a small dog smelling a dandelion

Protect Your Pets from Poisonous Plants

Spring can seem far off when you still feel that chill in the air. However, March 19th marks the first day of spring. Before you know it, you may get the urge to start sprouting your seeds indoors to get ready for planting, or looking around at plants you want to add to various rooms of your home. Also, as the weather begins to warm up, you may take your dog with you out for a hike. However, with spring weather comes many plants that are toxic to pets. So, before you visit your local nursery or head out for a hike with your pet, be sure you know which plants are poisonous and which ones are safe. 

Illinois Wildflowers and Plants Poisonous to People and Pets

Common plants found in Illinois that are poisonous to all mammals:

  • Wild parsnips
  • Poison Hemlock
  • White Snakeroot
  • Jimson Weed
  • Bittersweet Nightshade
  • Stinging Nettle
  • Wood Nettle
  • Poison Ivy
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Pokeweed
  • Wild Parsnip
  • White Snakeroot

For more information and pictures of these plants visit this link from Rockford’s #1 New Country 98.5.

Hiking Trail Tip

When hiking, if your dog is allowed to run off without a leash it is very difficult to control, or even know, what plants they come in contact with. Therefore, you should keep your dog on a leash. We also urge you to keep your cats indoors or create an outside enclosure to keep them safe. There are cat fences and catios such as those made by The Purrfect Fence. Or you can build your own such as shown by catiospaces.com. Some people have even managed to train their cats to walk on a leash. But this takes time, training and patience as covered in this video from the New York Times. 

Poisonous Garden & House Plants

Both toxic and safe plants for the house and garden are numerous. We will not try to list them all here. But you can access the lists from the ASPCA. The list includes toxic plants for dogs, cats and horses.

The most important factor in choosing plants for your garden or home is to check first before adding any plants. If you have just moved into a new home, find out if any of the plants in your garden are toxic. If any are toxic you can either barricade your pet from them or put them out of reach. Or if necessary, remove them altogether. It is vital to keep your pet safe from toxic and life-threatening plants.

Fertilizers Can Be Poisons Too

Don’t overlook fertilizers! Most commercial fertilizers are toxic to pets. For example, they contain varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (potash). These are indicated by the three numbers on the packaging, for example, 30-10-10. They may also contain minerals that can be toxic in large concentrations as well as herbicides, pesticides and fungicides which increases the risk of poisoning. While small amounts of fertilizer ingested may only result in mild stomach upset, larger amounts ingested can result in severe poisoning. Large amounts of meal-based fertilizers ingested may also form a concretion in the stomach resulting in a bowel obstruction or severe and painful inflammation of the pancreas. 

On the other hand, there are safe fertilizers you can use. One of the best is compost and if you make your own it’s free. For more information about toxic fertilizers and safe fertilizers visit gardeningknowhow.com

Common signs of poisoning to watch for:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (acute or delayed onset)
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Inability to urinate
  • Drooling
  • Abnormal posture due to abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • “Muddy” colored gums

There are also websites regarding toxic plants for exotic animals such as rabbits, birds, etc. You can find some lists of plants that are toxic to these animals below, and you can always reach out to us to ask about any you are unsure of.

Plants Toxic to Rabbits
10 Things Toxic to Guinea Pigs
10 Common Plants that are Toxic to Birds
9 Foods that are Dangerous and Toxic to Ferrets

The important thing – if you think your pet has eaten something toxic, act fast! Contact us or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations. 

Sincerely, Stacey Funderburk D.V.M.     

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