pet christmas dangers

Can Rabbits Eat Needles from Christmas Trees? And Other Holiday Pet Concerns

Rabbits are naturally curious animals who love to eat throughout the day. This can create some challenges with indoor bunnies during Christmas time. Let’s discuss what you can do to protect your rabbit (and your dog and cat) around the holidays!

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Are Christmas Tree Needles Toxic?

Pine needles are mildly toxic. If chewed on and ingested, they will irritate the mouth and can cause drooling, mild GI upset like vomiting (dogs and cats), and possibly diarrhea. Rabbits have very sensitive GI microflora and if they ingest a lot of pine needles, they can develop severe diarrhea as a result.

If your tree has been sprayed with chemicals like fake snow, do not let your pets ingest any of the needles.

Artificial trees may contain metals in the “needles”, most often aluminum. These can potentially obstruct the GI tract if enough is ingested. The metal parts also pose a risk for perforating or poking holes into the GI tract or oral cavity causing pain and potentially severe sepsis and death.

Can My Pets Drink from the Water in the Tree Stand?

It’s best to avoid allowing them to do this. The stagnant water in the tree stand can have a large amount of bacteria present. There is also a lower risk of algae or mold to grow in the tree stand water which can be toxic.

Are Poinsettia’s Really Toxic?

The white milky substance in the poinsettia is bitter and can cause GI upset like vomiting (dogs and cats) or diarrhea, but it isn’t fatal and severe illness is unlikely.

Are Christmas Cacti Toxic?

The Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera, can cause GI upset if ingested. This is true for rabbits, dogs, and cats. Vomiting (dogs and cats), diarrhea, lethargy, and reduced appetite are possible. Again, with rabbits, this can lead to altered GI microflora and if they develop diarrhea, it can be severe and they should see the vet.

Is Mistletoe Toxic?

American mistletoe, Phoradendron spp, is mildly toxic. It can cause GI upset like vomiting (dogs and cats) and diarrhea. If large volumes are eaten, it can also cause a drop in the heart rate and blood pressure. If any mistletoe was ingested and your rabbit, dog, or cat is lethargic and depressed, you should go to the vet immediately. Most cases are mild GI upset only.

Is Holly Toxic?

2 main types of Holly are present in the US, but only Holly in the Ilex genus is considered toxic (this includes 29 species). The most common holly seen over the winter holidays is llex aquifolium. There are numerous toxins in this plant, but clinical symptoms are typically mild and include vomiting (dogs and cats), drooling, diarrhea, and reduced appetite. Rinsing the mouth with cool water can help remove the irritating toxins and make them more comfortable.

Other Holiday Concerns

Be sure to keep cords from lights out of reach or cover them with PCV pipes to prevent your curious furry housemates from chewing on them and reduce the risk of electrocution and electric burns in the mouth.

Keep tinsel and other linear (string) objects like garland out of reach. If ingested, these can create a linear foreign body in the GI tract and require surgery to correct. This is more common in cats.

Keep glass ornaments out of reach. If any fall and break, they can create cuts on the skin and paws. If ingested, they can cut the oral cavity and the GI tract causing severe issues.

Read more:

9 Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe this Winter

Winter Safety Tips for Rabbits

What foods are toxic to dogs?

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