A quick way to spruce up your home is to decorate it with plants and flowers. But before you fill add an arrangement of lilies to your dining room table or stock your windowsills with bulbs, be sure that these plants and flowers are safe for everyone in your household. And that includes your pets.
You may be surprised to learn that beautiful looking plants can be deadly to animals. In fact, a huge number of pets are poisoned each year from ingesting the leaves, stems, and flowers found in homes around the country. So what can you do to protect your animal companions?
The Toxic Ten
Here is a list of the ten most common toxic plants for pets. Please keep in mind that this is a partial list; there are many, many more species that will endanger your pets. To find out more, contact the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Sago Palm (all of this plant is toxic, but the most harm lies in the seeds)
Lilies (all parts of this flower are extremely toxic to cats)
Tulips & Narcissus bulbs
Azalea & Rhododendron
Cyclamen (the root is the most toxic part of this plant)
When in Doubt, Ask
If you are unsure if a plant is dangerous to have around the house or in your yard, contact the experts at ASPCA either via phone or email. For example, let's say you want to protect your lawn with a spray that has some chemicals in it. Is it OK for you to let your dog out once this has been done? The folks at the Animal Poison Control Center have the answers.
When Accidents Happen
Even armed with this list, it is impossible to control your pets around the clock. Therefore, it is wise to determine a course of action before an accident occurs. Here is what you should do if your pet ingests a toxic plant:
Quickly scout the area for any pieces of plant material (even partially digested pieces) that you can share with the vet)
If time allows, call ahead to your vet and let the office know you are on the way
If you are unable to move your pet, call the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) as well as your current vet. The APCC is open every day, twenty-four hours a day. Be aware that a $55.00 consultation fee may be applied. Post the number for the APCC in a readily accessible place: 1-888-426-4435.
When you call the hotline, be ready to give the operator some basic information about your pet and what has occurred. Clearly state the pet's name, breed, sex, and age and give a clear and concise account of what transpired. Carefully describe your pet's symptoms. You will also want to state your name and a contact number where you can be reached in case the call gets disconnected.
Sometimes an animal may consume a hazardous material and act as though nothing strange has happened. This is because some toxins take a while to have a negative effect and symptoms may not be obvious until hours, or even days, have passed. Therefore, always stay attuned to your pet's actions and do not hesitate to consult a vet if you believe something might be wrong.
Post the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's phone number on your fridge and think about investing in a first aid kit for your pet. Often, rapid response and quick thinking is the key to saving an animal's life.