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Verify: Are poinsettias deadly to pets?

It's a common belief that poinsettias are deadly to cats and dogs, but do pet owners really need to beware?

It’s time to deck the halls, and one of the most popular holiday decorations may have pet owners on alert.

Poinsettias, a symbol of the holidays, also have a bad reputation for being deadly if eaten by pets. The warnings circulate social media, but should the plants really be banned for fear of your fur babies?

According to a store manager Jimmy McClendon, it's a call that Pike Nurseries gets every year.

"We get calls through the season that will ask us, 'my dog just tore the house up, they've gone through all the presents and eaten poinsettias, too,' and they want to know whether it's toxic," McClendon said. "It's such a beautiful plant people always think they're toxic or deadly or one bite is going to kill you."

McClendon said that's not the case, adding the plant's milky white sap may be the root of the widespread worry.

"It's just the sap, it's sticky and hard to wash off and it may irritate the skin a little bit, but it would take a tremendous amount of eating the plants to just make you a little bit sick," he said.

Our team also verified with animal experts.

The ASPCA debunks the rumor, calling the poinsettia a 'misrepresented' plant that is typically over-rated in toxicity.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association's ‘holiday hazards' section on their website, "while poinsettia is not deadly as popular legend would have it, it could still cause an upset stomach if consumed."

The AVMA advises keeping the poinsettia out of reach of curious cats and dogs, but the idea the plants are deadly? That's false.

According to the Pet Poison Hotline, mild signs may include: vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in a mild conjunctivitis (“pink eye” secondary to inflammation). Signs are self-limiting and generally don’t require medical treatment unless severe.