Some plants can make your dogs and cats very sick, and some can even be deadly to your pet if ingested. By being aware of the danger and by taking proper precautions, you can keep your favorite plants and pets safe.

Sago palms (also called King palms or King Sago palms)

Pets that ingest the leaves, cone or even seeds of the plant can suffer liver damage, liver failure and, in extreme cases, death…due to a toxin called Cycasin that is found in the plant. We typically see pets get sick one-to-two days after ingestion. Usual symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and a pronounced lack of appetite.

In the extreme cases where liver failure does occur, you may see a yellowish, jaundiced appearance to the pet’s skin or the whites of the eyes – showing the result of liver damage.

Dogs and Cats and Mushrooms

Pets have been known to eat mushrooms in yards and while on walks. While 99 percent of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1 percent that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Take extra care to keep pets away from areas where mushrooms might be growing.

Dogs take a special interest in both Amanita phalloides and Inocybe species, possibly because of their fishy odor. Amanita phalloides is well known to be a deadly species, but Inocybe species and the Clitocybe species that also contain muscarine can be lethal to dogs.

A great many dogs die each year from consuming mushrooms containing amatoxins. Although cats rarely consume mushrooms, they are particularly attracted to dried Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina, sometimes with lethal results. Symptoms are characterized by a six-to-12 hour delay in symptoms followed by severe GI distress and a refusal to eat or drink.

Amanita phalloides
Amanita pantherina
Amanita muscaria

Cats and Lilies

If you have a cat in your home, use extreme caution when bringing in flowers, bouquets and new plants into your cat-friendly household.

Easter lilies are extremely poisonous to cats, and just one-to-two leaves (and even the pollen) can kill a cat. Even small ingestions can result in severe kidney failure. (Cats are more common lily poisoning victims than dogs, but they are toxic to both.)

The Easter Lily is one of many plants of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species that are very poisonous. Others are commonly known as the Tiger Lily, Stargazer Lily, Day Lily, Asiatic Lily and Japanese Show Lily, and each can cause severe, acute kidney failure in cats.

Signs of poisoning often develop after six hours of exposure, which include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Untreated, signs worsen as acute kidney failure develops, and signs of not urinating or urinating too frequently, not drinking or excessive thirst, and the inflammation of the pancreas may be seen with lily poisoning. Rarer signs include walking drunk, disorientation, tremors, and even seizures.

Other Toxic Flora to Pets

Popular garden items that are poisonous include Azalea, Buttercups, Chrysanthemums, Gladiolas, Hibiscus, Hyacinth, Hydrangeas, Mums, Primroses, Rhododendrons, Sweet Peas and Tulips.

Other bouquet favorites are also likely to make your dogs and cats sick if eaten, so keep flower arrangements that include these plants where your pets can’t get to them. These include Baby’s breath, Bird of Paradise, Carnations, Irises and Peonies.

Gorgeous climbing plants, such as Ivy and Wisteria, should be off limits to your dog. Even medicinal and recreational plants are unsafe, including St. John’s Wort, Aloe, Tobacco and Rhubarb plants.  None of these are good for dogs or cats.

During the holidays, note American and English Holly are toxic to animals. Mistletoe is also poisonous, and Poinsettias can be extremely irritating to the mouth and stomach if ingested. Fortunately, the unpleasant taste keeps animals from eating a lot of the plant, but it’s best if you keep your pets far away from them.

You can still keep your favorite flowers inside where you can appreciate their beauty, but lock them away when you’re not at home and keep a close watch when your pets are near them. Likewise, with outdoor plants, just keep a close eye on a pet playing in the yard.

It’s not advisable to let pets out unsupervised, and we can’t watch them every second, but you can help keep your pet healthy by knowing which plants and trees are toxic.

By being aware of the danger and by taking proper precautions, you can keep your favorite plants and your pets safe, too.