Ingesting Toxic Plants Part I
We recently had to take my pet to the emergency clinic because she ate one of my plants and became very ill. Maybe you could share some information with other pet owners about what plants are dangerous and what signs to look for if your pet has ingested something.
You raise a very good point. There are many plants that won’t harm your pet, but there are some that can. While there are a large number of plants that are toxic, fortunately, a majority of these do not cause serious signs unless a very large amount is ingested. Most ingested plants cause some level of local irritation in the oral cavity since it is an abnormal substance, but is not necessarily related to its toxic substance.
Toxicoses caused by plants vary in severity from slight irritation to death, and most households contain one or more of these plants. The following is a selection of several plants and the signs they cause. This will not be an all-inclusive list, but is recommended as a guide. It should not be used as a replacement for direct contact with your veterinarian.
Oral Cavity- Typical clinical signs: head shaking, salivating, pawing at mouth, excessive drinking, and/or swelling of airway may also develop. Common plants: Philodendron (entire plant), Dumbcane/Dieffenbachia (entire plant), Elephant ears (leaves and stems), and Caladium (entire plant).
Nervous System - Typical clinical signs: muscle weakness, tremors, collapse, and airway constriction. Common plants: Nettle (stinging hairs of the plant) which may cause them to also salivate and paw at mouth, and the Japanese yew (leaves, seeds, wood, bark) where you may see the above signs, but sudden death can occur even before clinical signs are noted.
Please contact your veterinarian if your pet has ingested anything toxic. In the next article, other plants will be covered. Read Part II here.