It’s a wonderful thing to have a lush, verdant garden—and to be able to share that garden with our family. But are you endangering your furry family with some of your plant choices? According to The Humane Society of the United States, there are more than 700 plants that produce enough physiologically active or toxic substances which can potentially cause harmful effects in animals. If you have animals in your family, then that’s a lot of plants to have to remember! This is not to say all potentially poisonous plants are deadly, but different types of toxins and toxin levels can cause light to serious reactions ranging from nausea and seizures to coma and organ failure, even death. An animal who has ingested a known toxic plant part should be taken to the vet for examination as soon as possible.
Today we’ll be highlighting some of the more common plants that can cause an adverse reaction in your pets.
Grown for its attractive fronds and unfussy nature, sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is actually a cycad. Despite its elegant appearance, all parts of the plant are extremely poisonous if ingested by pets, with the seeds being the most toxic part of the plant. The toxic principle is cycasin; symptoms include drooling, vomiting, bloody stools, fluid retention in the abdominal area, internal hemorrhaging, jaundice, liver failure, and death. Because of the danger and severity of symptoms, treatment should be sought immediately.
Popular due to its many therapeutic uses, Aloe vera is a succulent that grows natively in tropical regions worldwide. Cultivated as a houseplant or outdoors in mild climates, Aloe vera is grown for its spiky architectural form and ease of maintenance. The gel extracted from the leaves is primarily used topically as a salve to treat burns. Taken internally, aloe is used to treat a host of other medical issues. Aloe contains saponin, a toxin with foaming properties similar to soap that can harm pets if ingested. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, changes in urine color, and (rarely) tremors. In most cases, toxicity is mild to moderate, but in extreme cases, ingestion can be life-threatening because of severe dehydration that can result.
One of the toughest and most forgiving houseplants is ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), the name abbreviated by the nursery trade for convenience. The shiny fleshy leaves and graceful arching habit hold up well in low light and even thrive on neglect, making this a good choice for those with busy lifestyles. The toxic property of calcium oxalate is mildly to moderately toxic if ingested by pets, causing swelling of the eyes, mucous membranes, or skin. In most cases, these and other possible symptoms of vomiting, stomach ache, and diarrhea should resolve themselves.
Some of the most beloved summer flowers, lilies are grown from bulbs, producing dramatic tubular flowers in an endless array of colors and patterns. These beauties can be harmful to pets, depending on the variety. Calla, peach, and Peruvian lilies are less toxic, causing mild symptoms such as drooling or mouth irritation if the plant or bulb are ingested. Others, such as Asiatic, Easter, and tiger lilies are more harmful, with the toxic property being present in all parts of the plant, but concentrated most in the bulbs. Since dogs in particular are known to dig them out of the ground, it’s recommended that bulbs be kept out of reach of their inquisitive paws. Even the pollen or water from a vase can cause poisoning, particularly for cats. Eating just one bulb can result in severe intestinal upset; symptoms include diarrhea, dehydration, drooling, vomiting, and lethargy. In extreme cases, pets can suffer a distended abdomen, jaundice, shock, cardiac imbalance, organ failure, and death.
Doing a simple Internet search before you purchase new plants will help to protect your pets from having to experience pain and illness. While knowledge is important, it’s also crucial to make sure that your pet doesn’t encounter unknown plants unattended. If you need to leave your pet for an extended period of time, it’s best to have a professional watch them to ensure that they don’t get sick from ingesting toxic plants. Our Pet Nannies are all experts in the common toxic plants and will be sure to keep them away from your pets. If you have a busy schedule, give us a call and we will make sure your pets get all the attention they need. Contact us at 734-981-6108 or use our on-line contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.