Spring bursts forth in all her glory, enticing us outdoors again to frolic in the sunshine and take in the marvel of blooms and new life. As your pet begins spending more time outside, it’s important that you know of potential hazards that lurk in several prevalent plants and trees. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s (ASPCA) Poison Control hotline receives approximately 150,000 calls annually and estimates that 25% of those calls are due to plant related poisoning.
VIP Pet Services wants to help you prepare a safe environment for your pet. To that end, we’ve compiled an extensive, but not exhaustive list of poisonous plants that may be harmful to your fur baby.
- The lovely Amaryllis, popular around Easter, can be poisonous to dogs if ingested. Its toxins will most likely cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, excessive drooling, anorexia, and tremors.
- Autumn crocus, also known as meadow saffron, is highly toxic to cats and dogs, especially the bulb of the plant. The colchicine in the plant can cause oral irritation or burning, severe and bloody vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, diarrhea, liver and kidney damage, seizures, heart arrhythmias, and respiratory failure. Symptoms may appear immediately, but often take several days post-ingestion to manifest.
- The beautiful azalea plant is extremely toxic. Ingestion of just a few leaves will cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Without immediate veterinary intervention, your pet is at risk for sudden blood pressure drop, coma, and death.
- The entire black locust tree, especially the bark and shoots, is toxic to cats and dogs. If consumed, it can cause kidney failure, weakness, nausea, depression and death.
- The castor bean, also known as castor oil plant, mole bean plant, and African wonder tree, can be very harmful to cats and dogs if accidentally eaten. Though the entire plant contains ricin (a compound that will impede protein synthesis) the bean itself causes the most damage. As small amount as an ounce of beans or seeds will elicit symptoms including loss of appetite, excessive thirst, weakness, loss of coordination, difficulty breathing and central nervous system depression. Eventually symptoms may also include bloody diarrhea, convulsions, coma, and death.
- Cyclamen is a common household plant that blooms seasonally and is known by a host of other names such as sowbread, malanga, elephant’s ears, Texas wonder, angel wings, pink cloud, stoplight, and mother-in-law plant. Whatever you call it, this plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates which are toxic to dogs and cats, especially the roots. Symptoms begin with intense irritation of the mouth, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and diarrhea, and may progress to heart abnormalities, seizures, and death.
- The sunny daffodil contains the element lycorine, found throughout its petals and leaves although it is most concentrated in the bulb. If ingested, any part of the plant is poisonous to dogs and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, arrhythmias, and respiratory depression.
- Dieffenbachia, also known as Charming Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane, Exotica, or Tropic snow, is a popular green plant found is many homes and offices. Insoluble calcium oxalates found in the foliage cause oral irritation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting, if ingested. Contact with the sap from the plant may also cause ocular irritation and damage to the eyes.
- Foxglove contains cardiac glycosides (which are used to formulate digitalis) that are toxic to cats and dogs. Consuming this plant can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, heart failure and death.
- Kalanchoe is another common household plant that bears small, dense flowers. Sometimes called Mother-in-Law plant, the ingestion of the plant will cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in rare cases, heart arrhythmias.
- Larkspur contains compounds called diterpene alkaloids, which are believed to decrease in toxicity as the plant matures. If your pet imbibes the plant, depending on its development, symptoms may be moderate to severe and include muscle tremors, stiffness, weakness, convulsions, heart failure and death from respiratory paralysis
- Lilies are toxic, when ingested, to cats. The Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies can cause some oral irritation with resultant drooling. The highly toxic lilies – Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show, even when consumed in small amounts may be fatal. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney failure. Drinking water from the vase containing lilies is just as toxic to kitty.
- Sweet smelling Lily of the Valley contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures.
- Sometimes called rose bay, Oleander is an ornamental shrub with delicate flowers that is commonly found in the Southern US and California. If pets ingest the leaves or the flowers, the highly toxic cardiac glycosides may cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, incoordination, muscle tremors, suppressed heart rate, difficulty breathing, and death.
- The Rosary Pea goes by many names, including precatory bean, Buddhist rosary bead, love bean, lucky bean, Indian licorice, prayer bean and weather plant. Abrin and abric acid, toxic compounds in the beans are dangerous to dogs and cats. Ingestion of just one bean can be dangerous; however, due to the bean’s hard outer shell, the bean may pass through the gastrointestinal system intact, leading to only mild symptoms, if any. But, should a broken or cracked bean be ingested severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, tremors, increased heart rate, shock, and/or fever may lead to death.
- The Sago Palm, popular in warmer climates, is found in the household as well as the outdoors and is extremely poisonous and harmful to dogs. Symptoms may include bloody vomiting and diarrhea, damage to the stomach lining, bleeding disorders, liver failure and death.
- If your dog likes to tiptoe (or trounce) through the tulips, be aware that ingestion of this plant with its toxic lactones will cause oral irritation, heavy drooling, and possibly vomiting. The bulb of the tulip is especially poisonous and may induce an increased heart rate and respiratory irregularities.
- The ornamental Yew tree, whether English, European, or Japanese contains the highly toxic compound taxine throughout its bark, leaves, and seeds. If ingested by your pet, this tree may cause sudden death. Early symptoms include muscular tremors, labored breathing and seizures. Just playing with the Yew tree’s branches or sticks can be fatal to your pet.
As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it remains sage advice to pet owners. Avoid having any of the above-mentioned plants in your home or on your property. You might schedule a walkthrough of your yard and residence with your favorite VIP Pet Sitter if you’re unsure about any of your foliage. If you do have any toxic plants, make sure that they are far out of reach of your pet. Understandably, you can’t watch your fur baby every minute of every day, and you can’t control what’s grown outside your home or yard. Your pet may come into contact with a poisonous plant. If this happens, quick action on your part may prevent or lessen symptoms and ultimately save your pet.
Even if you only suspect that your cat or dog may have nibbled on a toxic plant call your vet or one of the following helplines immediately:
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435
Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661
Have all of these numbers handy – posted close by your home phone or programmed into your mobile phone.
Now that you’re knowledgeable and prepared for possible plant poisoning emergencies, congratulate yourself. Then get out into the nice weather and enjoy it with your pet!
Poison Point Helpline – https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/basics/top-10-plants-poisonous-to-pets/