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Springtime is garden time. Spring is when we plant new plants
and get our yards ready to shine. While you are preparing your
outdoor areas for your family to enjoy just make sure you take the
steps to ensure that it is safe for your pets to enjoy as well.
"When planting your garden it is important to note that there
are numerous house and garden plants which can be toxic to
animals," warns Dr. Murl Bailey, professor of toxicology at the
Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences. "Several that come to mind initially are
brunfelsia, lilies, cycads, kolanchoe, and oleander."
Brunfelsia, more commonly known as the yesterday, today &
tomorrow plant, causes convulsive seizures in dogs that resemble
"We haven't seen any problems in cats from brunfelsia, as of
this date," notes Bailey. "While this plant is mostly a house
plant, it could be in sheltered gardens in the southern part of
Cycads, low growing palm trees which are used both indoors and
outdoors, are another type of plant that is toxic to dogs as they
tend to chew on the roots. The cycad has a toxin in the root and
stems that is toxic to the liver.
"When the liver is affected, the dog's body stops producing the
normal, endogenous clotting factors and the dogs start bleeding
excessively--to the extent that they can bleed to death," explains
While brunfelsia and cycads may not be known to cause problems
in cats, lilies are especially harmful to them. Once cats ingest
lilies, they develop nausea and vomiting. Then they get depressed,
and stop eating.
"Why cats like to eat them I don't know, probably boredom, but
once they do these cats must be treated by a veterinarian,
preferably within 24 hours and not later than 48 hours," states
Bailey. "We do not know which toxin(s) are present in the lilies,
but they are very toxic to the kidneys."
Kolanchoe is a type of house plant that is known to be toxic.
This plant contains a chemical which is similar to the human heart
"The garden plant oleander also contains digoxin-like compounds.
Both kolanchoe and oleander can be toxic to all animals, including
dogs and cats, if ingested," says Bailey.
While spring is a time to plant beautiful flowers in your yard,
it also brings pesky insects out in numbers. Because of this,
another potential hazard this time of year is pesticides.
"All pesticides can cause problems in dogs and cats if the
chemicals are stored incorrectly and misused," warns Bailey.
Bailey stresses that labels on all chemicals should be read very
carefully and followed, especially when used around pets. He notes
that animals do not have to eat the toxin; they can also become
exposed through the skin and in the case of volatile agents, can be
exposed just by breathing the contaminated air.
"If a pesticide is not specifically labeled to be used on dogs
and/or cats, the pesticide can cause toxicities," Bailey states.
"Some insecticides are labeled specifically for dogs and not for
cats so it is important to read the labels thoroughly."
While there are more and more products out there that claim to
be environmentally safe or "green," Bailey is not entirely
convinced of their worth.
"Many alternative and "so-called" environmentally safe compounds
are usually not very effective in controlling fleas, flies and
ticks. The best thing for an animal owner to do is follow the
labeled instructions," he adds.
Spring is a great time to enhance and enjoy the outdoors. Taking
the time to make sure that everything you put in and on your yard
is safe for your furry friends will ensure this time is special for
the entire family.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine
& Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.
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