Spring Time Toxins

Spring has sprung, which means sunshine, colorful plants and more outdoor time with your four-legged friends. But there are some plants and other hazards to be aware of that could cause danger to your cat or dog.

Before you head off to the garden center to pick out your seasonal blooms, check out Dr. Becker’s list of plants that present a deadly hazard for your pets:

1. Tulips and Hyacinths

Tulips contain allergenic lactones. Lactones are derived from chemical compounds and taste a bit like whiskey. Hyacinths contain similar compounds. It’s the bulbs, not the leaves or flowers, of these two plants, which are toxic.

Symptoms of poisoning by one of these plants can include mouth and esophageal irritation, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, increase in heart rate, or changes in breathing. There’s no antidote if your pup is poisoned by eating these bulbs, and severe symptoms need immediate treatment by your veterinarian.

2. Daffodils

If your pet licks or eats any part of a daffodil, she will ingest an alkaloid called lycorine which can irritate the tissues of her mouth and throat and cause excessive drooling.

Lycorine can also trigger a gastrointestinal response like vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea. In more serious cases, heart and respiratory problems can occur. Severe symptoms such as these require immediate attention by a veterinarian.

3. Lilies

The variety of lily determines whether it is a relatively harmless or potentially deadly plant. Nontoxic varieties include the Calla, Peace and Peruvian. If your pet samples one of these plants, his upper digestive tract may become irritated and he may drool.

Types of poisonous lilies include Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, Casablanca, Rubrum, Day, Japanese Show, and Easter lily. These toxic lilies can prove deadly for your cat by causing kidney failure, even in tiny amounts. If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily, you should get both your pet and the plant to a veterinary clinic right away.

4. Crocuses

The variety of crocus plants that blooms in the spring is a member of the Irdaceae family. Spring crocuses can cause GI upset, typically vomiting and diarrhea.

The crocus that blooms in in autumn is known as the Meadow Saffron, and this plant is highly poisonous to companion animals. Symptoms of toxicity include severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure, and can appear immediately upon ingestion up to several days later.

5. Lily of the Valley

Signs your dog or cat has eaten a lily of the valley plant can include vomiting, diarrhea, drop in heart rate, or seizures. The substance of lilies of the valley that is toxic to your pet is called cardiac glycosides. If you think your pet has ingested a lily of the valley, you should get him to your vet for evaluation.

Fertilizers

It’s also worth noting that fertilizer you use on your plants can be just as dangerous, or more so, than the plants themselves.  If you fertilize your lawn and garden in the spring, you should be aware of which types of fertilizer compounds are potentially fatal if swallowed by pets.

Most fertilizers cause only mild gastrointestinal symptoms if eaten, but there are a few watch-outs, including:

Blood meal contains nitrogen which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even serious inflammation of your dog’s or cat’s pancreas. Some blood meal has added iron which can also be toxic to your pet.

Bone meal contains animal bones ground down to powder. This powder is very attractive to many dogs. If your pup ingests a large quantity of bone meal, it can form a very big, hard mass in her stomach, causing an obstruction in the digestive tract and requires surgery.

Rose and plant fertilizers can contain disulfoton or another type of organophosphate. It takes the ingestion of just a tiny amount of disulfoton to kill a good sized dog.

Other types of organophosphates, which are also sometimes found in pesticides and insecticides, can cause a range of symptoms from mild to fatal. Signs of organophosphate poisoning include salivation, tearing of the eyes, loss of bladder and bowel control, seizures, respiratory problems, and hypothermia.

Iron is commonly added to fertilizers. Elemental iron can cause toxicity if ingested by your pet. Signs of iron toxicity include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and heart and liver problems.

Flea & tick preventatives are also a necessity this time of year. To see a list of our nontoxic, chemical-free flea & tick preventatives, click here.

Dr. Becker’s Detox Bites

If your pet ingests any type of poison, cleansing and detoxifying may be a good idea to maintain vital organ health. Dr. Becker’s Bites has incorporated three key nutricuticals with human-grade beef liver to add potent natural detoxifiers to the new Detox Bites.  These treats contain Chlorella (helps reduce pesticides and heavy metals), Milk Thistle (helps protect against chemicals from heart worm preventatives to shampoo to flea/tick collars or sprays), and Dandelion (a powerful herb used for cleansing the blood).

Taking a few simple precautions to avoid any plants and fertilizers known to be deadly to pets can prevent potential tragedies involving your pet. Visit the Pet Poison Helpline for more information. You can also visit this online resource which contains a comprehensive list with photos of plants which are poisonous to companion animals, and which are safe to have around the home.