We are a nation of animal lovers – did you know that 50% of people in Britain own a pet. At the last count, 24% have a cat, and 26% have a dog.
We all know that our pets love to chew on things – slippers, shoes, furniture etc. And of course they occasionally nibble on plants, maybe attracted by the colour or the smell. But some plants are poisonous to animals and can make them ill – even kill them. The most poisonous part of the plant can vary between the leaves, the bulbs or the seeds. And did you know that even just drinking the water that some of these poisonous flowers are sitting in can make our pets ill.
The best way to keep your pets safe to be aware which plants are poisonous and avoid buying them altogether.
Here is a list of plants that can be dangerous to our pets:
Cats are at great risk from certain types of lilies, e.g. the Lilium or Hemerocallis species, as they are particularly toxic to cats. These include Easter, Rubrum, Asiatic, Day, Stargazer, Japanese and Tiger lilies. The entire plant is toxic - brushing against the pollen (and licking it off the fur) or nibbling on a couple of petals, or even just drinking the water it’s sitting in can be fatal, the cat developing kidney failure in less than 3 days. And don’t forget autumn crocuses are lilies too and just as toxic. The early signs of lily poisoning in cats include drooling, vomiting, and no appetite, followed by dehydration and increased urination as the kidneys start to fail. So it’s best to avoid having any lilies in the house if you have cats, as well as in the garden if your cat or your neighbours’ cats go out there.
If you think your cat has been poisoned, take it to a vet immediately along with a sample if possible of what you believe has been eaten. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear or try to make the cat vomit.
Other plants to watch out for that can make your cat sick if eaten are:
· Autumn Crocus
· Azalea/ Rhododendron
· Dumb cane
· Hyacinth (bulbs)
· Iris and gladioli
· Rhubarb (leaves)
· Sweet pea
Oleander is a very attractive plant with its pink or red flowers and dark green leaves – but it is also a killer. It is the most common cause of animal poisoning in some areas of the USA and it is appearing more in this country, especially in the south of England. Within 30 minutes of ingestion, symptoms will show including drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, tremors and an abnormal heart rhythm. If a dog is suspected of having eaten any of this plant, it is imperative to get it to a vet immediately to have any hope of a good prognosis.
There are quite a few house and garden plants that are toxic to dogs – here are some of the more common ones:
· Amaryllis bulbs
· Asparagus fern
· Conkers and Acorns
· Daffodil bulbs
· Day lilies
· Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)
· Lily of the valley
· Morning glory
· Rhubarb leaves
· Sweet pea
· Tulip bulbs
· Umbrella plant
· Wild Cherry
There are, of course, many plants that are totally pet-safe. Just check before buying that the plants and your pets are a good mix.
Written by Leslie Chetland
10th November 2020