What Plants Are Toxic to My Pet?
Keep indoor and outdoor pets safe from toxic plants.
It can be amusing to observe your pet munching on a a clump of grass in the backyard, but if you see your cat eating grass, you probably also know that he or she is probably about to throw up. Cats lack the necessary enzymes to break down vegetation like grass, but often graze on it to purposely rid their digestive tract of fur, parasites or bones from any prey they may have been lucky enough to catch. Dogs eat grass too, but are less likely to vomit from ingesting it. (If a dog is eating grass on a regular basis, you may want to check with your vet to see if he or she is getting enough fiber.)
But while eating grass is fairly harmless habit for both dogs and cats, there are some plants that can be toxic to pets. So whether your pet roams the backyard, or your indoor pet stalks the houseplants, know what toxic plants for pets you should keep an eye out for and try to help them avoid.
While they look beautiful in a flower arrangement and can be a very attractive addition to your landscaping, lilies are especially harmful to cats (and certain species are toxic to dogs). Even small amounts of any part of the plant can cause severe kidney problems. Consider swapping out your Easter lilies for another early-blooming flower, or put vases and potted lilies in an area that's inaccessible to pets.
Oleanders are shrubs with white, pink and red flowers. They're beautiful, large shrubs that are native to the Mediterranean and thrive even in hot, dry climates. Yet even though oleanders are often planted along highways to block noise/pollution and are often incorporated into residential landscapes, all parts of the shrub are poisonous to pets (and to people). Oleanders contain compounds called cardiac glycosides, which can cause heart problems, hypothermia or death. If you have oleander at home, be very careful when pruning it to avoid leaving small, easily ingested pieces around your yard for pets or kids to find.
Sago palm grows in southern states and along the West Coast. It has a crown of shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk. Eating this plant can be fatal to pets in up to 75 percent of cases. Look for neurologic changes, seizures and liver failure. Symptoms can appear within 15 minutes to 3 days. All parts are toxic, but the seeds are the most dangerous. Keep your pets out of range of this palm if at all possible.
As marijuana becomes legal in more places, watch for this plant. Consumption of any part of the plant can cause mild neurologic signs (stumbling or altered mental state) or more serious complications, like seizures and even a coma.
Visit the ASPCA's website (aspca.org) for a full list of toxic plants.