Dogs and cats are very inquisitive. Sniffing, smelling, and usually tasting almost anything in sight. For that reason, we commonly see pets ingest items that are not their food. Plants are among one of the top items a pet will chew on and/or swallow, but are they a real danger? Can plants cause any harm if ingested? Many may not be aware of the unknown dangers that come from ingesting some plants. Certain plants are very poisonous to pets, and can be deadly if left untreated. The purpose of this blog is to inform you of which plants are poisonous, the common symptoms associated with ingesting them, and to give you tips on how to keep your house danger free even with these plants present.
There are several factors to take in account when determining the risk of toxicity to your pet. These factors include what plant was ingested, which part of the plant, how much of the plant, and whether your pet vomited some of the plant. Toxicity levels can range from mildly to extremely toxic depending on what plant your pet took interest in. The most toxic plants to pets would be, Castor Beans, Mistletoes, any type of Mushrooms, all Ivies, and Oleanders. Common types of other toxic plants would be Aloe Vera, Poinsettia, Azalea, Sago Palm, Dumbcane, Carnations, Tulip, Chrysanthemum, Daffodil, all types of Lilies, and Marijuana. Not all parts of every plant are poisonous. Depending on the type of plant, the seeds, leaves, roots, petals, beans, bark, fruit, and stems may all have a different toxicity level. It has been demonstrated in some studies, that if a dog or cat vomits part or all of the plant within 30 minutes of ingestion, it can reduce the amount of toxic effects. We do not recommend trying to force your pet to vomit at home without consulting your veterinarian first.
Diagnosis of toxic plant ingestion is usually based on the information you provide your veterinarian. Sometimes a presumptive diagnosis is made based on your pet’s illness if the plants are present within the home even if you did not see your pet chewing on them. Symptoms of toxic plant ingestion can range from mild to severe and vary based on which plant is the culprit. Therefore, it is always good to identify which plant and which part of the plant your pet could have swallowed. If you are unsure of what kind of plant it is, you can take a picture or better yet bring in a sample of the plant to your veterinarian so they may help identify what it could be.
Symptoms of toxicity usually appear within 30 minutes to 48 hours after ingestion. Some symptoms can include excessive salvation, foaming at the mouth, caustic or burning effect in the mouth or throat, swollen mouth, trouble swallowing, oral sores, anorexia (not wanting to eat), excessive drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinating, lethargy, and skin allergies. More severe symptoms could be sweating/fever, drunken walk, heart arrhythmias, rapid or trouble breathing, painful abdomen, tremors, seizures, acute kidney and liver failure, bone marrow depression, and even death.
If you think your four legged family member may have ingested a toxic plant or if your pet is acting sick and you have toxic plants in your home, please contact your veterinarian and seek medical help right away. Prolonged time between plant ingestion and medical help could worsen symptoms and make treatment more challenging. If you can’t immediately reach a vet, you can call the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline at (888) 426-4435. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A fee of $65 may be charged to your credit card. Identification of the plant is critical. Have the plant itself and if possible the container, package or label available when on the phone or in the veterinarian’s office or the poison helpline. When contacting the poison control center, please also have this information ready:
- Your name, address, and phone number.
- If calling the 800 number, your credit card number.
- The species, breed, age, sex, weight, and number of animals involved.
- The poison your animals have been exposed to, if known
- Information concerning the poisoning (the amount of poison, the time since exposure, etc.).
- The problems your animals are experiencing.
Safe guarding your house for your loved ones is possible. One of many ways of doing so would be to place a fence around your garden. If larger breed dogs are present, a higher fence may be necessary. Another way to protect your pets can be to put plants in hard to reach places, such as hanging from the ceiling, on the top of a shelf, or on a window ledge. Obedience training has also been known to work. Training puppies about what areas are ok and what areas are not ok to play in. Providing your pet with plenty of toys and safe items to chew on can help keep them from nibbling on plants. Outdoor supervision would be necessary if you have one of these plants present in your yard. Of course the only guaranteed way to protect your pet is to eliminate these plants from your pet’s environment.
Here are a few links if you would like to read more on poisonous plants: