Pet Poisoning Prevention: Common Toxic Plants in the Yard and Garden

Springtime is the season for mulching, mowing, and prepping the garden beds, and of course, planting all of those beautiful blooms, shrubs, and edibles. And, because of this, it is also a good time to discuss pet poisoning prevention.

As a pet owner, this comes as no surprise to you – cats and dogs like to chew on foliage. Although grass, which is typically their preference, is relatively harmless (except when it comes to that new rug in the foyer), there are many popular plants that pose serious risks.

Plant Awareness, the Key to Pet Poisoning Prevention

As with any danger, awareness is integral to prevention, whether it come in the form of knowing what foods are potentially toxic or pet-proofing your home.

The first and most important factor in plant and pet safety is doing your research before you bring any plant home. The ASPCA has a helpful and extensive online guide to toxic and nontoxic plants. You are also more than welcome to contact a team member at Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital with any pet toxicity related questions.

The next key factor is supervision. Whenever your pet is roaming outdoors or on a stroll to the park or other natural area, always maintain supervision. You’d be amazed how quickly a curious dog can gobble up something in his path without notice. To prevent this, keep him leashed and within your eyesight.

Toxic Plants to Avoid

Here in Texas, we are able to grow an array of shrubs and flowering plants year-round. That being the case, you will often find both native and nonnative species growing heartily around the neighborhood.

Some of the more deadly of these include:

Oleander – This highly toxic flowering shrub affects the cardiovascular system in cats and dogs, decreasing heart rate and respiratory function, and can result in seizures or heart failure if left untreated.

Jimsonweed, Datura, Moonflower – This large trumpet shaped flower often can be found in ditches and disturbed natural areas (rarely in yards). It is very toxic to almost every species, and attacks the central nervous system and the heart.

Yew – Another plant that affects the heart and nervous systems, as well as brain function, this popular yet poisonous shrub is even more dangerous in that there is no effective antidote to toxicity.

Mountain Laurel – Very common to the southern states, the blooms of this popular shrub attacks the cardiac muscles and nervous system. It is highly toxic to not only cats and dogs but also sheep, goats, and other grazing animals.

Sago Palm – This decorative plant is often found indoors and is quite poisonous to cats and dogs. Ingestion of the leaves, seeds, or cones can result in kidney failure. Since there is no treatment for this toxicity, the prognosis is poor, making this plant particularly dangerous.

Other toxic plants to avoid include lilies, tomato plants and all others in the nightshade family, mistletoe, aloe, and caladium (‘elephant ears’).

If Your Pet Ingests a Toxic Plant

If you witness your pet ingesting a potentially toxic plant, do not wait for symptoms to emerge. Consider this a possible veterinary emergency. If you do not know the plant species, take a sample with you to the clinic.

For more information on how to pet-proof your home and yard, we welcome you to contact us.