As pet parents, there is nothing more important than keeping our furry loved ones safe and healthy. So important is the health of our pets, in fact, that United States pet owners collectively spend more than $27 billion on veterinary care and over the counter medicines every year.
While we all take great care to keep foods like chocolate, grapes and chicken bones out of paws reach, when it comes to plants and flowers, the dangers are not quite so clear.
According to the ASPCA, there are approximately 400 plants and flowers that can be toxic to dogs if ingested. Some of the more well known culprits include: azaleas, elephant ears, ivy, foxglove, nightshade, morning glory, wisteria, cyclamen, hydrangeas, daffodils and tulips.
With such a long list, committing the name of every dangerous plant and its toxicity level to memory is by no means necessary as a pet owner; however, it is a good idea to be aware of the general signs associated with poisoning from plants.
The most common symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swollen limbs and abdominal pain (your dog may flinch or whine when their underside is touched, especially the stomach). Pets coming into contact with a toxic plant that secretes a milky sap may develop redness, swelling and itchiness on the skin where contact occurred.
Examining your pet’s waste is also an effective way to gauge their health and identify illness, plant related or otherwise. In short: Regular, solid bowel movements are a sign of good health; loose, wet and irregular stools can indicate sickness.
If you begin to notice any of these symptoms in your pet and suspect he or she may have consumed a toxic plant, contact your local veterinarian immediately. The ASPCA also maintains a 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
Sadly, many dogs lose their lives every year due to plant poisoning that could have been avoided. Whether your dog is a young puppy or an old friend, it’s important to always be mindful of the plants kept inside your home and around the yard.
For a full list of toxic plants, visit the ASPCA website (www.aspca.org) and search for “toxic plants.”