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Toxic Plants for Pets

It’s a lot of fun to throw a stick and have the dog fetch it to bring it back or to pick a long, strappy leaf to tease the cat but unfortunately, not all plants are safe and some are even deadly.  It’s not necessary to eradicate every plant in the garden but being aware of which are the dangerous ones will help keep them safe.

Of course every house benefits from plants in the garden and around the home and who doesn’t enjoy having a few vases of flowers in the house.  Inquisitive pets and especially puppies and kittens that are teething, love to explore and will, if given the chance, chew on branches and leaves and because it feels good will probably ignore any bitter taste that the plant might have.

The level of toxicity in plants ranges from being deadly to causing stomach pains to mild rashes and mouth ulcers.  The signs evident in a pet of toxic poisoning can also vary but the things to look out for start with irritation to the mouth or skin, depression, lethargy and lack of appetite but of course vomiting, convulsions and spasms require emergency veterinary care.

Pets can be discouraged from chewing on plants by giving them plenty of other more appropriate things to chew on such as bones, ropes and chew toys.  Using a fetch toy or rope is still lots of fun and a young dog should be taught to associate that with a game instead of every stick or bulb in the garden.

Be particularly diligent when working in the garden whether planting or pruning, especially if cats and dogs like to play around you.  It wouldn’t take them long to pick up a stem from a toxic plant or a bulb that hasn’t yet been planted and because you are busy working, you may not be aware until they begin to show signs of being poisoned.

COMMON POISONOUS PLANTS
Lilies are extremely dangerous and will kill cats, and especially kittens, even if just a very small amount is ingested.  All parts of the plant are toxic and all lilies should be considered poisonous.  Signs of poisoning include lethargy, depression and vomiting and if untreated, acute kidney or renal failure will occur and potentially death.  In dogs, eating lilies will probably result in a stomach upset.  A cat that is suspected of ingesting lilies should be taken to the vet or animal emergency hospital immediately.

Bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and jonquils are poisonous to both cats and dogs with the main concern being that bulbs are often confused by pets as a ball to play with.  They might dig it up or find one in the garden shed, toss it around and then start chewing on it, potentially resulting in them being poisoned.

Brunfelsia australis, commonly known as Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, is a very popular hedging plant in WA with purple flowers that fade to white.  As beautiful and hardy as it is, if eaten it can cause muscle spasms and severe convulsions similar to strychnine poisoning and could potentially cause death within just a few hours.  Young animals should be discouraged from being near this plant and when hedging it, every leaf and stem should be discarded.

Blue-green algae affects ponds and stagnant water in the garden in summer and pets should not be allowed to drink from these.  It can cause terrible illness or even death.  Our staff at Better Pets and Gardens can give advice on eradicating algae from ponds and small containers of water should be refreshed frequently.

Rhubarb is a popular vegetable but whilst the stems are completely edible, the leaves are toxic and should not be fed to chickens or even placed in the compost.  It is safest to remove the leaves and put them in the rubbish bin immediately.

The fallen fruit from apricot trees is often left on the ground.  For the health of the garden these should be picked up to discourage pests and diseases but in fact, it is essential for pet owners to collect apricots off the ground since the kernels can be dangerous if dogs chew the seed and manage to crack through to the kernel.

Wandering Jew is a common weed in WA gardens and is often left to grow as a ground cover with garden owners thinking that it is quite attractive.  However, dogs love to walk through and lie in its cool leaves on a hot day but as they do this the sap from its broken stems cause their tummy and legs to get a red, itchy rash.

There are quite a number of popular house plants that are poisonous to pets including members of the ivy family, philodendron and the umbrella plant.  Cut flowers are some of the most toxic of all plants so with this in mind, it is best to be safe with all house plants and vases of flowers.  Keep them out of reach of dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens who are left on their own and who are in the mood for destruction.  Place plants and vases on tables, cabinets or plant holders and if a cat shows any interest in them, perhaps remove them altogether.

TOXIC PLANTS LIST
The list of toxic plants with the capacity to cause anything from rashes to death is extensive but whilst some are shown below, our best advice is to be aware and perhaps be a bit more careful with young animals who are destructive or who see everything as a potential toy.  Just like teaching pets that the road is an unsafe place to be, they can also be trained that there are more appropriate toys than plants, bulbs, seeds and sticks.

Agapanthus (Roots)
Aloe (Leaves)
Angels Trumpet (All parts)
Apricots  (Stem, bark and seed kernels)
Arum Lily  (Spine and bulbs)
Asparagus Fern  (All parts)
Avocado  (Fruit, leaves, bark, seed)
Azalea  (All parts)
Bird of Paradise  (Fruit, seeds)
Caladium  (All parts)
Cape Lilac  (Berries)
Clematis  (All parts)
Cotoneaster glaucophyllus  (Fruit)
Cycads  (Seeds)
Daffodils  (All parts but especially bulbs)
Daphne  (Berries, bark, leaves)
Dumb Cane Dieffenbachia  (All parts)
Foxgloves  (Leaves, seeds, flowers)
Frangipani  (Sap)
Gladioli  (Bulbs)
Hellebore  (All parts)
Hyacinth  (Bulbs, leaves, flowers)
Hydrangea  (Leaves, stems)
Ivy  (All parts of most varieties)
Jonquil  (Bulbs)
Kalanchoe  (All parts)
Lantana  (All parts)
Lily  (All parts)
Lily of the Valley  (All parts)
Lobelia  (All parts)
Macadamia  (Nuts)
Marijuana   (All parts)
Fruit Salad Plant Monstera  (Unripe fruit)
Morning Glory  (Seeds)
Nightshade  (All parts)
Oleander  (All parts, including dead leaves)
Onion  (Bulbs)
Ornamental chilli  (Fruit)
Philodendron  (All parts)
Poinsettia  (Leaves, flowers)
Rhododendron  (All parts)
Rhubarb  (Leaves)
Savin Juniper  (All parts)
Sweet Pea  (Seeds, pods)
Tomato Plants (Leaves)
Tulip  (Bulbs)
Umbrella Plant   (All parts)
Wandering Jew  (Leaves, stems, sap)
Wisteria  (Seeds, pods)
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow  (All parts)
Yucca  (All parts)

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