One or more of the kids?  The dog?  The cat?  Who was it?  Did they actually swallow any of it, and if so, how much?

We have all heard the warnings about poinsettia poisoning  …  bad for people  … bad for pets.  Here are some facts.  Researchers looked at 23,000 cases of human poinsettia exposure and found:
●  99% were accidental (is that a surprise to anyone?)
●  there were no deaths associated with ingestion
●  92% did not develop any signs or symptoms
●  the majority did not receive any medical therapy or treatment  (well, if  you consider “reassurance” as medical therapy or treatment, then the majority received that)!

So, bottomline … poinsettias are not a problem for people.  I don’t recommend baking with it or putting it in your seasonal salads, but accidental ingestion is not a problem.  Feel free to call your ER or Poison Control Line, but don’t panic!

What about Fido and Fluffy?  According to the Pet Poison Hotline, there is no problem there either.
The pet may develop a skin allergy from rubbing on the plant or an eye irritation if some gets in the eyes.  Ingested poinsettia leaves may cause vomiting or drooling or slight diarrhea but all of these issues are “self-limited” (they will go away on their own).

So, what to do when Johnny, Fido or Fluffy eats some of your Christmas Poinsettia?  Sigh, smile, clean up the mess  … and add it to your list of Christmastime Stories!  Happy Holidays!

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