The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center answers the most common questions asked when it comes to gardening and yard care.
What plants are toxic to pets?
Cardiotoxic plants: (affect the heart)
Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley
Nerium oleander, Oleander
Rhododendron, Rhododendron Azalea and species
Digitalis purpurea, Foxglove
Kalanchoe, Kalanchoe spp.
Plants that could cause kidney failure
Lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species, in cats only)
Rhubarb (Rheum species) (leaves only)
Shamrock (oxalis species)
Plants or fungi that could cause liver failure
Cycads (Cycad species such as Sago Palm)
Mushroom (Amanita phalloides)
Plants that could cause multiple effects
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum species) (Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, renal, liver damage and bone marrow suppression)
Castor Bean (Ricinus species) (Can cause renal failure, liver failure, convulsions and death)
ALWAYS assume that any ingested mushroom is highly toxic until a mycologist positively identifies it. Toxic and non-toxic mushrooms can grow in the same area.
What should pet owners do if they suspect their animal has ingested a poisonous plant or mushroom? What symptoms should they look for?
If a pet owner suspects that their animal ingested a poisonous plant, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. It's advised to bring part of the plant to a nursery for identification if the exact species is not known. Symptoms of poisonings can include almost any clinical sign. The animal may even appear completely normal for several hours or days.
Is there a way for pet owners to train or teach their pets not to eat poisonous plants or mushrooms?
A pet owner could train their pets to avoid certain areas of their home or yard where there are poisonous plants. However, the safest method would be to prevent exposure by removing the plants from the pet's home and yard.
What about pesticides and fertilizers that might be in the garage or tool shed?
Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until the time listed on the label by the manufacturer. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer for clarification before using it. Always store pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides in areas that are inaccessible to your pets – read the label carefully for proper usage and storage instructions.
The most serious problems resulting from fertilizer ingestion in pets are usually due to the presence of heavy metals such as iron. Ingestion of large amounts of fertilizer could cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction.
The most dangerous forms of pesticides include: snail bait containing metaldehyde, fly bait containing methomyl, systemic insecticides containing disyston or disulfoton, zinc phosphide containing mole or gopher bait and most forms of rat poisons. When using pesticides place the products in areas that are totally inaccessible to your companion animals. Always store pesticides in secured areas and according to label directions.
For more toxicology tips or to view a toxic and non-toxic plant list, visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's website at www.aspca.org/apcc.