Spring has finally arrived! After a lingering winter, many people are eager to get into the garden. But before you start planning your garden oasis, be aware of these pet toxins!
1. Plants and Flowers
Beautiful blooms may be the light of your garden, but bear in mind that most will cause a minimum of GI upset. Some can be fatal if eaten by your pets. The flowers listed below are quite common, as well as very toxic to dogs and cats.
- Two groups of lilies produce different toxicities. True lilies such as Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese lilies are extremely toxic to cats. If your cat eats even a very small amount of these types of lilies, fatal kidney damage can result.
- Other lilies such as Peace, Peruvian, and Calla contain calcium oxalate crystals and cause drooling, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats and dogs.
- We strongly recommend all cat owners keep any lilies out of the home and garden. If your cat eats any portion of a true lily, seek immediate veterinary care.
- Tulips and Daffodils
- If eaten by your pet, this showy springtime bloom can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures, and even heart abnormalities. The bulbs are the most toxic part of these plants.
- Azaleas, Rhododendrons, & Fox Glove
- In addition to causing vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness, these plants can also cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias.
- Sago Palm
- This ornamental plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and liver failure. All parts of this plant are considered dangerous, but the seeds or nuts have the highest concentration of the toxin.
For a complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants, visit ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant Guide here.
2. Fruits & Vegetables
What is healthy for humans isn’t always good for our pets! Be sure to fence off your edible garden area to prevent your dog from eating the following fruits and vegetables.
- Onions, Leeks, Chives, & Garlic (Plants in the Allium family)
- All these vegetables cause damage to the red blood cells, resulting in anemia; however, large or repeated ingestions are usually needed to cause toxicity.
- Tomatoes, especially if unripe, contain a toxin that causes significant gastrointestinal upset in your pet. Ripe tomatoes are less toxic.
- Raw potatoes cause anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cooked potatoes do not usually cause illness.
3. Cocoa Mulch
This sweet-smelling garden product can be very appealing to your dog. Much like chocolate, cocoa mulch can make your pet extremely sick. Symptoms vary depending on the amount of mulch eaten, but may include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, tremors, and seizures. We recommend using natural wood mulch if you have a dog.
4. Spraying Chemicals
Chemical sprays (weed killers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, etc.) in your garden or lawn can be dangerous to pets. Symptoms vary depending on the specific chemicals used and the type of exposure:
- Pets who inhale the chemicals can develop respiratory issues.
- Direct Contact
- Pets who are topically exposed can develop rashes or chemical burns on their paws, skin, or in their mouth.
- Pets who eat treated grass or plants can experience vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, confusion, lethargy, increased thirst, seizures, collapse, coma, or death.
If you choose to use chemical sprays, it’s important to keep pets and kids off the treated lawn for the recommended timeframe (typically 2-3 days). If your pet does walk or roll in a treated area, promptly and thoroughly wipe paws, and bathe them before going inside.
There are many types of fertilizers, and it can be difficult to know which ingredients are toxic to pets. While most will only cause mild GI symptoms, there are a few to avoid, such as:
- If eaten, fertilizers with iron can cause iron poisoning.
- Some use insecticides, pesticides, or other toxic chemicals.
- Organic fertilizers with blood meal, fish meal, feather meal, or bone meal have a very appealing smell to dogs. If they rip open a bag to chow down, the fertilizer can cause a foreign body obstruction, GI upset, or pancreatitis.
As with chemical sprays, keep pets and kids off the newly fertilized area for the product’s recommended number of days.
While compost will help your plants thrive, it can easily land your dog in the ER! Compost often grows a toxic mold. When eaten by your dog, moldy compost can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures. While rarely fatal, symptoms can be severe and often require in-hospital care.
As we enter the wet and warm months of spring and summer, these fungi seem to pop up everywhere! Several types of mushrooms cause toxicities in dogs. Many cause potentially severe GI upset. Others cause neurologic symptoms like weakness, stumbling, disorientation, vocalizing, tremors, and seizures. The most serious toxicities result in liver failure. Symptoms can develop as soon 30 minutes or up to six hours post-ingestion. It can be challenging to identify a mushroom, even for people who study them, so it’s best to promptly remove all mushrooms from your yard.
Spring is a wonderful time here in Minnesota! We hope this information allows you and your pets to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather together – safely! If your pet does get into one of these garden toxins, contact your family veterinarian, or your local animal emergency hospital. If you are unsure if your pet ingested enough of a toxin to be dangerous or if you should seek veterinary attention, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.