Warm weather is here again, and what an exciting time it is! But, before you and your furry friend go running out the door to enjoy the nice weather, remember that there are some important pet safety tips to keep in mind. For example, did you know that everyday you are likely to encounter at least a couple poisonous plants for dogs and cats? It’s true! In fact, in some cases, the very plants that we bring into our homes are the same plants toxic to cats dogs and cats. That’s not good!
But don’t hit the panic button just yet. There are plenty of ways to keep your pets safe from toxic plants, and it all starts with knowing some of the more common threats sprouting out of the ground or living in your flower pots at home. Preparedness is key, and it all starts with educating yourself on the hidden risks.
Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats to Avoid This Season
Keep an eye out for some of the more common poisonous plants for cats and dogs to avoid this spring:
- Sago Palm: Sago palm trees are a common sight in tropical and subtropical environments, but many are surprised to find that they’re actually one of the more toxic plants for cats and dogs. When eaten, the Sago Palm can wreak havoc on your pet. Symptoms are appropriately alarming: Vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea and jaundice are just a few indicators that your pet is experiencing acute palm poisoning. Even with treatment, it’s important to get to a vet right away!
- Azaleas: These spring-blooming flowers come in many types and colors, but there is one thing they all have in common: they’re extremely toxic plants for cats and dogs and should be avoided at all costs! Even the smallest nibble can lead to serious poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, loss of appetite, lethargy and, in extreme cases, paralysis and even death.
- Mushrooms: Wild mushrooms are a danger to any pets who spend a lot of time outdoors. Even though only certain types of mushrooms are actually toxic, it takes a trained eye to be able to spot the difference. Besides, by the time a hungry hound or curious cat gets a surprise mouthful, it’s usually too late for inspection anyway. If you can, however, do try to get a sample of the mushroom to take to your vet to help with identification. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning are abdominal pain, weakness, uncoordinated movements, vomiting, diarrhea and even coma.
- Daffodils: These popular springtime flowers have become a seasonal staple. Unfortunately, they’re also very toxic plants for dogs and cats when they’re ingested. They can cause a range of symptoms such as diarrhea, tremors, vomiting and even cardiac arrhythmias. They might be pretty, but that doesn’t mean they’re harmless!
- Marijuana: Many people are surprised to learn that marijuana is actually one of the most poisonous plants to cats and dogs. The toxic component actually comes from the THC, which is the psychoactive chemical within the plant that causes its mind-altering effects in humans. For animals, however, this chemical cause a number of detrimental effects such as lethargy, low blood pressure, low heart rate, respiratory depression, coma and seizures. Pets can be affected by ingestion of baked foods containing marijuana, ingestion of the plant itself and even secondhand smoke.
- American Holly: Also known as “winterberry,” this shrub features red, orange or black fruit that can be very appetizing (but very toxic) for pets. Found throughout North America, but most prominent in warmer regions, the ingestion of this fruit can lead to outcomes like depression, vomiting and diarrhea. These trees may be common, but fortunately, most animals are naturally deterred from eating their prickly leaves.
- Lilies: Lilies are extremely poisonous plants for cats that should be avoided at all costs! Whether it’s a day lily, tiger lily, peace lily or one of the many other lily varieties, the ingestion of just one or two leaves could lead to potentially deadly kidney failure or other complications. Symptoms of lily poisoning to look out for include loss of appetite, vomiting and drooling. Lilies are a pretty common house plant and owners should be mindful about checking the lily leaves for signs of pet ingestion (chew marks, missing leaves, etc.).
- Oleander: This popular evergreen shrub is found in warm regions throughout the country. Unfortunately, virtually every part of it is also dangerous. Oleander contains naturally occurring cardiac poisons that can gravely affect the nervous systems of cats and dogs, leading to abnormal heart rhythms, nausea, vomiting, seizures and tremors.
- Clematis: Every little bit of this woody vine is toxic to pets. The clematis can be found throughout the country and features thick vines vibrantly colored flowers that range in color from pink to white to red. Once eaten, clematis can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Steer clear of this plant, especially if your pet is known to eat plants.
- Poison Ivy: Humans are well aware of the threat posed to us by poison ivy, but many of us aren’t aware that it also poses a threat to our pets as well. Skin reddening, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea and even that pesky itching can occur when cats or dogs make contact with this plant’s sap. Still, it’s not nearly as common in our furry counterparts as it is in us, and that’s in large part thanks to the extra protection provided by their fluffy coats.
- Tulips: Tulips are a common springtime sight throughout the US, where they pop up free in a variety of bright colors. These cup-shaped flowers are one of the more common poisonous plants to cats and dogs, and the bulbs are an especially toxic part of the tulip. However, the entire plant is dangerous when eaten and can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, drooling, vomiting and even depression.
Protect Your Pet with Pet Insurance
Keep in mind that this list of dangerous plants is by no means exhaustive. In fact, there are literally hundreds of toxic plants for dogs and cats to avoid. Fortunately, most pets naturally avoid most of these dangerous plants, and even if ingested, severe complications can usually be avoided if veterinary assistance is received quickly. Unfortunately, however, that assistance can be pretty expensive. Just look at the averages for plant-related vet bills from PetFirst Pet Insurance’s 2016 claims data:
- Marijuana Toxicity: $650,40
- Plant Ingestion: $215.18
- Toxin Exposure: $711.44
- Sago Palm Ingestion: $3,270.41
- Mushroom Toxicity: $587.98
Pet Insurance can help you keep your vet costs down, but the most effective way to prevent complications from plant poisoning is by knowing what plants are toxic and keeping them out of reach of your dogs and cats. There are all sorts of pet safety tips to learn from, and keeping toxic plants out of reach is really as simple as staying vigilant and informed.