Pets and plants don’t always go together. Some of the most popular house and garden plants and flowers are poisonous to dogs and cats, and several are poisonous to humans as well. Being informed is the best way to protect both your furry friends and your family.
Mushrooms in the yard
Milo and Maggie were Renee and husband Bill’s precious pugs. One fall day the two dogs suddenly fell ill. Milo died the same day. Maggie died a week later.
Renee said her son suggested that the dogs may have ingested something but it took some time before they figured out what it was – poisonous mushrooms in the yard.
“We called in an expert because we wouldn’t have known,” said Renee. “What really shocked me is our yard wasn’t pristine but it wasn’t a junker. We kept it up.”
The yard was full of mushrooms in all shapes and sizes.
“We went out and filled gallon baggies from just our small yard,” said Renee. “I would never have taken (the dogs) out there knowing there was a problem.”
Mushrooms pop up during wet weather, even appearing overnight. The North American Mycological Association says while 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets.
The ASPCA says mushroom toxins are challenging to deal with: They can be hard to properly identify, their range of toxicity goes from minor to deadly, and there can be a delay in symptoms. If you suspect your pet has ingested mushrooms, contact your vet immediately.
The NAMA provides information on the effects of mushroom poisoning.
There’s no product that will kill mushrooms so you must remove them from areas your pets or children have access to.
Plants to avoid
Many plants are not dangerous to pets but there are some that pose a significant risk.
From a cluster of daylilies in the garden to gorgeous bouquets on your kitchen table, delightfully fragrant lilies are a favorite, but they are highly toxic to cats. According to one study, 73% of owners whose cats were exposed to a lily didn’t realize the plant was toxic to their pets.
Lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families, including Easter lily, Daylily and Stargazer lily, are extremely dangerous for cats. The entire lily plant is toxic: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming, or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than three days. Early signs of lily toxicity in cats include decreased activity level, drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Dogs that eat lilies may have minor stomach upset but they don’t develop kidney failure.
Lily-of-the-valley and the gloriosa or flame lily aren’t in the “true lily” or “daylily” families. While they don’t cause kidney failure, they may cause other life-threatening problems if ingested.
The Peace Lily is a popular house plant with green, waxy leaves and a very distinctive flower, which is typically white. The plant contains insoluble crystals of calcium oxalates. When your pet chews on or bites it, the crystals are released and irritate the mouth, tongue, throat, and esophagus. Signs may be seen immediately and include pawing at the face, drooling, foaming, vocalizing, vomiting, and diarrhea.
All parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The toxin, called cycasin, attacks the liver, causing a wide range of symptoms. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and liver failure.
This flowering succulent, a common houseplant, contains components that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and abnormal heart rhythm.
A popular gift during the holidays, the showy Amaryllis contains toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, anorexia, and tremors.
If chewed or ingested, this leafy household plant can cause significant irritation and swelling of the mouth and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Schefflera contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause mouth irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing and intense irritation of the mouth, lips, and tongue.
The bulb portions of tulips and narcissus contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions, and cardiac abnormalities.
Members of the Rhododendron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness, and depression of the central nervous system. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.
Oleander is a common ornamental plant with pink, white, yellow or red flowers that can grow to 12 feet tall. All parts of the oleander plant are extremely poisonous to both pets and people. Even small amounts of the plant can cause severe illness and even death.
African Wonder Tree / Castor Bean Plant
The castor bean plant contains ricin, a protein highly toxic to pets as well as people. As little as one ounce of beans can be lethal. Signs typically develop 12 to 48 hours after ingestion, and include loss of appetite, excessive thirst, weakness, trembling, sweating, difficulty breathing and fever.
Yew contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes trembling, coordination problems and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in sudden death.
Autumn crocus looks like the crocus that blooms in spring but it belongs to a different plant family and is less common. It contains colchicine, which is highly toxic to pets, and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, diarrhea, kidney and liver damage and respiratory failure.
Ingestion of the blooms of this popular autumn plant may produce drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, loss of coordination may also develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.
English Ivy is also known as branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy. Ingestion can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhea.
This is not a complete list of toxic plants. Check the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plants list for those you’re interested in. If you have an animal poison emergency, call the ASPCA 24-hour veterinary diagnostic and treatment hotline 888-426-4435.
Peace lily image by Gabriel Ramos
Amaryllis image by woodygraphs