Q. My dogs like to hang out with me when I’m gardening. Occasionally I’ll see them munching on a plant. Is this a problem? — Patricia K., Santa Margarita
A. Today’s gardeners are smart, conscientious people. We know the importance of using products and practices that minimize any harmful effects on our environment. We naturally avoid chemicals that could harm our precious pets.
It does not come as naturally, however, to see our plants as potential hazards. But there are several common garden plants that can cause illness and even death to our pets if ingested.
Could the bulb of your beautiful Christmas amaryllis really cause vomiting, depression, anorexia and tremors in your pets? Tulip and narcissus bulbs can cause intense gastrointestinal problems, convulsions and heart abnormalities. Even the common and popular chrysanthemum can cause gastrointestinal problems and loss of coordination if enough of the plant is eaten.
It’s also commonly known that eating any part of the oleander plant can be fatal, but who would suspect that an innocent looking lily plant could cause kidney damage in cats?
Some other popular plants that can be dangerous for your pets include clematis, helleborus, English ivy, Queen Anne’s lace, holly and elephant ears.
We have mentioned just a few of the potentially harmful plants. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has an excellent website, www.aspca.org . It contains a wealth of information on the care of your furry companion, including lists of plants, household items, garden products and common foods that can be harmful to your pet. It also lists the 17 most common plants that are poisonous to animals: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/17-common-poisonous-plants.aspx.
Hopefully your pets have better things to do than feed on your garden, but every animal, just like every human, has its own individual palate. If you do spot Fido swallowing your azalea plant, either check with your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.