Toxic plants

Spring is on its way and along with the sunshine are some springtime garden hazards for your pets you should be aware of.*

  • Azalea/Rhododendron: (Rhododendron spp) Highly poisonous to cats and dogs, even if just a few leaves are eaten.
  • Daffodil: (Narcissus) All parts of the daffodil are harmful. Dogs sometimes eat the bulbs, but even a small bite can kill a small animal. Even drinking the water in which cut daffodils have stood is potentially hazardous.
  • Geranium: (Pelargonium spp) All parts of geraniums are poisonous to both dogs and cats. Also present in summer.
  • Hyacinth: (Hyacinthus orientalis) The bulbs are poisonous to both cats and dogs.
  • Hydrangea: (Hydrangea) Bulbs are toxic to both cats and dogs as they contain cyanide. Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Iris and gladioli: (Iridaceae) All parts of these are toxic, but the bulb is most dangerous as it contains a higher concentration of chemicals.
  • Ragwort: (Senecio jacobaea) All parts of this plant are poisonous, and even small doses can be fatal to cats and dogs. Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Rhubarb: (Rheum) Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to dogs and cats, whether they are cooked or raw. Also present in summer.
  • Snowdrops: (Galanthus) While all the plant is toxic, usually the bulbs are most toxic to pets. Also present in winter.
  • Tulip: (Tulipa) The bulbs are the most toxic, however all parts of the plant can be toxic in large quantities.

All year round plants which are hazardous

  • Aloe Vera: Usually kept all year round as a houseplant, it’s not overly poisonous to pets but can cause diarrhoea if they consume too much.
  • Cherry laurel: (Prunus laurocerasus) This hedging plant is often used in gardens and public parks. Be careful how you dispose of hedge cuttings as the most common cause of dogs being poisoned by the plant is from eating or chewing these leaves.
  • Ivy: (Hedera) Dogs are more likely to eat ivy than cats and it can cause poisoning.
  • Laburnum: (Cytisus alpinus) All parts of this plant are poisonous, but especially the seeds. Even chewing and spitting out laburnum bark or twigs can affect a dog.
  • Oak: (Quercus pedunculata) Leaves can be harmful to pets if eaten.
  • Lilies: (Lilium) All lilies, including Tiger, Easter, Stargazer and Arum, are potentially poisonous, especially to cats. Pets can be poisoned by eating or chewing the leaves, stems or flower heads. Even the pollen can be harmful, as cats may lick this off their fur after brushing against the flower head. Always make sure lilies in the house are kept in a place where your cat cannot access.
  • Philodendron: (Philodendron and related species) All parts of this ornamental houseplant are poisonous. Commonly, pets might chew or eat the leaves, which can irritate the eyes and mouth causing excessive dribbling. Rarely, swelling due to the irritation can prevent breathing and be fatal.
  • Potato: The leaves on potatoes can be toxic to cats and dogs. Raw, green or sprouting potatoes can also be harmful.
  • Sago palm: (Cycas revolute) All parts of this plant are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Tomato: Leaves and unripe fruit on tomato plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Yew: (Taxus baccata and related species) Nearly all parts of the plant are harmful, including dried clippings. Ingesting a small amount of leaves can kill a dog.

*Information taken from PDSA Poisonous plants website article

Remember your rabbits! Although feeding greens and plants to your rabbit adds variety and interest to their diet it is important to remember that some plants can be very harmful if eaten, causing illness or in some cases death.
The following plants are poisonous to rabbits and should be avoided-
Carnation, Buttercup, Foxglove, Clematis, Deadly nightshade, Lobelia, Woody nightshade, Elder, Yew, Rhododendron, Privet, Geranium, Ivy, Lily of the Valley, Lupin and Iris.

This is not a comprehensive list and many more plants can be poisonous to our pets.

Poisons

Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)

During the winter months antifreeze is often used during the cold weather along with screen washes and de-icers. These products contain ethylene glycol or methanol which are poisonous but unfortunately appear quite palatable to our pets.

