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Common Garden Plants That Are Toxic To Pets

Though the summer is slowly winding down, it’ll be some time before the onset of temperatures that bring the demise of many species of garden and woodland flora, so keeping an eye on your pets and ensuring they don’t ingest anything poisonous is still something that every caring owner can aspire to. It’s surprising just how many very common plants and flowers can be highly toxic, if not potentially fatal to cats and dogs and having knowledge of and being able to identify those that are can be useful when either planning a garden or considering bringing a new pet into an already established one.

Symptoms of plant poisoning vary depending on exactly what’s been ingested; however, these are the most common:

•Oral irritation •Excessive drooling •Vomiting •Difficulty swallowing •Difficulty breathing •Loss of appetite •Tiredness or weakness •Depressed behaviour •Diarrhoea •Dry mouth and/or eyes •Tremors •Fever •High heart rate •Constipation •Stiffness •Blood in stool or vomit •Increased thirst

Any pet exhibiting one or more of these symptoms should be taken to a veterinary surgeon without delay. The sooner medical attention is given to the pet, the better the chance he/she has of avoiding permanent damage.

The following are among the most common plants that are toxic to either cats, dogs or both.

Though certainly beautiful to look at, the bulbs, flowers and leaves of Hyacinths are all highly toxic if ingested in any significant quantity. Dogs in particular may be inclined to eat the flower heads because of the pleasant smell they give off. Vets report that Labrador retrievers are the breed of dog most commonly treated for Hyacinth poisoning.

Easy to grow and pretty to look at, Amaryllis plants are gardeners’ favourites. Instances of poisoning are relatively low but all pet owners should be aware of their toxicity. Indoor varieties sell in large quantities at Christmas and pet owners should either avoid them altogether or make sure that they’re positioned somewhere both high up and where falling leaves can’t be eaten.

Lily of the Valley and Foxglove
Both toxic if eaten in large quantities but common and widespread enough to be of concern. Fortunately, they offer little edible appeal to either cats or dogs.

Yew trees
Often found in tended public gardens, Yew trees are easily identified by their needle-like leaves and bright red berries. Dogs are most susceptible to Yew poisoning as the toxic alkaloids that are present in their branches are easily ingested when smaller sticks are used for play.

The bright red berries of this evergreen can be attractive to cats and if eaten can produce some nasty symptoms. Leaves and stems are also toxic. Prompt treatment by a vet usually brings positive outcomes.

Introduced from overseas, Hydrangeas have become common sights in many British gardens. Their brightly coloured flower heads may draw the attention of dogs but their bulbs containing cyanide they’re highly toxic to all pets and humans, too.

Though usually only of concern if ingested in large quantities, Chrysanthemums are popular and common enough in the UK to warrant concern from pet owners. Their fragrance is unappealing to both cats and dogs, so, fortunately, instances of consumption are relatively rare. Better to err on the side of caution, though, if your pet has displayed any tendencies for eating unusual things.

Yes, common as this decorative plant is, it’s highly toxic to both dogs and cats. The former are most likely to fall victim to its toxicity as fallen leaves can easily be blown around the garden and eaten accidentally. Large quantities can be fatal.

Often found in mixed flower bouquets from florists and supermarkets, Lilies frequently make their way into the homes of pet owners, who, unwittingly, expose their pets to great risk by displaying them in locations where their petals can be eaten or their highly toxic pollen ingested during grooming.

This list is by no means complete and there are numerous other toxic plants found throughout the UK. For a comprehensive list, please visit the Dogs Trust website: Poisonous substances fact sheet



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