Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pet Munching on Houseplants Proves Fatal

Months after a Labrador Retriever-mix puppy, was adopted by a family from the Houston SPCA, she was rushed to a nearby emergency clinic after showing signs of illness. The puppy had eaten parts of sago palm plant, a common houseplant that is highly toxic to dogs and cats.

According to the ASPCA there has been an increase in sago palm and cycad poisoning, since 2003, with 50 to 75 percent of those ingestions resulting in fatalities. All parts of the plant are poisonous; signs of illness include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure.

All pet owners should be aware of poisonous plants and other household substances that pose danger to dogs and cats. Some plants that are dangerous to pets include:

Autumn crocus (Colchicum): Its active ingredient, colchicines, triggers an anti-metabolic effect that can cause rapidly dividing cells, shedding of the gastrointestinal tract, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.

Azalea (Rhododendron): This popular plant can harm a dog's cardiovascular system and trigger vomiting or gastrointestinal upset.

Daffodil (Narcissus): Toxic ingredients in the bulbs cause convulsions, tremors, lethargy, weakness, and upset stomachs.

Hyacinth (Hyacinth): This popular plant can cause severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, depression, and tremors.

Japanese yew (Taxis): Extremely toxic to dogs, this group of ornamental plants can cause seizures or cardiac failure. The plant and red berries are toxic.

Lily of the valley (Convalaria): This plant can cause heart failure, coordination problems, and vomiting.

Oleander (Nerium): Extremely toxic, this popular outdoor plant contains cardiac glycosides that harm the heart, decrease body temperature, cause abnormal pulse rate, and can cause death. Beware: Even people have died from eating hot dogs roasted on an oleander twig.

Rhubarb (Rheum): Although the stalks are used to make pies, the leaves pack the potential to cause kidney damage.

Sago palm (Cycads): Resembling an upside down pineapple, this plant thrives in sandy soils, especially in warmer states such as California, Texas, and Florida. A few seeds can kill a dog.

Tomato (Lycopersicion): Surprisingly, the greenery of this common plant, not the tomato itself, contains solanine, a toxic ingredient that can prompt gastric upset, depression, weakness, and a decrease in heart rate.

For more information about plants that are dangerous to pets, visit the ASPCA.

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