Gardening for you & your pets

Posted on: 17 April 2012 by Gareth Hargreaves

How to keep your pets safe while maintaining your lawn and garden.

pet health in the gardenSpring cleaning the garden is a popular pastime of the Easter weekend. But as you plan and plant for the coming summer, consider how your pets will be affected and be especially mindful of the ingredients of some plant products. 

This quick guide should help you make the right choices to protect your pets health.

What plants are toxic to pets?

Cardiotoxic plants: (affect the heart)
Convallaria majalis - Lily of the Valley
Nerium oleander - Oleander
Rhododendron species - Rhododendron, Azalea and Rosebay
Digitalis purpurea - Foxglove
Kalanchoe spp. - Kalanchoe

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)

Fungi (Mushrooms)
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.

Poisonous plants and mushrooms 

What symptoms to look for if you suspect your pet has ingested a poisonous plant or fungus
If a pet owner suspects that their animal ingested a poisonous plant, they should contact their vet 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 garden where there are poisonous plants. However, the safest method would be to prevent exposure by removing the plants from the pet's home and garden.

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 fertilisers, 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, fertilisers 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 fertiliser ingestion in pets are usually due to the presence of heavy metals such as iron. Ingestion of large amounts of fertiliser 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 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

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