The official start date for summer is around the corner! Summer means more time spent outdoors with our family and furry friends. It also means being aware of summertime plants which can be dangerous for our pets. And since many people like to plant gardens to grow fresh food for themselves over the summer, we will also take a look at a couple of garden plants that can be poisonous to pets.
The safest way for plants and pets to coexist is to have only non-toxic plants in your pet’s environment. When that isn’t possible, it is best to know what symptoms may indicate potential ingestion or exposure to a toxic plant. If you ever suspect a plant poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately and take the plant with you to aid in identifying the appropriate treatment for your pet.
Sago Palms can be found in many Florida yards. They are also used as houseplants. Unfortunately for our pets, all parts of the sago palm are poisonous. The seeds or nuts are the most toxic part. Dogs and cats can have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling shortly after eating the plant. Symptoms can progress into lethargy, abdominal pain, weakness, seizures, and death. Liver failure and effects on the central nervous system can be seen 2-3 days following ingestion. The survival rate with aggressive treatment is only about 50 percent.
Most mushrooms are considered non-toxic. Caution should be taken with mushrooms because identification of poisonous ones can be difficult. A wide range of symptoms can be seen from mushroom ingestion: nausea, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, walking drunk, lethargy, tremors, seizures, organ failure, coma, and death. If mushroom ingestion is suspected, treatment will be induced as if the mushroom were poisonous.
Lily of the Valley and Day Lilies
Lily of the Valley contains cardiac glycosides which are also used in some human heart medications. If eaten by cats or dogs, the plant can cause a drop in heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, and sometimes seizures. Less severe symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Treatment may include heart and blood pressure monitoring. Severe cases may call for an expensive antidote to bind to the toxin.
Day Lilies are considered toxic to cats and non-toxic to dogs. Most lilies are toxic to cats. Common symptoms include inappetance, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, inappropriate urination or thirst, seizures, and death. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, supportive care, and monitoring of kidney function.
Freshly picked tomatoes can taste great, which is why people like to grow them in their gardens at home. The ripened fruit of the plant is considered non-toxic to pets; however, the green parts of the plant are poisonous to pets if eaten in large amounts. Signs of ingestion include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, and confusion.
Rhubarb stems are edible by humans. The leaves should not be eaten by humans or pets. The plant contains soluble oxalate crystals with more of these crystals found in the leaves. After the leaves are eaten, the soluble oxalates are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The oxalates then bind with calcium in the body resulting in a drop of the calcium level. Symptoms of this type of poisoning include drooling, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination.
(Photos courtesy of the ASPCA and atDove.)