March is Poison Awareness Month, with the third week being National Poison Prevention Week. If you’re the proud pet parent of a dog or a cat, it’s relevant to you. And if you’re taking to heart our advice to walk your dog daily, it’s vital that you learn to recognize plants that are poisonous to dogs or cats so you can avoid them on your walks. Outdoor cats are also at risk from most poisonous plants, especially if your kitty enjoys snacking on wild salads.
Here are the 5 plants that are most dangerous to your pet, and the symptoms they can cause:
#1: Autumn Crocus
These pretty harbingers of fall are also called Meadow Saffron. They are members of the Liliaceae family and contain colchicine. This makes them highly toxic for both dogs and cats, although they need to be eaten to cause poisoning. Symptoms of ingestion are vomiting and diarrhea, while long term complications include:
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Liver and kidney damage
- Respiratory failure
Signs don’t always appear immediately, so if you think your pet has had contact with these plants don’t delay—bring her in to our animal hospital in Apex as soon as possible.
The azalea or rhododendron ingestion causes poisoning symptoms to be visible within a few hours after consumption. The toxin in these plants interferes with the function of the muscles and nerves, and leads to acute digestive problems, drooling, weakness and loss of coordination. While some animals can recover from this after a few days without treatment, this depends on whether they survive long enough to do so. They may also fall into a fatal coma if the poisoning is left untreated.
This attractive houseplant is also called Persian violet and is readily available in supermarkets. The plant contains a substance called saponins that causes irritation to the animal’s system, and even if it’s not actually eaten chewing can result in the poisoning of a dog or cat. This presents with the usual signs of drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, but if your pet manages to consume a large quantity it can cause abnormal heart rhythm, cardiac arrest and death.
Known as one of the most beautiful of all flowers, lilies are also one of the most deadly for cats but are non-toxic for dogs. The flowers contain oxalate crystals, which cause irritation of a cat’s oral and respiratory tissues and can result in kidney failure. Don’t have lilies in your home if you have an indoor cat, and if your outdoor cat showing interest in the plants keep a close eye to make sure she doesn’t display symptoms of poisoning.
Wordsworth’s favorite flower has a deadly side to it in the form of lycorine, an alkaloid that triggers vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and irregular heartbeat. The daffodil bulbs are the worst culprits for pet poisoning and symptoms can become quite severe, so if you see your pet eating anything that looks like a daffodil get to your veterinarian quickly.
These are only 5 of the plants that are poisonous to animals, out of 1,005 on the ASPCA’s animal poison control website. If you think your pet is at risk of plant poisoning, you can call the center 24/7 at 1-888-426-4435. For a $65 consultation fee you can get their advice on how to proceed. Click here for information the ASPCA will need if you call them, or to view our Animal 911 – Poison Info Packet.
Plants poisonous to dogs can be found in a variety of places, but with a bit of knowledge avoiding the most dangerous plants toxic to dogs is not a difficult task. Keep your pet healthy and happy with daily walking and vigilance about plants and other toxins.