April Showers - May Flowers - and Pets

Apr 27, 2019

Pretty flowers and cute cat, but - those tulips are poisonous!
Credit Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue [Flickr]

Flowers are a lovely way to add color to our homes, but some of them pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of our four-footed friends, both inside and outside the house.  Before decorating with live plants, check to be sure you are choosing ones that are not toxic to your pets.

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You may be familiar with the rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers.” This is the time of year when lots of folks buy and plant all sorts of flowers and shrubs to make their homes and gardens pretty, colorful and fragrant.

A friend of mine went to a plant sale recently and came home with several items, including oleander, an evergreen shrub with fragrant flowers. What she did not realize is that oleander is a very poisonous plant, toxic to dogs, cats, horses and even humans. All parts of the plant are considered toxic, causing gastrointestinal problems, heart problems, even death. Since my friend has several pets, including horses, she opted not to keep the oleander.

Many common plants are considered poisonous, including azaleas, tulips, and house plants like English ivy, schefflera and even the Peace lily. Most of the toxic reactions include digestive problems, but some can have very serious effects such as cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, coma – any of which can be fatal – and psychological problems like depression.

Before adding any plants to your yard or home, you might want to visit the ASPCA website at ASPCA.org/PetCare. Click on the link to Animal Poison Control, a separate web page with some great information about keeping your pet safe. There is a link to the guide to Poisonous Plants along with links to “People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet” and “Poisonous Household Products”

While you’re there, download the free Animal Poison Control Mobile App. It puts a database of plants that are toxic to pets right at your fingertips, so you can take it with you for easy reference when choosing new plants for your home or garden that are safe for your pets - and your children.

The ASPCA app also has an icon to click to make an emergency call to their Poison Control hotline. There may be a fee for the call, but it’s a great resource to have if you suspect your pet has ingested a poisonous substance – just one more way to make sure your best friend stays happy and healthy, when you’re speaking of pets.

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