Know Before You Grow
Most of us are familiar with the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat.” Meant to dissuade the prying of nosy people into the affairs of others, it serves as a warning to mind your own beeswax. But for any pet owner, the phrase should be taken literally, as a lot of cats and dogs have a penchant for munching on strange, often dangerous, things. And while we love our fur babies for their playful and inquisitive nature, we must be diligent pet parents, filling our homes and yards with safe, grazable greens. Because who knows when the temptation to taste may arise!
Below are 15 of the most common plants known to be dangerous, even fatal, to Fido and Fluffy, in addition to the symptoms to watch for. But fear not! We’ve also included a list of 10 pet-friendly foliage options, as well as helpful contact information should you find that your pet is showing signs of plant poisoning. Whether it’s grown in the garden or bought from the florist, you can make safe and beautiful plant and flower choices that the whole household can enjoy, without worry!
Plants To Avoid:
- Aloe Vera – It may be great for treating wounds such as scratches and burns but aloe vera can be toxic when consumed by your pet. If you keep a plant on hand for medicinal purposes, be sure to keep it out of reach. Symptoms: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
- Amaryllis – Common in gardens and also as a potted holiday flower, amaryllis are extremely dangerous to both cats and dogs, with the bulbs containing the highest amount of toxins. Symptoms: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia, tremors.
- Baby’s Breath – Used by in floral shops the world over, this sweet and innocent filler flower can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system. Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea.
- Carnations – While not the most poisonous on this list, carnations are ubiquitous in bouquets and other arrangements. Its popularity makes its presence something to be mindful of. Symptoms: Mild gastrointestinal signs, mild dermatitis.
- Chrysanthemum – The smell of chrysanthemum is enough to keep me away, but dogs and cats may still be drawn to it. It’s not likely to cause death, but it is popular and can cause your pet some uncomfortable side effects. In certain cases, depression and loss of coordination may also develop if enough of the plant is consumed. Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation, dermatitis.
- Cyclamen – Often found in decorative pots throughout your grocery store’s floral department, cyclamen have a high concentration of toxic components. Symptoms: Gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.
- Daffodil – As you welcome warmer weather you may also be saying hello to the daffodils, a predominately springtime perennial. But don’t be fooled by its cheerful appearance, as it can be harmful to your pet’s digestive and nervous systems. Symptoms: Vomiting, salivation, diarrhea; large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmias.
- Hosta – Cultivated in the United States to be ornamental because of its tolerance to shade, hosta is also sometimes used as a vegetable in Asian cultures. But it cannot and should not be consumed by your pets: dogs, cats even horses. Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, depression.
- Ivy (California Ivy, Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, English Ivy) – This climbing or ground-creeping evergreen can be found clinging to homes, fences and trees alike. And while it does not appear to be overly appetizing, dogs are known for eating from the liter box and cats from the Christmas tree, so we’ll warn you of its danger, just the same. Symptoms: Vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, diarrhea.
- Lilies (Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, Casa Blanca) – Curiously enough, the gorgeous and fragrant lily does not pose a threat to your pup. But be sure to steer your kitty clear, as members of the Lilium family can cause excretory system issues. Symptoms: Kidney failure.
- Oleander – Oleander may just be the only entry here that is potentially fatal to not only your pets but to you, as well. Purposely planted, as well as naturally occurring, in many areas around the US and the world beyond, oleander offers important ecological and aesthetic values, despite its extremely high toxicity. Symptoms: Colic, diarrhea (possibly bloody), sweating, incoordination, shallow/difficult breathing, muscle tremors, recumbency, and possibly death from cardiac failure.
- Poinsettia – Rumored to KILL YOUR CAT, poinsettias were once believed to be a Christmas lover’s dream and a feline fan’s nightmare. While they are not as harmful as originally thought, consumption of one can cause your pet some minor upsets. Symptoms: Irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing mild vomiting.
- Sago Palm – If you live in a warmer climate or fancy a touch of the tropics indoors, you might have a sago palm incorporated into your landscape or potted as an inside/outside bonsai option. They are apparently very tasty to nibbling animals but are HIGHLY poisonous, if ingested. Symptoms: Vomiting, melena, icterus, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, death.
- Tomato plant – Easy to grow and even easier to enjoy, most people begin their foray into gardening with the planting of tomatoes. And although they probably won’t prove lethal for your pet, they can provide a good dose of discomfort. Symptoms: Hypersalivation, inappetence, severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, drowsiness, CNS depression, confusion, behavioral change, weakness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate.
- Tulips – As with other spring perennials on this list, the tulip or rather the tulip bulb contains a high concentration of pet harmful toxins. This means if your dog (or cat) likes to dig, be cautious and keep a close eye on any freshly planted beds. Symptoms: Intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.
If you believe that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance contact either your local veterinarian or the APCC 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435. Also, be advised that the consumption of any plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats.
So, now that you know which plants and flowers to be cautious of, how can you responsibly fill your home with flora fine for everyone? Well, read on!
Plants To Indulge In:
- African Violet – low maintenance, flourishes without lots of light, blooming and beautiful
- Air Plants – modern, cool and easy to incorporate anywhere
- Christmas Cactus- a safer choice than many other festive plants
- Friendship Plant – perfect to divide and share, enjoy its fuzzy, crinkly leaves
- Herbs – make your culinary creations pop with fresh basil, sage and thyme
- Lace Flower Vine a.k.a. Chocolate Soldier – the ideal hanging basket flowering vine
- Lipstick Plant – quirky flowers, thrives in bright light, loves being outside in the warmer months
- Parlor Palm – the perfect small tree for any budding green thumbs
- Phalaenopsis Orchid – the one you’re most likely to find at your local flower shop
- Spider Plant – loves both pots and hanging baskets, happy-go-lucky, can prosper anywhere
Creating a pet-friendly environment doesn’t have to mean trading in your blooming beauties for silk flowers from the craft store and pots of plastic plant look alikes. The ASPCA has put together an extensive, clickable database allowing anyone to research frequently found foliage and its affects on our beloved animals. Be sure to conduct your own inquiries before selecting any plant, tree or flower for your home. A few conscientious decisions can allow people, pets and plants to all coexist in harmony. And that sounds like just the kind of world we want to live in.
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