Toxic plants

Is Christmas Rose or Hellebore Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Christmas Rose or Hellebore Toxic To Cats? 

Christmas rose or also known as Lenten rose, Easter rose, and Hellebore is an evergreen perennial which is found to contain cardiac glycosides such as helleborin, hellebrin, and helleborein. Aside from these, this aesthetically pleasing plant also contains saponoside and protoanemonine. All of the said substances are harmful to felines and may cause gastrointestinal symptoms and respiratory and central nervous system depression to them. If ingested, Christmas rose may cause gastrointestinal upset, hypersalivation, mouth and throat tingling, and abdominal pain in cats.

Your cat may have access to this deadly plant because it is widely cultivated as a decorative plant in gardens. It is highly possible for cats to consume enough quantity to cause severe poisoning symptoms if they are not deterred by mouth discomfort.

What Is Christmas Rose or Hellebore?

Hellebore with a cat sitting nearby

The Christmas rose, or Helleborus niger as it is scientifically known, is a winter-blooming evergreen perennial with huge bowl-shaped and gleaming white blooms. These white roses are native to the mountains of southern and central Europe, and they bloom around Christmas in warm winter countries and early spring in colder winter regions. It grows in a bushy, erect cluster that is eight to twelve inches tall on average.

Clinical Signs of Christmas Rose or Hellebore Poisoning in Cats

Hellebore and cats

Skin contact or exposure to Christmas rose can sometimes cause skin irritation. If your cat has ingested a part of Christmas rose, the following are the most common symptoms that he or she may manifest due to poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Tingling sensations in the mouth and throat
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Breathing problems
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Delirium
  • Convulsions
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Paralysis

First Aid and Treatment of Christmas Rose or Hellebore Poisoning in Cats

Cat near Hellebore flowers

If your pet has recently consumed poisonous substances, vomiting will be induced or gastric lavage will be performed to clear the stomach contents, followed by the administration of activated charcoal to absorb toxic components in the gastrointestinal tract and reduce absorption in the gut. Antacids, which coat the gastrointestinal tissues and relieve pain and discomfort, can be used to treat gastrointestinal problems.

In case cardiac symptoms arise, atropine, a drug used to treat heart malfunction, may be given intravenously. If your cat develops respiratory distress, oxygen therapy will be provided. Additional organ functions, such as the liver and kidney, will be closely monitored, and any deficits will be treated as needed.

Recovery from Christmas Rose or Hellebore Poisoning in Cats

If your cat develops respiratory, cardiac, or organ function problems, he or she may require continual medication. Make sure you follow the veterinarian’s recommendations for post-treatment care. The physician may also suggest a particular diet to prevent organ distress in your cat.

Prevention of Christmas Rose or Hellebore Poisoning in Cats

Christmas rose may be unpalatable to cats due to its bitter taste but to prevent another incident of poisoning, it is better to remove this plant from your home and gardens. If your cat ingested the said plant outdoors, you may do some workarounds to keep your cat inside your home to limit his time outside.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

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