Gardening for you and your pets

Posted on: 12 May 2015 by 50connect editorial

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

Yorkshire Terrier in garden

May ordinarily brings warmer weather and, subject to the uncertain nature of British Summertime, plenty of time to potter around in the garden. But while you are busy transferring bedding plants or digging in this year's veg crop, consider what you plant and how it could affect your pets. Here are some answers to the most common questions asked when it comes to gardening and the safety of pets.

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)

mushroom - Amanita phalloides

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.

What should pet owners do if they suspect their animal has swallowed a poisonous plant or mushroom? What symptoms should they look for?

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.

Mineral fertiliser

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:

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