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Pets and Plants

| December 22, 2011
Pets and Plants

Many house and garden plants contain chemicals that can be toxic to animals. Although most of these plants must be consumed in large quantities to pose serious health threats, it is a good idea to take an inventory of the plants to which your pets are exposed, and to remove those that are dangerous.

Many house and garden plants contain chemicals that can be toxic to animals. Although most of these plants must be consumed in large quantities to pose serious health threats, it is a good idea to take an inventory of the plants to which your pets are exposed, and to remove those that are dangerous. This is especially important in households with kittens or puppies because young animals tend to chew everything they encounter. Furthermore, birds and herbivorous lizards such as iguanas are likely to ingest household plants when they have access to them.

The following is a list of plants which can be poisonous to animals. Only certain parts of some plants carry toxins, and those are noted below. If you have house or garden plants you are unable to identify, you can take samples (leaves, stems, flowers and fruits) to a nursery or Master Gardener Clinic for identification. For more information and for a schedule of clinics, call your County Extension Office (King County, 206-296-3900 and Snohomish County, 425-338-2400)

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic plant, determine the amount and type and immediately call your veterinarian or the closest emergency clinic. Take your pet and a sample of the plant to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Common house plants
When ingested by animals, many ornamental potted plants produce reactions that range from mouth irritations to serious swelling and gastric distress. The following lists common ornamentals which should be kept out of reach of companion animals.

Dieffenbachia, aka Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp.)–common name derived from the acrid sap in the plant that can burn mouth and vocal chords and lead to voice loss. Leaf colors range from dark to yellow green, and are variegated in shades of white or pale cream.

Philodendron (Philodendron spp.)–fast growing plants with leathery, usually glossy leaves which can vary in shape and size.

Mostera, aka Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera spp)–evergreen vining plant with cut or perforated foliage.

Calla Lily, aka Arum or Trumpet Lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)–long-stalked, shiny, pointed leaves that are sometimes spotted white. White or cream-colored spathes on long stems.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)–grown both as potted plant and outdoor ground cover. Lobed dark-green leaves which, in some varieties, are variegated.

Jerusalem Cherry, Winter Cherry (Solanum pseudocarpum)–dark green foliage, with small white flowers followed by small, red fruits that resemble miniature tomatoes and contain toxins.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)–common potted plants used as holiday decorations. Bracts exude milky-sap that is irritating and toxic.

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii or E. spendens)–woody stems with long, sharp thorns. Roundish, light green leaves, and pairs of bright red bracts near branch ends.

Common bulbs
Many garden ornamentals are grown from bulbs that can be toxic if ingested. It is best to store bulbs where they will not be accessible to animals.

Tulip (Tulipa spp.); Daffodil; Jonquil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus); Amaryllis, or Naked Lady (Brunsvigia rosea); Iris; or Flag (Iris spp.); Amaryllis hybrid (Amaryllis spp.)

Garden Plants
Oleander (Nerium oleander)–all parts of plant are extremely toxic

Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.)–toxins in leaves

Yew (Taxus supp./Podocarpus spp.)–toxins in needles, bark, seed

Foxglove (Digitalis spp.); Lily-of-the-Valey (Convallaria majalis); Yellow Oleander, or Yellow Be-Still Tree (Thevitia Peruviana); Deadly Nightshade (Solanum nigrum); Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara); Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus); Wild Calla; Water Arum (Calla palustris); Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata); Milk Bush (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Castor Bean, or Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis)–planted as a summer annual, and has large, shiny seeds that are poisonous. To prevent seed formation, pinch off burrlike seed capsules while they are small.

Toxic seeds in common fruit
The seeds or pits in the following contain cyanide and should never be offered to birds or other companion animals.

Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata); Choke Cherry (Prunus Virginianum); Apricot (Prunus armeniaca); Apple (Malus spp.); Sweet Cherry (Prunus pisium); Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina); Almond (Prunus amygdalus)

Other toxic plants
Mushrooms and Toadstools–names used interchangeably. Although some mushrooms can be consumed safely, it is best not to take chances. The Amanita genus is particularly dangerous (for example, Fly Amanita, Fly Agaric, and Panther Amanita)

Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens)–commonly used as holiday decorations. Care should be taken to keep out of the reach of pets because mistletoe berries can be toxic.

Nettles (family Urticaceae)–hairs on nettles break off and can cause skin irritation when animals rub against the plant. Can have cumulative effect.

English and Black Walnuts (Juglans regia, Juglans nigra)–nutmeats are not poisonous, but the hulls surrounding the nuts contain toxins.

Tobacco (Nicotiana tobaccum)–nicotine is a potent and rapidly acting toxin. Extreme caution should be taken to prevent access to cigars, cigarettes, and pipe tobacco.

Precatory Beans, also called Crabs Eye, Rosary Pea, Jequirity Bean (Abrus precatorius)–bright red seed with black spot that is used in jewelry. Seed is extremely toxic when seedcoat is broken, as it is when the seeds are strung.

Illicit Drug Plants: Marijuana (Cannabis sativa); Jimsonweed (Datur stramonium, D. metaloides, D. arborea); Peyote (Lophophora williamsii); Heavenly Blue Morning Glory (Ipomoea violacea); Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans); Periwinkle (Vinca rosea); and Psylocybin Mushrooms.

Copyright & Credit:
Source: Paws –

Photo copyright and courtesy: chobi capeta – stock.xchng

Category: Feline Articles, Feline Health and Care, Feline Resources

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