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Protect Your Pets From These Common Plants

Did you know? Certain household plants are toxic to pets, so it’s important for pet parents to check the list and remove any that you may have in the house, in flower boxes, planters on the porch, or in the yard. Animals sniff, then they nibble, and sometimes they dig. They rely on a keen sense of smell to investigate and are attracted to certain scents—just watch a cat respond to catnip (which is not harmful).

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center lists commonly known household plants that do endanger pets. Other resources, such as Hill’s Science Diet has a comprehensive list with several more. We’ve highlighted many of them here.

These are not exotic plants, but common ones that you may already have at home or in the yard.

Check the details on whether it’s the foliage, the bulb, the seeds, the roots, or all parts of the entire plant that can present a potentially serious issue that requires an emergency visit to the vet.

Keep Dogs and Cats Away From These Plants

Amaryllis (see Narcissus)

Found in the garden and in the home, the spring bulb has long been an Easter favorite in white, orange, coral, red, and pink. Caution: Amaryllis species can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia, and tremors in both cats and dogs.

Autumn Crocus

“Autumn Crocus,” also known as Meadow Saffron or Naked Lady, is not actually a crocus, but a Dutch bulb related to the lily family. Appearing in the garden, meadows, woods in small clusters with a pop of color in shades of light purple, the name relates to its springtime cousin. Keep dogs away, as all parts of the Autumn Crocus are highly poisonous and can cause severe gastrointestinal signs in dogs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, etc.). The flower can even prompt liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure, seizures, even death. Experts say that signs may be seen up to several days later.

Azalea (see Rhododendron)

There are over 1,000 species of azelea/rhododendrun. The azalea is smaller and commonly found in yards, gardens, and parks. All parts of the plant are poisonous, even in small amounts if ingested. Signs in a pet include gastrointestinal ones such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or cardiovascular in nature such as abnormal heart rate, heart arrhythmias, weakness, hypotension, and the central nervous system signs such as tremors, seizures, or even a coma.

Castor Bean

Is this one in your garden? All parts of the shrub-like plant, including the bright red seeds, are poisonous to pets and to children. Eating the seeds, which will drop from the plant, may be fatal. The poison in this large-leafed plant is ricin, which can cause abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite in pets. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, and coma.

Chrysanthemum

A very common decorative plant in the daisy family, autumnal chrysanthemums come in all sorts of bright fall colors. You don’t want your dog or cat to nibble on the attractive flowers, which contain pyrethrins that may cause gastrointestinal upset, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Loss of coordination can also occur.

Cyclamen

Pretty in pink, fuschia, white, or red, this popular flowering plant is widely sold in grocery stores and nurseries, especially around the winter holidays. It may be sitting on your windowsill, on a coffee table, decorating the front entrance or a porch. Pet parents should be aware that it does contain irritating saponins, especially in its roots called tubers, that are dangerous for dogs and cats if chewed. This can result in drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.

English Ivy

One of the oldest plants on earth, ivy has been around for millions of years. Fast-growing and invasive by nature, you’ll see it on the forest floor, climbing tree trunks and fences, lining borders and walkways, decorating window boxes and adorning hanging planters. But, it’s not be be ingested, as ivy is mildly toxic in animals and small children.

Kalanchoe

Usually grown indoors as a houseplant in a small container, the succulent is widely available and very popular for its vibrant, long-lasting flowers in yellow, pink, magenta, orange, or red. However, Kalanchoe is mildly toxic to both dogs and cats, causing vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. 

Lilies

Cats and lilies don’t mix; this pretty flower is bad news. These big, showy blooms are classified as highly toxic to felines and even small amounts of the plant can cause severe kidney damage if ingested.

Narcissus

Cousin of amaryllis and daffodil, the Narcissus family contains lycorine, a toxic chemical that is found in the plant’s highest concentration in the bulb. However, eating any part of the plant can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in a dog or cat. These symptoms usually last about three hours. 

Oleander

Pretty, yes. But quite a dangerous plant for pets. All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, experts caution. The plants contains cardiac glycosides with the potential to cause serious effects that include gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia, and even death.

Peace Lily

This plant is found in many homes as it’s a graceful perennial with dark, shiny leaves that adds life to any corner or table space. The Peace Lily is frequently mentioned for its air purifying qualities as well. But, it’s a no-no for felines. It’s less toxic than an Easter Lily, but it does contain calcium oxalate crystals that are released and quite painful if a cat chews or bites into the leaves or stems.

Pothos

Easy to grow in soil or water, Pothos can brighten a dark corner at home because they tolerate low light conditions. Some people have a green jungle of this plant around the house, including kitchens and bathrooms. Keep dogs, cats, and children away, as the leaves will cause irritation to lips and tongue, possibly causing vomiting as well.

Rhododendron (see Azalea)

Ingestion of just a few of the leaves on this flowering shrub, or 0.2% of a pet’s body weight, can be serious. All parts of the showy Rhododendron plant are considered poisonous to dogs and cats alike. Clinical signs are vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation, weakness, coma, hypotension, depression, cardiovascular collapse, stupor, and death if symptoms last beyond a day or two.

Sago Palm

It’s best for pet parents not to bring this potted palm in the home. While all parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous, the seeds that are nestled inside the fronds are highly toxic to pets and easy enough to reach in this low-to-the-ground decorative plant. They contain a toxin called cycasin, which attacks the liver and can even cause liver failure.

Schefflera

Also called Dwarf Umbrella Tree, the Schefflera is a common and popular house plant that’s easy to care for. But, like the Peace Lily plant, it contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, intense burning in the pet’s mouth, plus excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing.

Tulip (See Narcissus)

Everyone knows what tulips look like. The bulbs may be in the garden, cut flowers may be brought into the home. It’s the bulb that causes trouble. In the same family of plant, tulip bulbs contain a toxin known as lycorine, which will cause illness in dogs and cats if ingested. Keep planting projects away from pets and watch that they aren’t digging up tulip bulbs in your ornamental garden borders and displays, even after the season’s flowering.

Yew

Did you know that yews can grow for hundreds of years, gaining impressive height as well? The red fruit berries are dangerous, as are the needles and the bark. The conifer, Taxus spp., contains a toxic component known as taxine, which affects the central nervous system in animals and humans. It can cause trembling, coordination problems, and difficulty breathing. Worse still, it can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

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  • Mark October 5, 2020

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s hard to stress enough the toxicity of lilies for cats. According to Pet Poison Hotline, if a cat walks through pollen that has fallen off a lily it can be poisoned it it licks it paws. There reports of a cat being poisoned by drinking water in which lilies were placed! Thankfully, only “true” lilies are poisonous. Eastern, Tiger and Asiatic lilies are toxic, Calla Lilly, Peace Lilly and the Lilly of the Valley are not going cause renal failure – they might might cause other problems. The Peruvian Lilly which is also used in lots of cut flower bouquets is completely non-toxic to cats (so ask your florist for lots of those). We shared a lot of information from the Pet Poison Hotline if your interested. https://www.petcamp.com/holiday-plants-toxic-to-cats-and-dogs/

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