Pet owners and people who use these products should ensure that they are stored well out of the reach of pets and in secure sealed containers. Numerous poisoning cases especially in cats occur because antifreeze has been left outside for cats to drink in people’s gardens.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Loss of balance/unable to walk properly
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Convulsions/severe twitching
  • Kidney damage

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your cat has been exposed to ethylene glycol. Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of ingesting ethylene glycol but it can take a couple of days before kidney failure is seen. Unfortunately treatment is not always successful and euthanasia can be the kindest option.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Household Products

Chocolate (Theobromine)

Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning in dogs. Generally the higher the percentage of cocoa or the darker the chocolate is the more poisonous it is to dogs. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine and in large quantities this can cause problems with their heart and central nervous system.  Dogs should never be given chocolate as a treat and all chocolate should be kept well out of the way from inquisitive dogs.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • An increase in thirst
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • High temperature and blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm and tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma and death

If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate and you are concerned please contact your vet immediately. Make sure you have the details of the chocolate consumed to hand as this will help your vet calculate whether the amount that has been consumed is toxic or not.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet -Chocolate

Grapes and Raisins

It is not very well known among pet owners that these fruits can be poisonous and many people do give them routinely as treats. It is not known why grapes and raisins can be poisonous to some dogs but it has been found that in certain quantities dogs developed acute kidney failure.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Depression
  • Acute renal failure

You should seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect your dog has ingested a quantity of grapes or raisins and you are concerned.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Grapes and Dried Fruit

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Harmful Foods

Human Pain Relief Medications

Pet owners often give human painkilling medication to their pets in an attempt to relieve pain without seeking advice from a veterinary surgeon. Human preparations should not be given to animals as this is highly dangerous, especially for cats as just one paracetamol tablet is enough to cause severe illness or death. On occasion dogs have been poisoned by ingesting Ibuprofen and other pain relief tablets that have been left within their reach.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding from the gut
  • Severe stomach ulceration
  • Kidney and liver failure

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you have administered or your pet has ingested any human medical preparations.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Ibuprofen

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Paracetamol Poisoning In Dogs

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Paracetamol Poisoning In Cats

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Human Medicines

Lillies

Although lilies are very pretty flowers to look at and have in our gardens and homes, they are extremely toxic to our pets, especially cats. This can include the Easter, Stargazer, Tiger and Asiatic lilies. Kittens can be prone to being poisoned by them due to their naturally inquisitive behaviour and habit of eating things. Older cats are at just as much risk from lilly poisoning when they brush against the flowers causing pollen to rub off on their coats. This is then ingested when they groom themselves. As little as one leaf can cause kidney failure in a cat.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Depression
  • Respiratory problems
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Kidney damage

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lilly. Check the labels on the flowers for warnings of toxicity to animals.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Lillies

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Plants and Poisons

Onions and Garlic

These ingredients regularly feature in our own food but can be toxic to dogs and cats. They contain a chemical compounds which provide the odour and taste we associate with these foods. If your pet absorbs these chemicals it can cause damage to their red blood cells resulting in a life threatening condition called haemolytic anaemia. Any type of onion or garlic product can cause a problem for pets, cooked or not. Poisoning usually occurs after a large quantity is ingested or if repeatedly eaten at regular intervals. Symptoms can be seen within 24 hours but it is more common to occur over a few days.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your dog has ingested onions or garlic and you are concerned.

Rat Bait

This is a relatively common type of poisoning. Typical ingredients include warfarin and bromadiolone. These anticoagulant rodenticides do not produce signs of poisoning for several days after it has been ingested and they cause internal bleeding which can be fatal. The rat bait interferes with the body’s ability to produce clotting factors.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Weakness
  • Pale gums and lips
  • Nose bleeds
  • Bloody urine and faeces
  • Bruising on their body

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your pet has ingested rat bait. Remember to ensure you take the container or details of the ingredients in the bait as this is vital information for your veterinary surgeon.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Rat Bait

Slug/Snail Bait (Metaldehyde)

Metaldehyde, the common ingredient in some slug baits is an extremely serious type of poisoning and is usually fatal without urgent emergency treatment. Pets are attracted to the bait due to the resemblance to kibble.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Salivation
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever
  • Fast heart rate
  • Respiratory failure

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your pet has ingested slug bait. Remember to ensure you take the container or details of the ingredients in the bait as this is vital information for your veterinary surgeon. You should never use slug bait containing Metaldehyde if you have pets.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Slug Bait

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Pesticides and Garden Products