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toxic plants

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Make sure you know your plants

Many can be downright dangerous to family pets.

Toxic plants: If you’re a pet owner, you probably already know about the common foods your canine or feline friend should avoid. Add to that a laundry list of plants they shouldn’t get their paws on. 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists more than a thousand plants that are toxic to pets. Each one causes symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal upset to vomiting, organ damage and sometimes death, depending on the amount consumed. With many flowers and plants blooming now, it’s an important time to review the contents of your yard and plan your garden for pet-friendly foliage. It’s also a great time to take an inventory of any harmful plants that have made it into your landscaping. Choose to replant them in sections of your yard that are out of your fur babies’ reach or make the decision to remove those plants.

Sarah Bean White, a Renton resident, was surprised to find Montaigne, her 2-year-old golden retriever, vomiting after he spent some time outside in the yard. White had seen him chewing on her sago palm outside, but didn’t think much of it until she researched it online. “When I found out that it was [poisonous], I called the vet,” says White. “He told us to bring Montaigne in immediately. By the time we reached the vet he was lethargic, whimpering and still vomiting. The vet said he had a 50% chance of surviving.” 

Montaigne was one of the lucky ones and went on to live a healthy life, but White says, “I think people make the mistake of thinking that it’s only puppies, but even adult dogs will get into this stuff. My advice for new pet owners is to familiarize themselves with all the poisonous things.” 

And that doesn’t end at chocolate, garlic, grapes and raisins.  

Some of the most common plant culprits in Pacific Northwest pet poisonings are native or easily grown flowers and plants like rhododendron, foxglove, milkweed, hostas, azaleas, ivy and lilies. If your pet eats one of those plants, it will likely result in an emergency visit to your local veterinary hospital. Treatments include the use of activated charcoal to induce vomiting, IV treatments and antibiotics.

Many other common springtime bulbs and plants like daffodil, hyacinth, crocus, elderberry, lupine and morning glory are used in traditional landscapes around businesses and storefronts. When taking walks around the neighborhood, at parks or hiking on trails, it’s helpful to be aware of the greenery in the area. Take note if your pet is digging near gardens and redirect it to another location. Plants from bulbs are often highly poisonous, and the bulb is usually the plant’s most dangerous part.

Some very popular indoor plants can also be a danger to pets. Keep those plants out of reach, on high shelves. Train your pet to avoid digging up plants and taste-testing vegetation. If you suspect an animal has consumed a poisonous plant, contact your veterinarian immediately, or head to your local animal hospital for emergency care. 

For more information on toxic and nontoxic plants, visit 

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About the Author

Jasmin Thankachen

Jasmin is the Associate Publisher at Seattle's Child and an Eastside mom of two boys. She enjoys parenting with lots of love and laughter. Co-Founder of PopUp StoryWalk, she also loves children's picture books, essay writing, and community stories.