Sunday, December 21, 2014

Are Poinsettias Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

Last year, we did a post on Christmas safety for guinea pigs, which is worth a read if you're one of the many people who celebrate Christmas and you have piggies. In that post, we reviewed safety for different types of Christmas trees, and associated Christmas plants like holly and mistletoe. Poinsettias are another type of plant commonly associated with Christmas that we didn't touch on, so we'd like to talk about them now.
Warning: That's not guinea pig food! Stay away! (source: André Karwath/Wikipedia)
Poinsettias have had a reputation for being highly toxic due to an urban legend about a two-year old kid dying from eating a leaf. The truth is poinsettas are only mildly toxic--not deadly like the urban legends claim. Mild signs of vomiting and diarrhea could occur in pets if they eat enough, and it could be mildly irritating to the skin and eyes with sufficient exposure.

However, unlike other pets, rodents like guinea pigs are unable to vomit, even if they eat something toxic, which could make poinsettias somewhat more of a risk for us than for other pets. Fortunately, the worst thing that typically happens if we eat a poinsettia is an upset stomach. If your guinea pig eats a poinsettia, make sure they are still eating and drinking, and otherwise behaving normally. Call your vet if you notice any behavior changes.

Of course, the best thing to do to keep toxic plants away from us, whether they're mildly toxic or very toxic.


  1. It's good to know that I should not have poinsettias around us.

    1. Humans have to be careful around Christmas with all those interesting new things for us to chew on. :-)