Now is a great time for many favorite activities, including gardening and spending time relaxing in the yard with friends and family of both the two-legged and four-legged variety. But sometimes those two things don’t mix so well. Most pet owners don’t realize it, but the average backyard garden is filled with poisons that could make your best friend sick, or worse.
Protect your pets by knowing what common backyard plants and gardening aids could be dangerous, and keeping your furry friends away from them. Here’s a look at some common backyard toxins:
Flowers sure can be pretty, but these decorative dandies represent some of the most dangerous threats to your pets’ health. If you plant any of these popular varieties in your garden, be sure to keep a close eye on your pets.
Amaryllis: These bold summer flowers can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, appetite loss, tremors, and abdominal pain if eaten by your pet.
Azaleas: Keep your pet away from this popular ornamental shrub. Its delicate flowers can cause weakness, upset stomach, heart failure, depression, and even coma.
Chrysanthemums: Eating these bright autumn favorites will likely result in vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and appetite loss for your pet.
Crocuses: There are two types of crocus plants: spring and autumn. The more common spring variety can result in gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, in dogs and cats. Autumn crocuses, however are highly toxic. If eaten, they can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, respiratory distress, and organ failure.
Daffodils: Daffodils are often the first harbinger of spring, with their showy trumpet-like centers. Keep them away from your pets, though, because they can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, convulsions, seizures, and low blood pressure.
Foxglove: These beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers may add a burst of color to your garden, but they are highly toxic to pets and to humans. Foxglove contains naturally-occurring poisons that affect the heart, called cardiac glycoside toxins, and they interfere directly with electrolyte balance within the heart muscle. They can cause tremors, seizures, and death.
Hyacinth: Every part of these sweet smelling springtime flowers can cause illness if ingested, but the bulbs are especially toxic. If ingested, hyacinth bulbs can impair breathing and cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and an increased heart rate.
Kalanchoe: This colorful flowering succulent is beautiful, but dangerous. Eating it can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and heart arrhythmia.
Lilies: Lilies are lovely, but certain varieties – tiger lilies, daylilies, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese lilies–are extremely toxic to cats. Ingesting even small amounts — as little as two petals or leaves, licking the pollen, or drinking the water from a vase of lilies — can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat consumes any part of these lilies, take them immediately to your veterinarian or an emergency hospital.
Lily of the Valley: Despite its name, this springtime favorite, which resembles tiny bells, is not a member of the lily family. Even so, it is incredibly toxic to both dogs and cats. If ingested, these flowers can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, and seizures.
Oleander: This outdoor shrub, popular for its evergreen foliage and beautiful flowers, is a known toxin to both humans and animals. It can cause severe vomiting, decreased heart rate, and death.
Sago palms: These showy members of the palm family are popular in warmer climates, but are often cultivated as a houseplant. They are also one of the most deadly plants for pets. Every part of a sago palm is poisonous to dogs, but especially the nuts and seeds. Even a small amount can cause severe vomiting and bloody stool, as well as damage to the stomach lining, liver failure, and ultimately death.
Tulips: Every part of these springtime favorites can cause illness if ingested, but the bulbs are especially dangerous. If ingested, tulip bulbs can result in difficulty breathing, severe vomiting, diarrhea, an increased heart rate, and lack of appetite.
One popular type of mulch is made from the discarded hulls the cocoa bean, which we use to make chocolate. Just like chocolate, these hulls contain theobromine and caffeine, which are both toxic to dogs. These toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination, excessive panting, increased heart rate and blood pressure levels and seizures, and in extreme cases, death. This type of mulch is particularly tempting for pets because of the rich, chocolatey fragrance.
Fertilizers are an important part of keeping your garden growing well, but what’s good for your flowers isn’t necessarily good for your pets. It’s a good idea to keep any fertilizer, chemical or organic, away from your pets. Two fertilizers in particular, though, are especially dangerous: blood meal and bone meal.
Blood meal is exactly what it sounds like. This nutrient rich fertilizer comes from evaporated animal blood. Because dogs and cats are both closely related to wild predators, the taste of blood is very attractive to them. But eating a large amount of this rich “meal” can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and severe pancreatic inflammation.
Similarly, bone meal is an organic fertilizer made from ground animal bones. As with blood meal, this crushed bone powder can be irresistible to dogs. Unfortunately, when it’s ingested, bone meal powder can solidify, like cement, in the stomach, creating a dangerous obstruction that could require surgical removal.
This one should be a no-brainer. Insecticides are created specifically to kill living creatures — particularly the creepy crawlies that like to eat your plants. Naturally, then, ingesting them will not be good for your pet.
Slug or snail bait, which gardeners use to lure garden munching slugs to their doom, can be particularly deadly. Snail bait can come in pellet form, powdered, or as a liquid, and the active ingredient in them, metaldehyde, is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Eating snail bait can result in restlessness, vomiting, seizures, life-threatening fevers, and even death. If you suspect your pet may have ingested snail bait, get them immediate veterinary attention.
Compost is the lifeblood of a good garden, but can be dangerous to pets. Compost bins are filed with decomposing organic matter, which can produce toxic molds. Signs that your pet may be having a negative reaction from eating compost include agitation, vomiting, and seizures. To prevent this, simply keep your compost fenced in.
Act Fast: Contact the Pet Poison Helpline immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested a poison.