Did you know that some of the most commonly used decorative and symbolic plants of the season could potentially be hazardous to your pets' health?
The cool crisp to the air, the falling leaves, and the arrival of the chrysanthemums or mums at your local store to many indicate the coming of fall. Mums contain natural pyrethrin, an insecticide; consumption of the plant can lead to gastrointestinal upset, drooling, diarrhea, depression and ataxia or loss of coordination.
Amaryllis is a beautiful flower that is commonly grown indoors from a bulb throughout the winter months. It comes in a variety of colors, the most common being red. Consumption of the bulb can lead to vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, drooling, anorexia or loss of appetite and tremors.
Christmas is often symbolized by branches of holly and strands of ivy. The holly berries are the primary toxic component of the plant and when consumed can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. All parts of English ivy are toxic and consumption leads to drooling, increased thirst, vomiting, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, excitement, and in excessive amounts difficulty breathing and seizures. Skin irritation has also been noted with contact.
What New Year's Eve party would be complete without a branch of mistletoe is a well positioned doorway? The leaves and berries of the plant are both toxic but signs can be apparent after ingestion of only a few berries. Signs include severe gastrointestinal upset, violent vomiting, and increased thirst and urination.
Should you avoid these plants in your celebration of the holidays? Absolutely not.
Plants are considered toxic if abnormal or detrimental signs are seen following their consumption. Most toxicity reports are based on indiscriminate grazing animals such cattle, horses, etc. whose consumption of plant material is often referred to as a percentage of their body weight (given the average weight of these animals we are discussing plant consumption in pounds, not bites!). That being said, milder symptoms of plant toxicity are seen, often in younger pets with eating habits similar to cattle; information to consider when your pet becomes sick and your decorations are missing.
Consider your pets and their interests when decorating your home for the holidays; keep all plant material out of reach of pets and children. A little planning beforehand may save you from missing out on the festivities due to veterinary visits!
Upcoming: a return to winter preparation; a series based on basic winter healthcare.