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Make Your Pet's Home Poison Safe

We provide our pets food, attention, training, medical care and love. In exchange, they offer companionship, protection, enjoyment and their own love for us. For all that they have to offer, though, they must rely on us for protection from harm. We need to look at our homes and yards through the eyes of our pets, seeking out "toys" and "entertainments" that may be harmful for them.

Always be prepared. Your animal may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it. You should keep telephone numbers for your veterinarian, a local emergency veterinary service, and the Children’s Hospital Regional Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. If you suspect that your pet has ingested something poisonous, seek medical attention immediately.

What To Do For A Poisoned Animal

Before You Call the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Poison Control Center: If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic. While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal.

Take 30 to 60 seconds to safely collect and have at hand the material involved. This may be of great benefit to the Center professionals as they determine exactly what poison or poisons are involved. In the event that you need to take your animal to your local veterinarian, be sure to take with you any product container. Also bring any material your pet may have vomited or chewed, collected in a zip-lock bag. If your animal is seizuring, losing consciousness, unconscious or having difficulty breathing, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Most veterinarians are familiar with the consulting services of the Center. Depending on your particular situation, your local veterinarian may want to contact the Center personally while you bring your pet to the animal hospital.

Call the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Poison Control Center 800-222-1222

When you call the Center, be ready to provide:

  • Your name, address and telephone number
  • Information concerning the exposure (the amount of agent, the time since exposure, etc.). For various reasons, it is important to know exactly what poison the animal was exposed to.
  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved
  • The agent your animal(s) has been exposed to, if known
  • The problems your animal(s) is experiencing.

 

Your animal may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it. Because of this, you should be prepared.
Your animal companions regularly should be seen by a local veterinarian to maintain overall health. You should know the veterinarian's procedures for emergency situations, especially ones that occur after usual business hours. You should keep the telephone numbers for the veterinarian, and a local emergency veterinary service in a convenient location.
You may benefit by keeping a pet safety kit on hand for emergencies. Such a kit should contain:

  • A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3% (USP)
  • Can of soft dog or cat food, as appropriate
  • Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe
  • Saline eye solution to flush out eye contaminants
  • Artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing
  • Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid in order to bathe an animal after skin contamination
  • Rubber gloves to prevent you from being exposed while you bathe the animal
  • Forceps to remove stingers
  • Muzzle to keep the animal from hurting you while it is excited or in pain
  • Pet carrier to help carry the animal to your local veterinarian

 

Poison-proofing in Winter

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Chocolate (baker's, semi-sweet, milk chocolate)
  • Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
  • Moldy or spoiled foods
  • Onions, onion powder
  • Fatty foods
  • Salt
  • Yeast dough
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raisins and Grapes

 

  • Lilies that may be found in holiday flower arrangements could be deadly to your cat. Many types of lily, such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer, and the Casa Blanca, can cause kidney failure in cats Poinsettias are generally over-rated in toxicity. If ingested, poinsettias can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, and may cause mild vomiting or nausea.
  • Mistletoe has the potential to cause cardiovascular problems. However, mistletoe ingestion usually only causes gastrointestinal upset. Holly ingestion could cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and lethargy. Visit the University of Illinois Toxicology department to view pictures of plants which are poisonous to animals.

 

  • Christmas tree water may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can cause stomach upset. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can also lead to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, if ingested.
  • Electrical cords - Avoid animal exposure to electrical cords. If they are chewed they could electrocute your pet. Cover up or hide electrical cords and never let your pet chew on them.
  • Ribbons or tinsel can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction. This is a very common situation for kittens!
  • Batteries contain corrosives, and if ingested they can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Glass ornaments can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract if ingested.

 

  • Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your pets, preferably in closed cabinets. Remind holiday guests to store their medications safely as well. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal even in small dosages. One regular-strength ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog.
  • During the holidays many veterinary clinics have limited office hours. In some cases, pet owners try to medicate their animals without their veterinarian's advice. Never give your animal any medications unless under the directions of a veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately. Less than one regular strength acetaminophen tablet (325mg) can be dangerous to a cat weighing 7 pounds.

