November 8, 2013
By Ed Schroeder
Young dogs and some breeds more than others tend to explore their environment with their mouth. They are fascinated by objects that have an odor or are of a shape they can cut their teeth on or simply chew on. This can be a nuisance when it’s your favorite pair of athletic shoes, but it becomes more serious when you pet chews on toxic plants. Don’t be alarmed if your pet ingests something toxic, but be aware of the possibilities of poisoning in your pet’s environment.
Only a small percentage of the hundreds of poisonous plants are seriously dangerous to pets. The most common signs of poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea and soon pass (pardon the pun). Minor symptoms of poisoning may be treated with home remedies that your veterinarian may prescribe. More serious signs are persistence of diarrhea and vomiting, excessive salivation, gastrointestinal bleeding, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, and coma. If this is the case, call your veterinarian immediately and determine if it is necessary to have your pet examined and treated. If your pet is severely dehydrated, intravenous fluid administration may be necessary.
If at all possible, collect identifying parts of the offending plant for identification. This can result in more specific treatment rather than symptomatic treatment. While many pets do recover from minor poisoning, in the case of serious poisoning, without quick and aggressive intervention, the outcome is often not good. When pets eat poisonous plants, it can result in damage to the heart, kidney, nervous system, and liver, depending on which plants are eaten.
All parts of sago palms are toxic. The sago palm “nuts” are attractive for pets to chew. Many bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, lilies, caladiums, and hyacinths are toxic. Some house plants such as diffenbachia, pothos, and poinsettia can cause problems if chewed or ingested.
The smoke from burning poison ivy or oleander is very irritating to the lungs. Oleander causes irritation to the mouth, stomach and gut.
What to do if your dog or cat is poisoned:
- Remove your pet from the area.
- Check to make sure your pet is safe: breathing and acting normally.
- Do NOT give any home antidotes.
- Do NOT induce vomiting without consulting a vet or Pet Poison Helpline.
- Call Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.
- If veterinary attention is necessary, contact your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
- http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/ (fee based consultation)
- http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/poisonous-plants-resources/common-poisonous-plants-and-plant-parts/ (while primarily for people and children, pets are also affected by plants listed here)
Ed Schroeder is a Retired Veterinarian, Master Gardener and a member of the Leon County/UF IFAS Extension Urban Forestry/Horticulture Newspaper Column Working Group. For more information about gardening in our area, visit the UF/ IFAS Leon County Extension website at http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu. For gardening questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org