Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk or letting your cat roam free, many animal owners believe that giving pets plenty of outdoor time is important for their health and for living a happy, fulfilling life. However, pets that spend a lot of time outdoors may also face more dangers than indoor pets. Perhaps one of the lesser known dangers to animals is the existence of certain poisonous plants.
Although there are many houseplants with health benefits for humans, some can actually be poisonous to cat or dogs. Some plants may even be dangerous for both of these animals. In order to keep your pet safe, it’s important to recognize potentially poisonous plants and keep your pet away from them.
Poisonous Plants for Dogs
Dogs and cats are susceptible to toxicity from different types of plants. If you have a dog, here are some common toxic plants to watch out for:
- Azaleas: The leaves of the azalea flower are poisonous to dogs. If your dog eats them, they can suffer from irritation in the mouth, vomiting and diarrhea, and more extreme symptoms such as coma or death in some cases.
- Apples: The leaves, stems, and seeds of apples contain cyanide, which is poisonous to pets as well as humans. This includes crabapples, which often fall to the ground and make tempting targets for animals. If your dog ingests the toxic parts of the plant, they may have dilated pupils, go into shock, and have difficulty breathing.
- Autumn Crocus: Like the tulip, the bulb of the autumn crocus is the most toxic element for dogs. However, it’s wise to keep your dog away from every part of this plant. If they do ingest it, they may experience burning in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and damage to their liver and kidneys.
- California Ivy: The leaves and berries of the California Ivy plant are toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests them, they may experience vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
- Daffodil: Daffodils are another popular bulb plant that is toxic to dogs. If your dog does eat daffodils, they may experience diarrhea, vomiting, pain in the abdomen, convulsions, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.
- Lily of the Valley: Lily of the Valley is a beautiful flower, but it’s also a very dangerous one. If your dog eats this plant, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, a reduced heart rate, seizures, and even death.
- Tulips: Eating the bulb of a tulip plant can irritate your dog’s mouth and lead to excessive drooling and nausea. Although the bulb is the most toxic part of the plant for dogs, it’s best to keep the entire plant away from your dog’s mouth.
Plants Poisonous to Cats
Although cats and dogs are susceptible to poisoning from many of the same toxic plants as one another, it’s important to know which plants are especially bad for cats. Here are some common plants that are especially toxic to cats:
- Azaleas: Azaleas are also toxic for cats. If your cat ingests azaleas, they may start vomiting, experience diarrhea, and even suffer from cardiac failure.
- Black Locust: The leaves, bark, and seeds of this tree are toxic to cats and dogs. In cats, they cause vomiting, difficulty breathing, bloody diarrhea, and even death.
- Chrysanthemum: This popular flower is often associated with Japanese royalty, but it is also toxic to cats. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammation of the skin in/on your cat.
- Iris: Irises are poisonous to cats, with the highest concentration of toxin in the roots. They can cause vomiting, low energy, and diarrhea if ingested by your cat.
- Lilies: Several varieties of lily are toxic to cats. If ingested, they can cause kidney failure, making them very dangerous for cats.
- Marijuana: Marijuana may be legal in several states, including California, but it’s also toxic to cats. If you use marijuana for recreational or medical purposes, be sure to keep it away from your pets. Otherwise they may suffer from depression, lack of coordination, vomiting, low blood pressure, coma, or even death in some cases.
- Tulips: As with dogs, cats will suffer the greatest toxic effect from the bulb of the tulip. If they do eat it, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive saliva production, and depression.
What To Do If Your Pet Eats a Toxic Plant
If your pet has ingested a poisonous plant or is exhibiting symptoms that make you think they’ve eaten something toxic, you can call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661.
You can also see your vet for an emergency visit. If you do, it’s critical that you are able to tell them exactly what your pet ate. If you know what they were eating before they became sick, you can simply relay this information to the vet. Otherwise, you may have to do some detective work.
If your pet is vomiting, it helps to collect a sample in a plastic bag. Your can show this to your vet at an emergency visit and they may be able to get an idea of what your pet ingested.
You can also help to narrow things down by knowing what kinds of toxic plants grow commonly near your area or in your household. By telling your vet what your pet might have been exposed to, they can narrow down the type of poisoning further by evaluating your pet’s symptoms.
Alternative Pet-Safe Plants and Flowers
Many plants are perfectly safe for cats and dogs. Here are some great plants to grow in your home if you have pets:
- African Violet: This lovely purple flower is non-toxic to both dogs and cats, making it a great choice for your home or garden.
- Cacti: While some species of cactus are more prickly than others, some species, like the Christmas Cactus are easy to handle and non-toxic to your pets.
- Orchids: Orchids are a beautiful flower that can be grown indoors. While lady orchids can cause mild irritation for dogs, most orchids are completely safe for your pets.
- Roses: Roses are a very popular plant, both in the house and in gardens around the country. The thorns can be pokey if you or your pet aren’t careful, but cut roses are non-toxic for both cats and dogs.
- Succulents: Succulents are quickly becoming a very popular houseplant because of their lovely minimalist aesthetic and ease of care. Although some varieties of succulent, such as the Jade Plant, are toxic to pets, many are completely safe.
While there are plenty of great plants that are non-toxic to cats and dogs alike, there are also some plants your pets need to avoid. When it doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and stop your pet from eating unknown plants. If your pet does eat something toxic, do your best to figure out what they ate so you can tell your vet.