Make your yard and garden pet-safe by steering clear of these five common spring plants.
It’s a cruel trick of nature that some of the most beautiful, colorful springtime plants pose a deadly temptation to the four-legged members of your family.
Before you head off to the garden center to pick out your seasonal blooms, make sure you know which plants present a deadly hazard for your pets.
#1: Tulips and Hyacinths
Tulips contain allergenic lactones. Lactones are derived from chemical compounds and taste a bit like whiskey. Hyacinths contain similar compounds.
It’s the bulbs of these two plants, not the leaves or flowers, which are toxic.
Symptoms of poisoning by one of these plants can include:
- Mouth and esophageal irritation
- Increase in heart rate
- Changes in breathing
There’s no antidote if your pup is poisoned by eating a tulip or hyacinth bulb, and severe symptoms need immediate treatment.
If your pet licks or eats any part of a daffodil – the bulb, plant or flower – she will ingest an alkaloid called lycorine which can irritate the tissues of her mouth and throat and cause excessive drooling.
Lycorine can also trigger a gastrointestinal response like vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea. In more serious cases, heart and respiratory problems can occur. Severe symptoms such as these require immediate attention by a veterinarian.
The variety of lily determines whether it is a relatively harmless or potentially deadly plant.
Non-toxic varieties of lilies include the Calla, Peace and Peruvian. If your pet samples one of these plants, his upper digestive tract may become irritated and he may drool.
Types of poisonous lilies include:
- Tiger lily
- Asiatic lily
- Stargazer lily
- Casablanca lily
- Rubrum lily
- Day lily
- Japanese Show lily
- Easter lily
These toxic lilies can prove deadly for your cat. If kitty swallows even a tiny amount of any portion of these plants, including the pollen, kidney failure can result.
If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily, you should get both your pet and the plant to a veterinary clinic right away. Time is of the essence, so don’t delay.
At a minimum your vet will need to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to bind to the toxin in your cat’s system. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, your pet may also need IV fluids and tests to determine whether kidney function as been compromised.
The variety of crocus plants that blooms in the spring is a member of the Iridaceae family.
Spring crocuses can cause gastrointestinal upset in your pet, typically vomiting and diarrhea.
The crocus that blooms in autumn is known as the Meadow Saffron, and this plant is highly poisonous to companion animals.
If your dog or cat tastes a Meadow Saffron crocus, she can experience severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure. Symptoms of toxicity from this plant can appear immediately upon ingestion up to several days later.
If your pet shows signs of poisoning by an autumn blooming crocus, take her for veterinary treatment right away, and bring along the plant.
#5: Lily of the Valley
Signs your dog or cat has eaten a lily of the valley plant can include:
- Drop in heart rate and/or severe cardiac arrhythmia
The substance in lilies of the valley that is toxic to your pet is called cardiac glycosides. If you think your pet has ingested a lily of the valley, you should get him to your vet for evaluation.
It’s worth noting, too, especially for you avid gardeners out there, that the fertilizer you use on your plants can be just as dangerous, or more so, than the plant themselves.
If you fertilize your lawn and garden in the spring, you should be aware of which types of fertilizer compounds are potentially fatal if swallowed by your pets.
Most fertilizers cause only mild gastrointestinal symptoms if eaten, but there are a few watch-outs including:
Blood meal contains nitrogen which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even serious inflammation of your dog’s or cat’s pancreas. Some blood meal has added iron which can also be toxic to your pet.
Bone meal contains animal bones ground down to powder. This powder is very attractive to many dogs. If your pup ingests a large quantity of bone meal, it can form a very big, very hard mass in her stomach which can obstruct her digestive tract and require surgery.
Rose and plant fertilizers can contain disulfoton or another type of organophosphate. It takes the ingestion of just a tiny amount of disulfoton to kill a good size dog.
Other types of organophosphates, which are also sometimes found in pesticides and insecticides, can cause a range of symptoms from mild to fatal. Signs of organophos-phate poisoning include salivation, tearing of the eyes, loss of bladder and bowel control, seizures, respiratory problems and hyperthermia.
Iron is commonly added to fertilizers. Elemental iron can cause toxicity if ingested by your pet. Signs of iron toxicity include vomiting, bloody diarrhea and heart and liver problems.
Simple Steps for Springtime Safety
Taking a few simple precautions to avoid any plants and fertilizers known to be deadly to pets can prevent a potential tragedy for you and your family this spring.
For more information about how to keep your pet healthy and safe, visit PetPoisonHelpline.com.
You can also reference this handy online resource which contains a comprehensive list – including pictures -- of which plants are poisonous to companion animals and which are safe to have around your home and yard.