Keep Guinea Pigs Safe from Toxic Holiday Plants

holidays

An artificial tree covered in simple lights keep glitter, tinsel, and needles off the floor and away from guinea pigs and other pets.

The holidays are a great time to transform the look of your home with some holiday plants, but do you know which ones can cause problems for your guinea pigs? Health problems can range from mild to severe, even death so it’s best to educate yourself in advance and plan accordingly for a safe and happy home.

Poinsettia
Poinsettias are the most often discussed poisonous plant. According to David Emery Poinsettias got the reputation for being deadly due to a popular urban legend which began in 1919 which was spread due to the unconfirmed death of a child. The truth is the sap of the Poinsettia will only cause nausea or vomiting in humans. However, guinea pigs can not vomit but nausea and discomfort can cause your pet to not eat and that can lead to further complications. Pointsettias don’t pose any airborne risk so they are safe to keep in your home but safely out of reach of your pets.

Mistletoe
The European variety is Viscum Album and the common mistletoe in the US is Phoradendron Serotinum. They have different toxic elements but both types can be deadly. Injesting small amounts in dogs and cats will give them a tummy ache, but the impact on a guinea pig is much greater. Even a small amount can be deadly to cavies for the same reasons stated above.

Holiday Tree
Various types of holiday trees can be mildly toxic but it’s one of the biggest dangers to your cavies because it is so difficult to avoid and causes multiple dangers. Many families are reluctant to let go of the holiday tradition of having a real tree in their home. Any number of chemicals or sprays may have been used on your tree before it was brought into your home. If possible, seek out a tree where the seller can answer questions about the treatment during growth.

Needles fall from the tree throughout the holiday season leaving opportunity for your guinea pigs to find pieces tracked anywhere around your home. The needles are not easily digested by guinea pigs and can cause obstruction or puncture if swallowed. The amount of trouble again depends on how much is consumed.

Also, the tree sap and oils can cause skin irritations to your guinea pigs. Be certain to wash your hands before handling your guinea pigs and encourage guests to do so as well. Consulting Gorgeous Guineas ahead of time and keeping gentle shampoos on hand can help you be prepared if any issues arise.

While it is unlikely that your guinea pigs will show signs of respiratory issues from the short time that a holiday tree is in your home (as with pine and cedar based bedding), issues can arise. It’s best to keep guinea pigs at a safe distance from your holiday tree. If your guinea pigs show sign of distressed breathing, remove your guinea pigs from the area of the irritant and consult your exotic vet immediately.

Some of the signs of illness will be lack of activity, lost of appetite, excessive or lack of drinking, sneezing, heaving hiccups or spasms, and isolation.

Supervising your pet around the holidays in key in keeping them safe especially with guests visiting your home. Fake plants might not be as charming but are a safe alternative if you wish to decorate your home but keep things safe for your roaming animals. Because of the many dangers surrounding holiday trees, we suggest the artificial variety where possible. Contact your exotic vet immediately for specific care advice if your pet has been found to have ingested any toxic plants. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline can be reached at (888) 426-4435 or visit their website for more information.


If you have a great idea for an article about guinea pigs, please let us know. Guinea Pig Today is a network of guinea pig lovers and we’re always looking for the next great story. View our submissions page for more information on how to submit your idea.

Angela, Editor-in-Chief, GPT

Angela founded Guinea Pig Today and guest writes for CavyMadness. She volunteers with Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue and supports the ROUS Foundation. Her guinea pig, Papua, is the star of WHEK-TV/DT.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Keep Guinea Pigs Safe from Toxic Holiday Plants”
  1. Claire says:

    This was all new to me. Thanks GPT. We did find tiny Christmas stockings for the ladies so we’re ready to roll for Christmas!

  2. Amanda says:

    Thanks for the great article! It’s informative and easy to follow. Happy holidays! :o3

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