 

  • Antifreeze has a pleasant taste. Unfortunately, very small amounts can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can be deadly to a 10-pound dog. Thoroughly clean up any spills, store antifreeze in tightly closed containers and store in secured cabinets. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian right away!
  • Liquid potpourris are popular household fragrances commonly used during the holiday season. Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion from simmer pots or spills, by rubbing against leaky bottles or simmer pots containing the potpourri, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result during grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal and ocular damage.
  • Ice melting products can be irritating to skin and mouth. Depending on the actual ingredient of the ice melt and the quantity, signs of ingestion would include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting or even electrolyte imbalances.
  • Rat and mouse killers are used more commonly during colder weather. When using rat and mouse bait, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your companion animals.

 

Poison-proofing in Summer

  • Convallaria majalis - Lily of the Valley
  • Nerium oleander - Oleander
  • Rhododendron species - Rhododendron, Azalea and Rosebay
  • Taxus species - American, Japanese, English and Western Yew
  • Digitalis purpurea - Foxglove
  • Kalanchoe spp. Kalanchoe

 

  • Certain species of lilies (in cats only)
  • Rhubarb (Rheum species) - leaves only
  • Grapes (Vitis species)

 

  • Cycads (Cycad species)
  • Mushroom (Amanita phalloides)

 

  • Autumn Crocus (Colchicum species)-- (Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, renal, liver damage and bone marrow suppression)
  • Castor Bean (Ricinus species)-- (Can cause renal failure, convulsions and death)

 

  • ALWAYS assume that any ingested mushroom is highly toxic until a mycologist identifies that mushroom. Toxic and non-toxic mushrooms can grow in the same area.
  • If a pet owner suspects that their animal ingested a poisonous plant, they should contact their veterinarian immediately. It's advised to bring in part of the plant to a nursery for identification if the exact species is not known. Symptoms of poisonings can include almost any clinical sign. The animal may even appear completely normal for several hours or days.

 

  • Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until the time listed on the label by the manufacturer. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer for clarification before using it. Always store pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. The most serious problems resulting from fertilizer ingestion in pets is usually due to the presence of heavy metals such as iron. Ingestion of large amounts of fertilizer could cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • The most dangerous forms of pesticides include: snail bait containing metaldehyde, fly bait containing methomyl, systemic insecticides containing disyston or disulfaton, zinc phosphide containing mole or gopher bait and most forms of rat poisons. When using pesticides place the products in areas that are totally inaccessible to your companion animals. Always store pesticides in secured areas.

 

Gardeners with children should pay particular attention to proper use of pesticides. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that in 2002, poison centers nationwide received more than 96,000 calls regarding exposure to pesticides-more than half involving children under age six. In the state of Michigan alone, human pesticide exposures accounted for 4,346 calls, the 5th highest category of non-drug exposures.

Pesticides are, of course, designed to eliminate insects and rodents. The chemicals used to accomplish this may be dangerous to humans and pets as well if used incorrectly. The rules of thumb for safe handling of pesticides include:

  • Choose the right pesticide for the job.
  • Buy and use only legally sold, EPA-registered pesticides.

 

  • Carefully follow all instructions on the container.
  • Wear protective clothing, mask and eye protection when spraying.
  • Choose a calm, wind-free day.
  • Do not spray near children and pets, and keep them away from treated areas.
  • Follow the restricted time for reentering an area after a pesticide has been applied.

 

  • Wash hands and face thoroughly after applying pesticides. Launder clothing.
  • Keep pesticides locked up, out of sight and reach of children and pets.
  • Keep the pesticide stored in its original container-do not transfer a pesticide to a food or drink container.
  • Store pesticides away from food, including pet food.
  • " Dispose of empty pesticide containers and unused pesticides properly.

 

  • Call your poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if a pesticide comes in contact with skin, is inhaled or is swallowed.
  • If possible, have the container with you when calling.

 

The American Association of Poison control Centers urges gardeners to be safe and to keep the poison emergency hotline number, 1-800-222-1222, near all telephones. Safe practices are what make gardening a relaxing and rewarding hobby.

Pharmacists, nurses and physicians at the Children's Hospital of Michigan Regional Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) are also available to answer questions about pesticides and pesticide safety, and to provide poison education materials like brochures and stickers. Poison experts are available round-the-clock, seven days a week.

Poison information is also available at the AAPCC website, www.1-800-222-1222.info.

Poisonous Plants - Dogs and Cats


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