It's garden season! Time to put on our comfy old “yard” clothes and head into our gardens to weed, plant, clip shrubs, or maybe even pick some radishes or cut fresh flowers. But as we get outside to start our gardening and landscape projects, it's time to get familiar with toxic plants that can be dangerous for our pets. After reading this article you will be able to look around your yard and identify several plants that have the potential to cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, lethargy and even death!
I suggest that all pet owners, gardeners or not, review the comprehensive lists of plants that are toxic to cats, dogs, birds & horses at the ASPCA's website (www.aspca.org) or the Humane Society's website (www.humanesociety.org).
“But I only have a cat, and she doesn't go outside.” Really? Have you noticed all the beautiful Day and Tiger Lily's starting to sprout up along our roadsides? It's so tempting to pick just a few from an isolated spot to put on our table. Don't do it!! Lily's are so toxic to cats, that even the water from the vase can cause severe kidney failure.
“Most pets use their sense of smell and taste to investigate things,” said Ahna Brutlag, DMV, MS, assistant director of “Pet Poison Helpline” (www.petpoisonhelpline.com). “When they come across interesting plants, their first reaction is to smell it, which often leads to tasting it. Pet owners who are aware of poisonous plants can avoid potential dangers that can result in emergency trips to the veterinarian.”
Some of the most dangerous and common summertime plants for pet owners to be aware of are listed below.
English Ivy – Popular indoor and out, entire plant is toxic, especially leaves and berries. Causes abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.
Azaleas – Colorful flowering shrub, entire plant is toxic. Ingestion of just a few leaves can cause serious problems including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling,weakness and even death.
Yew – Common evergreen with needle-like leaves. Bark, needles and seeds are toxic causing trembling, lack of coordination and difficulty breathing. It can also cause severe gastrointestinal irritation and rarely cardiac failure.
Lily of the Valley – A common garden and wild flower, leaves and flowers are toxic. This plant contains cardiac glycosides which can also be found in many human heart medicines. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmia and seizures.
Chrysanthemums – A colorful late summer plant the leaves and stalks are poisonous to household pets. Causing diarrhea, vomiting,poor coordination, hyper salivation and contact dermatitis.
Oleander – Popular outdoor plant that is extremely toxic. Contains cardiac glycosides that decrease body temperature, cause abnormal pulse rate and can cause death.
Hyacinth, Tulip & Daffodils – A welcome sight in the spring, keep these perennial bulbs our of the reach of your pets. Although the plants themselves are safe the bulbs are toxic if your pet digs one up. Can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, depression of the Central Nervous System, and tremors or convulsions.
Lilies – Although a few types are safer than others consider them all severely toxic to cats, especially Tiger, Easter, Day and Asiatic lilies. Ingestion of a very small amount, or even licking the pollen from their fur after rubbing against one can cause kidney damage leading to kidney failure.
Rhubarb – Even though the stalks make some pretty tasty pies, the leaves have the potential to cause kidney damage.
Tomato – A member of the Nightshade family the greenery of this common plant, not the tomato itself, can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, weakness and a decreased heart rate.
We all want to have a beautiful landscape that both humans and pets can enjoy. As a pet owner we want to do all that we can to be responsible and not tempt our animals with a potential toxin. Ultimately, by familiarizing yourself with the plants that are harmful to pets, you'll be able to beautify your home and property safely.