Almost every day, veterinarians receive phone calls from dog and cat owners saying “My cat ate a lily!” or “My dog ate a plant. Is it poisonous?” Some of the most poisonous plants for dogs and cats are reviewed below. While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet. Make sure you know which plants are most deadly to avoid your dog or cat from getting into these poisonous flowers and poisonous plants!
There are two Crocus plants: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus species) and the other in the autumn Colchicum autumnale). The spring plants are more common and are part of the Iridaceae family. These ingestions can cause general gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. These should not be mistaken for Autumn Crocus, part of the Liliaceae family, which contain colchicine. The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure. If you’re not sure what plant it is, bring your pet to their veterinarian immediately for care. Signs may be seen immediately but can be delayed for days.
In the same family as rhododendrons, azaleas can have serious effects on pets. Eating even a few leaves can result in vomiting, diarrhea and excessive drooling; without immediate veterinary attention, the pet could fall into a coma and possibly die.
The roots of this seasonal flowering plant are especially dangerous to pets. If ingested, cyclamen can cause severe vomiting and even death.
This popular flowering succulent plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea and heart arrhythmias if ingested by pets.
There are dangerous and benign lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs, such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus – this results in minor drooling. The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently we can treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis.
Oleander is an outdoor shrub, popular for its evergreen qualities and delicate flowers. However, the leaves and flowers are extremely toxic if ingested and can cause severe vomiting, slow the heart rate and possibly even cause death.
Popular in many homes and offices, dieffenbachia can cause intense oral irritation, drooling, nausea, vomiting and difficulty swallowing if ingested.
These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (something that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can result in more severe symptoms so if an exposure is witnessed or symptoms are seen, we recommend seeking veterinary care for further supportive care.
Lily of the Valley
The Convallaria majalis plant contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and possibly seizures. Pets with any known exposure to this plant should be examined and evaluated by a veterinarian and treated symptomatically.
Very popular in warmer climates, this household and outdoor plant can be very harmful to pets. If ingested, the leaves and seeds can cause vomiting, bloody stools, damage to the stomach lining, severe liver failure and, in some cases, death. Next to the Bufo Toad, this is one of the most common dangers your pet can face in South Florida.
Tulips and Hyacinths
Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed. There’s no specific antidote, but with supportive care from the veterinarian (including rinsing the mouth, anti-vomiting medication, and possibly subcutaneous fluids), animals do quite well. With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen, and should be treated by a veterinarian. These more severe signs are seen in cattle or our overzealous, chowhound Labradors.
If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these items or any other questionable substance, call your veterinarian for assistance. Accurate and timely identification of the suspected substance is very important. Having the container, package, or label in hand will save valuable time and may save the life of your pet.
1. Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with lef hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of 10.
4. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
5. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, holding front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold cat's head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
6. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
7. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with its head just visible from below spouse's armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force cat's mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
8. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply band-aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
9. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
10. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
11. Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.
12. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Force cat's mouth open with small spanner. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 1/2 pint of water down throat to wash pill down.
13. Get spouse to drive you to emergency room; sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop by furniture shop on way home to order new table.
14. Arrange for vet to make a housecall.
The bottom line is that any concern about your pet's health warrants, at minimum, a call to your veterinarian.
South Miami Animal Clinic