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April 29, 2014 > Ohlone Humane Society: Potentially poisonous

Ohlone Humane Society: Potentially poisonous

By Nancy Lyon

It has been a little more than a month since the vernal equinox, an occurrence that officially heralds the entrance of spring, and though it may be hard for us to tell by the fluctuating weather, the plants seem to believe it and are in the process of putting out gorgeous blooms and luscious new foliageÉ luscious?

While they may not be tasty to you or me, that amazing array of tender greenery and petals can be a huge attraction to your dog, cat or rabbit; an enticing buffet that can be harmful enough to potentially be a killer.

If you have companion animals itÕs worthwhile when planning your spring garden to take a moment to consider safety and plant in areas that are not easily accessed by them. If you also dig a little deeper and research which plants contain ingredients that can be toxic when consumed, you can save everyone a lot of grief and discomfort.

More than 700 plants have been identified that produce dangerous substances that can be toxic and even deadly if consumed. Spring weather is ideal for many of these beautiful but lethal plants and bulbs, among them seasonal favorites like daffodil, iris, and lilies of many varieties. Unfortunately, all parts of lilies Ð leaf, flower, pollen Ð can be life threatening to browsing critters. And common garden plants like potatoes (leaves and stem); tomatoes (leaves and stem), rhubarb leaves, and grapes/raisins can spell disaster to our animal family if eaten, causing heart, kidney, liver, neurological and respiratory damage and failure

A number of garden trees can also produce systemic toxic effects in animals. Seeds from apples, the pits or seeds from apricots, cherries, peaches and the blackened husks from walnuts contain dangerous elements that can cause serious harm. Surprisingly, avocados, heralded as a human health food, are poisonous to rabbits, birds, horses, goats and cows.

Unfortunately, curiosity can really kill the cat, the dog and other animal family members. While not all plants may be deadly, munching out on some of them can result in mild to severe results. Being aware of potential risk is a good policy. Many of the more common varieties may be growing in your yard or on your patio at this moment. Discovering the plants that can be dangerous can help you choose the safest for your individual circumstances and help protect your animals and young children.

Something to consider Ð while you may be able to Òpet-proofÓ your yard, animals allowed to roam freely can run into problems in your neighborÕs yard where hazardous foliage may be lurking. Keeping them in their own territory is both neighborly and safe.

A great resource for easy identification is the American Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPCA) website that contains pictures and information of toxic and non-toxic plants for various species

Information about emergency care when poisoning occurs is the pet poison helpline¨ at 800-213-6680 (there is a fee) or visit the website Pet Poison Hotline @

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