Don’t you just love holly bushes and their red berries? Not only are these commonly used during Christmas as decorations, but they can look pretty any time of the year! But are holly berries safe for your dog?
What Are Holly Berries?
Holly berries are found on holly trees and shrubs; the two most common varieties in the US include the American holly (ilex opaca) and the English holly Ilex aquifolium).
These two types of holly bushes are often used in Christmas decorations. The leaves of each are green and spiny and usually are accompanied by lots of red berries.
While holly and the berries can be pretty, are they safe for dogs?
Holly Plants & Dogs
Unfortunately, holly bushes, trees, and their berries are toxic to dogs. Each part of the plant is poisonous if ingested. This includes the leaves, branches, and berries.
If your dog happens to eat any part of the plant, including the holly berries, he will probably become sick. Thankfully, the holly plant will not cause death; however, they can cause digestive problems. And the spikes on the leaves can cause pain and swelling in the mouth if they’re chewed.
Symptoms of Holly Poisoning in Dogs
You may notice these symptoms if your dog ingests any part of the holly plant:
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at the mouth
- Head shaking
- Spots of blood in the mouth
If you know or suspect that your dog has swallowed any part of the holly plant, it’s probably a good idea to call the vet. This is not an emergency, but your dog may require medical treatment.
Treatment of Holly Poisoning in Dogs
Because this isn’t usually a fatal health issue, the vet may give you advice on how to handle this situation at home. They may explain how to induce vomiting correctly. The vet may also have you flush the toxins and plant material out f your dog’s mouth. This will keep further irritation from developing.
After a while, your dog may begin vomiting and having diarrhea. So, be sure to keep some fresh water on hand nearby. If the diarrhea and/or vomiting are concerning, then be sure to call the vet. You may need to take your dog in at that point.
At the vet’s, your dog may receive an IV with fluids to treat dehydration. The vet will also monitor your dog’s vital signs (heart and breathing rates, etc.). They may also treat your dog with activated charcoal, which works to absorb the toxins from your dog’s digestive tract. Your dog may also require anti-inflammatory medication to treat any swelling that may have developed.
Your dog has a very good chance of making a full recovery. However, if he’s determined to eat the holly, then it may be necessary to remove it from that part of the yard he has access to.