Your pet’s curious nature often gets him into trouble, causing him to explore weed thickets, storage containers, and open fields where he can come into contact with any number of substances, including toxic plants. Particularly as the weather warms and more and more people are allowing their dogs and cats outside for a bit of fresh air, the possibility of ingesting poisonous plants increases.
The great variety of potentially poisonous plants, shrubs, and grasses can make identification of a toxic substance difficult, unless you have actually seen your dog or cat mouthing or ingesting a particular plant. Both outdoor and indoor plants can be harmful to your pet, with some parts of certain plants being more toxic than others.
Ingesting a poisonous plant can cause a variety of symptoms in your pet including drooling, mouth and gum inflammation, swelling of the trachea and/or esophagus, vomiting and diarrhea, hallucinations, tremors, seizure, coma and death. Some plants will only cause a skin rash, a fairly non-threatening problem, while others, known for their medicinal properties, can induce symptoms similar to a drug overdose, with kidney, cardiac, and respiratory failure.
If you suspect your cat or dog has eaten all or part of a poisonous plant, call your veterinarian immediately or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
The following tables of toxic plants, shrubs and trees are included for reference. You can find more information on each plant species by going to Merck Veterinary Manual websites at:
Toxic Outdoor Plants
Water hemlock, Dogbanes, Nightshades, Jerusalem cherry, Potato stems and leaves, Horse nettle, Buffalo bur, Rattlebox, Purple sesbane, Bladderpod ,Coffeebean, Corn cockle, Milkweed, Day-blooming jessamine, Night-blooming hemlock, Jimson weed, Thorn apple, Yellow jessamine, Evening trumpet flower, Carolina laurel, Ivybush, Lambkill, Oleander, Castor bean, Sorghum, Sudan grass, Kafir, Durra, Schrock, Japanese and English yew, Milo, Broom-corn.
Poisonous House Plants and Ornamentals
American aloe, Chinese evergreen, Barbados aloe, Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, Caladium, Marijuana, Chili pepper, Spider plant, Crocus, Lily-of-the-valley, Cyclamen, Dumbcane, Foxglove, Dragon tree, Poinsettia, Hyacinths, English holly, Kalanchoe, Easter lily, Daffodils, Avocado pear, Philodendron, Mistletoe, Azalea, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Schefflera, Florida arrowroot.
Many items that we use every day in our homes can be dangerous and poisonous to our furry companions. Without knowing what they are, we can be putting our pets in danger of severe illness, even death. The following is a partial list of substances that should be kept far from the reach of our dogs, cats and other neighborhood animals.
Antifreeze, containing ethylene glycol, produces increased thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, panting, loss of appetite, acute kidney failure and possibly death. As little as 2 ounces of anti-freeze can prove fatal to a medium-sized dog within 24 to 48 hours. Smaller felines are even more quickly susceptible to fatal doses of antifreeze. If you suspect your pet has lapped up any antifreeze at all, consider this a veterinary emergency and get her to your veterinarian immediately.
Because of the theobromine, a type of stimulant found in cacao shells, cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to your dog or cat if ingested. It results in restlessness, hyperactivity, panting, vomiting and diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, seizures, coma and eventual death if enough is eaten. While cats are less likely to ingest cocoa bean mulch due to its taste, the toxic symptoms are the same as for dogs.
DEET, or N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, found in insect repellents, was originally developed by the US Army as a pesticide to use during jungle warfare. It can cause tremors, over-excitement, vomiting, and seizures if your dog or cat eats any of it. It can also cause skin irritation if it gets on your pet’s coat and skin.
Acids and alkalis, such as those found in bleach, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and batteries, can result in burns on your pet’s tongue and gums, drooling, holes in the esophagus, stomach, and intestinal tract, severe abdominal pain, sepsis, and eventual death. You need to keep these products locked safely away from both pets and children.
Citrus oils, such as linalool and limonene – found in candles, mosquito deterrents, and room fresheners – produce weakness, drooling, tremors, depression, ataxia (the inability to walk correctly), low blood pressure, fevers and possible death.
Human pain medications, including aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, should never be fed to dogs, unless recommended by a veterinarian. Cats, in particular, are highly susceptible to ibuprofen toxicity and have been known to die from it. This includes products containing those medicines, such as stomach gas reducers and certain antacids. These medicines trigger loss of appetite, bloody vomit, drooling, stomach ulcers, intense pain and drunken behavior.
Petroleum products, including gas, motor oil, kerosene, turpentine, paint thinner, and lighter fluid, result in tremors, breathing problems, coma, seizures, vomiting, respiratory failure and even death if not treated promptly after your pet ingests them. The old farmer’s remedy of treating mange with motor oil has long been proven ineffective, and can also kill your pet.
Mothballs, containing the chemicals naphthalene and dichlorobenene, are toxic to your cat or dog, and if ingested, cause serious illness. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, damage to the liver, blood cells, and kidneys, brain swelling, seizures, coma, and even death. If your pet eats mothballs, you should consider this a veterinary emergency and seek immediate veterinary care.
Other toxins found in your home that can make you pet ill or even cause death include lawn fertilizers, the lead found in paint and golf balls (also responsible for intestinal obstructions in dogs), pine oils found in cleaning products, poisonous pest baits manufactured with arsenic, warfarin, and strychnine, and pennies made after 1982 that contain large amounts of zinc.
Note: If you suspect your pet has eaten any of these plants, products or chemicals, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.