Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Plants That Can Poison Your Pet

By Suzanne Alicie

The week of March 14-20 is National Animal Poison Prevention Week. There are many items around your home that are poisonous for pets; sadly, many of the pretty plants and flowers we enjoy seeing can be deadly for our pets. National Animal Poison Prevention Week is designed to bring attention to all the dangers that our pets face every day.

Many times animals will naturally avoid dangerous plants, but occasionally the color or scent will attract them to ingest something that could potentially kill them. Removing these temptations from areas that your pet uses and watching carefully when your dog or cat happens to be exposed to plants or flowers that may be harmful can help prevent your pet becoming a victim of poisoning.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center provides a great deal of information on plants and other items that can be poisonous to our pets. While there is a long list of plants that are poisonous to pets which you can see here, there are five plants that have the most potential to create life threatening problems for dogs, cats and other companion animals. Those five plants are:

• Lily - This is a common plant in many yards and flowerbeds, and although they are pretty to look at, lilies are highly toxic for felines. Small amounts of a lily ingested by a cat can cause severe kidney damage.

• Azalea - This flowering shrub contains grayantoxins which cause vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and central nervous system problems in animals. Ingestion of the azalea plant can lead to coma and even death.

• Oleander - While beautiful and elegant, the oleander is very dangerous to your pets. Considered to be highly toxic, the oleander contains cardiac glycosides which affect the heart, and gastrointestinal tract. Ingestion of the oleander plant can lead to abnormal heart function, hypothermia and death.

• Sago Palm - Each part of this plant is poisonous, but the seeds contain the largest amount of poison. If your pet eats one or two seeds from the sago palm he could suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and liver failure leading to death.

• Castor Bean - The castor bean plant contains ricin which is a highly toxic protein causing abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. If your pet ingests a large amount of this plant the result is dehydration, muscle twitching, seizures, coma and death.

If you have plants that are considered toxic to pets in your home or garden, in an area that is accessible to your pets, the safest thing to do is to remove the plants. Even if your pet has never shown any interest in playing with or chewing on plants, it’s far better to remove the temptation than to risk accidental poisoning.

If your pet is exhibiting any symptoms of poisoning such as excessive thirst, unexplained vomiting or diarrhea, confusion, dizziness, seizures or lack of muscle control you should immediately contact your veterinarian. If for some reason you are unable to reach your vet, you can call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: (888) 426-4435. (A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card). You may also call the National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-900-680-0000 or 1- 800-548-2423. When using the 900 number, the charge is $20 for the first five minutes, then $2.95/minute thereafter. For the 800 number, the charge is $30 per case (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express only).

When you call, be ready to provide:

• The species, breed, age, sex and weight of your pet.
• The animal’s symptoms.
• Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved, and the time elapsed since the exposure.

The 5 plants listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when considering the plants that can be poisonous to your pets. Your vet, the ASPCA and the National Animal Poison Control Center can provide you with not only a list of other plants, but also many ways to prevent accidental poisoning of your pets.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie


  1. Great information! Thanks for posting! :)

  2. Great information here. Guinea pigs love to eat flowers and plants, but many are poisonous.


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