For many pet owners, pets are like children, and like children, pets like to explore with their mouths — especially young ones. Many of us completely forget about the hazards that bouquets, houseplants, and outdoor plants can pose to our pets. When we do think about plants poisonous to pets, most of us automatically think “poinsettia.” I can’t tell you how many questions I get about poinsettias and pets. But actually, poinsettias are low on the plant toxicity list; there are many other plants that are much more toxic to your furry friends. I feel it is very important for pet owners to learn which plants are toxic to pets, what to do in case of plant poisoning, and how to keep pets away from toxic plants.
Poisonous Indoor Plants
There are many indoor plants that are poisonous to plants, with symptoms that range from minor irritation and vomiting to tremors, coma, and death. I have listed some of the most common poisonous houseplants, but this is by no means a complete list.
Photo by: Manuel Martin Vicente (Flickr)
Aloe: While aloe is beneficial as a burn treatment for humans, it can cause tremors, depression, vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia in animals when ingested.
Pothos:This very common houseplant can cause burning and irritation of the mouth, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and vomiting in pets when eaten.
Amaryllis: The showy, large blossoms of Amaryllis please the eye and are popular during the winter holidays, but the bulb is toxic to pets and causes salivation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression, and vomiting.
Philodendrons:When you think of a houseplant, this is probably what comes to mind — and probably most of us have one. Unfortunately, it can cause irritation of the mouth, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing in animals.
Mistletoe: Mistletoe, not poinsettias, is the real concern pet owners should have during the holiday season. Even one berry from this plant can kill.
- Poinsettia Plant — Poisonous to Pets?
- Pets and Toxic Plants
- How Much Do You Know About Poisonous Houseplants?
- Safe and Poisonous Houseplants
Poisonous Outdoor Plants
There are many more dangerous plants outdoors for our pets to get into than indoors, unsurprisingly. I can’t begin to list them all, but here is a start. Please note that yews, oleander, and Angel’s Trumpet are some lethal and very common ornamental shrubs, but as pets rarely eat these, I have not discussed them.
Lily of the Valley: One of the most delicate, innocent-looking plants is also one of the most common poisonous plants. Eating any part of this sweet-smelling flower can cause heart dysrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and even death.
Lilies: All parts of these beauties are poisonous to cats; even in small amounts, they can cause renal failure in our feline friends. Watch out when bringing in bouquets with lilies and potted Easter lilies.
Sago palm and other cycads: All parts of these plants are extremely toxic and can lead to death! Symptoms are vomiting, bruising, lethargy, increased thirst, internal bleeding, and liver failure. These may be part of the outdoor landscape in warmer climates or indoor plants in cooler ones.
Photo by: Charles Bell (Flickr)
Azaleas and rhododendrons: These shrubs sport beautiful, large clusters of blossoms in a rainbow of hues — unfortunately, they are also deadly. When eaten, they can lead to vomiting, drooling, weakness, coma, and heart failure.
What to Do if Your Pet Eats a Poisonous Plant
It is important to know the names of your house and garden plants and to know if they are poisonous. Create a pet first aid kit and emergency plan with phone numbers for your veterinarian, after-hours veterinarian, and the Animal Poison Control Center; it is also smart to start a fund for emergency pet expenses. If you see your pet chewing on a toxic plant, remove the plant and rinse your pet’s mouth with water. Quickly call your vet and follow their instructions. If your vet is not available, call an after-hours clinic or the Animal Poison Control Center — but be aware that they charge a fee, so have your credit card handy. Do not induce vomiting, use home remedies, or do anything else before consulting a vet or poison control center specialist!
How to Keep Pets Away from Toxic Plants
The best way to keep your pet from ingesting toxic plants is to not have any. If you have an outdoor pet, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep it away from toxic plants — you will have to decide if allowing your pet freedom is worth the risk. If you must keep a toxic plant in your home, consider hanging it from the ceiling where your pet can’t possibly reach it or keeping it in a room where your pet is not allowed. I personally don’t believe there is a place in my home that a cat couldn’t get to! For both indoor and outdoor plants, you can try repellent sprays, although they aren’t the best option. Outdoors, create a fenced-in area for your pet that does not contain any poisonous plants, or use an electric fence. Additionally, if you have a pet that craves plants, try switching to a diet higher in vegetable fiber; for cats, plant cat grass to nibble on. This may help to reduce your pet’s desire for eating plants.
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