December 12, 2007,
At this time of year it is the custom to bring plants that are typically outdoors inside.
Natural trees have many advantages over their petroleum based imitators, you can add one more to the list .
Spruce, pine and fir are generally non toxic. Their taste and texture will usually stop a curious toddler or pet from eating more than a nibble. While there is little chance you would eat a spruce tree or make a salad from your fir, there are a couple of plants you should watch out for. Holly and mistletoe are two holiday favorites that should be kept out of reach.
Holly (Ilex opaca) with its glossy foliage and bright red leaves makes an excellent focal point on a wreath and adds a colorful accent to garlands. Unfortunately the berries are toxic to cats and dogs. Holly contains illicin, and triterpenoids, if your pet eats a small amount they may get sick, a large amount, and a trip to the vet will be in order. Keep in mind that a small pet needs only a small amount to become quite ill. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe, (Viscum album) dates back to the days of the Vikings and figured prominently in the death of the Norse God Baldur. This ancient plant has been bestowed with mystical properties. One not so magical property is its toxic potency . If pets eat mistletoe in any amount call your veterinarian immediately for advice on treatment.While I'm being a Grinch on holiday traditions, poinsettia sap can be a potent irritant to your pets mouth. Fortunately carefully washing the affected area is usually all that is needed to alleviate the discomfort.