Many springtime plants and flowers are highly toxic for dogs and cats.
Everybody loves springtime flowers and plants but some buds, bulbs, leaves and seeds can be unsafe for our pets. Swallowing any plant material can cause a dog or cat to vomit or have diarrhea so the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Poison Control Center has provided a list of potentially dangerous plants. If you suspect a pet with a plant problem, contact your veterinarian or the 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
Here are some common plants your pets should avoid. Don’t try to teach them what not to chew and why; just keep them safely separated.
Lilies are highly toxic to cats. Eating even small amounts may cause severe kidney damage. Amaryllis are popular around Easter but sampling any part of it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, decreased appetite, lethargy and tremors in cats and dogs.
All parts of the sago palm, a common landscaping plant, are toxic if chewed but swallowing just one or two seeds will trigger vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and liver failure. The bulb portion of tulip/narcissus plants contains toxins that can cause intense stomach/intestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, lethargy, seizures and heart problems. The flowers are beauties. Keep them way out of reach.
Licking or chewing azaleas/rhododendrons can lead to vomiting, drooling, diarrhea and weakness. Severely poisoned pets can lapse into a coma and die from cardiovascular collapse.
It looks like marijuana will become part of New Mexico’s enchantment. According to The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, “Ingestion of cannabis by companion animals can lead to depression of the central nervous system (brain) and incoordination, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.” Don’t play games and share weed with your pets. It just isn’t fair to them.
Chocolate is a high-risk, non-plant toxin. Dogs love biting the heads off chocolate Easter bunnies. The resulting methylxanthine poisoning causes tremors, rapid heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, excessive drinking and urinating, and sometimes seizures and death. Dark chocolate is seven times more toxic than milk chocolate.
I’ve treated poisoning cases in pets and it’s never fun for anybody. Check out a more complete list, with plant photos, at aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control.
Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.