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Toxic Plants Your Pets Should Stay Away From

Looks can be deceiving:         Marijuana      Easter Lily


With spring knocking at our door, we start thinking about warm weather and sunny days.  For many of us, those thoughts inspire us to start planting gardens, or to buy new plants to spruce up our stuffy houses. With so many different plant and flower options available, as pet owners, we need to be careful because what looks beautiful in a pot or in our gardens could be very dangerous for our furry friends.  Plants and flowers add to the cornucopia of dangers already present in and around our homes (human medications, pest control products, cocoa mulch, etc.).  Being in Colorado, the first plant that comes to mind when we think about toxicities is marijuana, which can cause disorientation, hypotension and dribbling urine.  A close second to that, and especially with the Easter holiday just around the corner, are lilies which can cause kidney failure in cats.  There are still many more plants that can be very dangerous to our pets. Below is a list of a few of more common plants and the symptoms associated with ingestion/contact.




Sago palm– contain the toxic agent cycasin.  The seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of the toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.


Cyclamen– contain the toxic agent cyclamine.  The highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cyclamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.




Tulip bulbs– contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.


Azaleas– contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

Oleanders– contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and death.     


Castor beans– contain ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.


 Yew– (an evergreen tree or bush with stiff needles and small red berries) contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes central nervous system effects such as trembling, incoordination, and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.        

It is very important for pet owners to watch for any of the above symptoms.  If you suspect your pet could have come in contact with any of your plants, indoor or outdoor, you should see your family veterinarian immediately.



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