The vet’s office: Deadly beauties
Plants that are toxic to your pets
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Spring is in the air, warm weather is coming, and it is time to start planting. However, some common, beautiful plants can be harmful to dogs, cats, and other pets. Many dogs and cats enjoy the greenery and may roll on and chew various plants. If your pet likes to enjoy the great outdoors, you may need to consider what plants you have and what plants you may add.
Tulips, crocus, hyacinths, and daffodils are some of the first greeters of spring, but they are not so friendly if they are eaten. The bulbs are the most toxic part, but the leaves and flowers can cause problems as well. Generally, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common complications, but they can also cause seizures and problems with the heart.
In addition, some edible plants are not always so edible. Rhubarb stems are edible, but the leaves are not. “Sour” starfruit — before it is ripe — is toxic. Both of these can damage kidneys and can cause severe changes with the body’s calcium levels. Shamrocks cause similar problems for pets.
Lilies are popular for their hardiness and aesthetic appeal, but the leaves, stems, and flowers are toxic and can cause kidney damage. Easter, tiger, stargazer, day, and Asiatic lilies are all dangerous.
Azaleas and rhododendrons produce a variety of colored flowers. Unfortunately, all parts of the plant are toxic. These plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea, but they also affect the heart and can lead to depression, coma, and death. Other plants that affect the heart include oleander, foxglove, and lily of the valley. Bushes in the yew family are common for landscaping. However, the leaves, bark, and seeds from the fruit can affect the heart.
Popular house plants such as elephant ears, umbrella plants, philodendron, pothos, Chinese evergreens, dumbcanes, and peace lilies can be harmful. Generally these are associated with oral and intestinal irritation and pain. Plant juices or particles that are inhaled or get in the eye can also cause severe irritation. Sago palms can cause liver failure, seizures, coma, or death with the seeds being the most toxic part of the plant.
In addition to plants, mulch, fertilizers, and insecticides must be used with caution. Many fertilizers and pesticides have warnings on the packaging for proper use around children and pets. Some mulches and edging from trees are treated with chemicals such as arsenic for preservation. Coco bean shells have been used for landscaping. The sweet smell can attract pets. Eating these shells can cause the same toxicity as if they ingest chocolate candy. However, the shells tend to be more toxic than candy.
These are just a few of the more common garden plants. If you are unsure about certain plants, a veterinarian or a poison control center can help.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.