Don’t you just love Spring, with its mild weather, green grass, and flowers everywhere?
But some of the things we associate with this happy season can be harmful to pets and wildlife.
Bulb plants are a particular problem, and nearly all of them are toxic. To your dog, a bulb may resemble a well-worn ball that is irresistible to pick up in his mouth.
In some plants, only the bulb is a problem, and mainly causes irritation in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Typical signs are drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain, or in severe cases, respiratory or cardiac abnormalities.
But, with lilies including Easter Lilies, every part of the plant is toxic, especially to cats. A cat can be fatally poisoned simply by licking lily pollen off its fur, or taking a tiny nibble of a leaf or flower.
Toxic bulbs include:
- Lilies, including Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Easter lilies, and Stargazer lilies (any plant of the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera. Calla lilies and Peace lilies are not true lilies, though they can still cause significant irritation.)
- Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
- Tulips (Tulipa)
- Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
- Daffodils (Narcissus)
- Crocuses (including fall-blooming Colchicum autumnale and more common spring crocuses, which are in the Iris [Iridaceae] group)
- Irises (Iridaceae)
- Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
- Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
- Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
- Trillium (Trillium)
If you have bulbs planted in your garden, or if you bring a plant or bouquet indoors, be extremely cautious. For garden plants, you may want to consider fencing to keep dogs (and other critters) out. Indoor plants need to be secured well away from pets. Many cats have been poisoned by chewing on plants that a guardian was absolutely sure they couldn’t get to! (For a more complete list of poisonous and dangerous plants, click here.)
There are other spring dangers that we need to be aware of, such as fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and other chemicals commonly used in gardens. Even blood meal and bone meal can cause problems if the dog eats too much–as dogs often do! Cocoa mulch is another culprit, although it is unusual for a dog to consume enough to be poisonous (the toxin, theobromine, is the same chemical that’s in chocolate). So keep your yard safe: be sure to lock up all garden products and tools when you’re through using them!
Between knowledge and common sense, we can prevent many tragedies, and keep Spring a happy season!