Christmas Decorations that Can Make Children and Pets Sick

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Christmas decorations such as plants, ornaments and accessories should be kept out of the reach of children.  Many of them can cause serious illness and even death to a small child or a dog or cat. Taking a few precautions can make all the difference between enjoying the decorations and having the holiday spoiled by illness.

Poisonout Plants

Among the plants that can cause illness are:

  • Azelea, rhododendron, amaryllis, Christmas berry, holly and Jersusalem cherry can cause problems when injected, including nausea and vomiting.
  • Christmas pepper and chrysanthemum can cause burning and skin rashes.
  • Mistletoe if swallowed can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowiness, blood pressure changes, hallucinations and seizure. 
  • Poinsettias may cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms but are not highly toxic.

All of these decoration should be  put out of reach by a child or accessed by a pet.

Decorations to use with caution

These decorations can be dangerous:

  • Angel hair which consists of spun glass can cause severe irritation and pain when it penetrates the skin.
  • Colorful fireplace powers and logs contain heavy metals such as lead which can be dangerous when inhaled.
  • Oil candle lamps that have liquid fuels that if swallowed can cause reactions that require hospitalization.
  • Small tree ornatments, tinsel and icicles are a choking hazard to children and pets.
  • Snow spray can cause damage to the eyes.

Each year the holiday season is spoiled because a child or pet has come in contact or ingested a Christmas decoration. The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy’s Poison Center has poison prevention tips which can be useful in avoiding harmful decorations.


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