The time to strengthen your green thumb is upon us now that summer has finally arrived. A surprisingly large number of common garden and household plants can be toxic to our pets, with reactions ranging from mild to life threatening clinical signs. Not only do you have a great time digging in your garden, but so do your pets! This blog post is dedicated to common plants that may be harmful to your furry friend. This list is not inclusive of all toxic plants, but does cover the most common ones in our region. Remember with any toxin, severity is related to the amount ingested and the size of the animal.
1. Mulch: most mulch is quite safe for pets, however one type that is gaining popularity, is Cocoa Mulch. Cocoa mulch contains theobromine and caffeine, the same products found in chocolate and can be harmful if ingested. Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain, to more serious symptoms such as seizures, coma and death.
2. Lilies: Day Lilies and Easter Lilies are the two main culprits in this category. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause serious kidney problems within 36-72 hours. Cats are especially sensitive to Lily toxicity.
3. Daffodils: if ingested, the primary signs noted are vomiting and diarrhea. More severe signs can result if large amounts are eaten.
5. Tulips: the primary poisonous part of this plant is in the bulb. If you have a dog that digs, please be cautious if planting tulip bulbs. Chewing on the stem and flowering portion of this plant rarely causes any problem, or only mild signs. However if the bulb is ingested, drooling, reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and neurological signs can be noted.
6. Azaleas: the toxins in this plant can cause drooling, diarrhea, vomiting and neurological signs if eaten. More serious signs can result depending on the amount ingested and when treatment is initiated.
7. Baby’s Breath: this may seem innocent enough, but not so innocuous when it comes to your pets stomach. Signs: diarrhea and vomiting.
8. Begonias: the tubers of this plant are the most poisonous part and can cause oral irritation, burning of the mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
9. Onions: if you also have a vegetable garden, onions can be of concern. If ingested, they can cause bleeding disorders which can lead to lethargy, weakness, blood in the urine and pale gums. Garlic and chives are also in the same family of onions and can cause similar signs.
10. Rhubarb: can result in mouth irritation and signs of vomiting and diarrhea.
11. Mushrooms: Most people do not grow mushrooms in their garden, but mushrooms do pop up in yards at this time of year. There are various types of mushrooms, some of which are non-toxic, however others can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and neurological signs.
If you ever notice your pet chowing down on any of the above, you can always contact us to determine what to do next. Another great resource is the Pet Poison Helpline, especially if it is after hours, or on the weekend. This helpline is a 24-hour service that has knowledgeable and trained staff to deal with all types of poisonings. They can determine what steps you need to take next for your pet if poisoning is known or suspected. They also have a great website www.petpoisonhelpline.com with lots of great resources, including numerous lists of poisons.