By Amy G. Casey
Protect your pets from poisonous plants that grow in your garden! It’s getting warmer outside and the spring flowers are blooming. You may be thinking of what to plant for summer. but be careful about what you plant – especially if your pets like to chew. Many of the pretty flowers you grow in your yard may be hazardous if your pets eat them. These are some toxic plants that are commonly found in gardens:
Azaleas and Rhododenrons contain grayantoxins, a toxic substance that can cause symptoms including: vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness and lethargy. Severe poisoning can cause heart problems, leading to coma and death. (See also Rhododendrons.)
Castor Bean Castor beans contain a toxin called ricin, a protein that can cause severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, drooling, weakness and appetite loss. Severe cases can cause dehydration, muscle twitches, tremors, seizures, coma and death.
Cylamen plants contain a toxin called cyclamine, but the root of the plant contains the greatest concentration. If eaten, Cylamen can cause stomach problems including vomiting. In rare cases it has been fatal to pets.
This plant can be grown outdoors or indoors in containers. It is a popular houseplant that has cactus-like leaves. Kalanchoe contains components that can cause stomach upset. Some types of the plant have toxins that can seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.
Members of the Lily family can be highly toxic to cats. The poisonous component is not known, but eating small amounts of the plant can cause severe kidney damage.
All parts of the oleander plant can be toxic. The plant contains oleandrin and neriine, which are cardiac glycosides that can cause stomach and intestinal irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.
Some Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. This toxins can result in the following symptoms in animals: vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness and lethargy. (See also Azaleas.)
All parts of Cycas Revoluta (also known as Sago Palm) are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the most toxins. Eating just one or two seeds can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.
If your pet digs in the garden, be careful about planting bulbs. The bulb portions of Tulip and Narcissus contain toxins that can cause intense stomach problems, drooling, appetite loss, lethargy, convulsions and heart problems.
All parts of the Yew tree are highly toxic, except the bright red area surrounding the seed. Yews contain a toxin known as taxine, which causes central nervous system symptoms such as trembling, poor coordination and difficult breathing. The toxin can also cause stomach upset and heart failure.
I write and speak about my passions – including animals, fundraising and travel. My latest project is Pet Health Focus (http://pethealthfocus.com), an online community for people caring for animals. I think of it as the “WebMD” for pets.
A companion book to the pet web site, “Your Diabetic Dog,” deals with the day-to-day care of dogs with this chronic illness, and is due out in 2007.
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