Pets, especially dogs, love to dig up plants in the yard and chew things when bored, making plant toxicities a real threat for pet owners. There are countless plants that have been reported to be toxic to pets. Most will only cause a transient oral irritation or mild gastrointestinal upset. There are, however, a few extremely toxic plants that can be very dangerous or even fatal to your pet if consumed.
The following plants are very dangerous and should be removed from areas that your pet has access to.
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
This shrub has blue to white flowers and is common in Australian backyards. Ingestion of any part of this plant will be toxic to your pet. Early symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea occur and can rapidly progress into muscle tremors, depression, seizures and even death if left untreated.
The nuts in their shell are a very common cause of gastrointestinal obstruction requiring emergency surgery. The nut itself is also toxic, and will cause transient muscle weakness, tremors and depression.
This plant has attractive flowers ranging from white to pink and red. The entire plant is considered toxic to dogs, with the leaves containing the most concentrated toxin.
Symptoms include topical irritation such as eye inflammation and dermatitis and the development of gastrointestinal disease such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation and abdominal pain. An irregular heart rate and rhythm often develops, with the rapid progression of tremors, depression, seizures and coma, with possible death following in mere hours.
People are often surprised to know that the lily is a toxic flower. As a general rule, all types of lilies should be assumed to be toxic to cats. Ingestion of any part of the plant, including flowers, leaves, stem and pollen, will lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and then to the development of acute kidney failure, which can be fatal despite aggressive emergency veterinary care. The lily plant is exceedingly toxic to cats. Even the peace lily, which is not of the lilium species, is toxic to cats also.
The toxic dose is unknown, but even small bites/licks, or drinking water from a vase with lilies has been shown to be toxic. Symptoms generally develop within two hours of ingestion.
Lucky Bamboo – Dracaena braunii
This ornamental plant is a popular gift for decoration in the home, but it is very toxic to both pets and children, who may ingest part of the plant. Symptoms include development of salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and weakness. The symptoms can go on to lead to kidney and respiratory failure, which can be fatal.
Cycad Palm – Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm, King Sago, Sago Cycad, Japanese Sago Palm)
The Cycad/Sago Palm is an extremely poisonous plant to animals, which unfortunately pets seem to find particularly palatable. Symptoms develop within 12 hours of ingestion and include vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, seizures and the development of liver failure. Recent statistics indicate a fatality rate of up to 50-75% following ingestion. The whole plant is toxic, but the seeds within the pod contains the highest level of toxin.
Rhododendron tree or Azalea shrub
The Azalea is a type of Rhododendron plant. It is a pretty shrub with flowers ranging in colour from white, to pink, orange and red. The entire plant is toxic to dogs and cats, especially the leaves. Symptoms of poisoning commence with salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain and progress to muscle weakness, tremors, cardiovascular system collapse, coma and death.
As a precaution, these plants should be removed from areas of your yard that your pet has access to. You should also exercise care when your dog is out and about.
If you suspect your pet may have eaten a toxic plant:
- remove any remaining plant from your pet’s mouth and from their reach
- look in the mouth for any signs of blistering, redness, pain, salivation
- rinse your pet’s mouth for 10 minutes to remove any plant matter. Bathe them if the plant is in contact with their skin and flush their eyes if ocular contact has occurred. Do NOT put the hose in their mouth as this will cause risk of aspiration and choking.
- Call your vet as soon as possible.
- Identify and if possible bring the plant with you to the vet.