In many parts of North America, azaleas are a welcome sign of spring, brightening the landscape after a long winter. Showing colors such as purple, pink, red, orange and yellow, azaleas are easy to grow, making them a popular gardening choice. The more than 1,000 species of azaleas are actually rhododendrons.
Despite all the varieties of azaleas to choose from, there are no types that are safe for your pup; all azaleas are poisonous to dogs. Azaleas are smaller than the woody shrubs commonly referred to as rhododendrons, and the ASPCA lists both plants as toxic to dogs. The Pet Poison Helpline notes the rhododendron is usually more toxic but both plants contain grayanotoxins. If your pup nibbles on any part of an azalea, he's at risk, even if he tastes just a smidge -- eating as little as 0.2 percent of his body weight can make him sick. A 40-pound dog can eat less than 1 1/2 ounces to feel the effects of azalea poisoning.
The grayanotoxins interfere with normal cardiac muscle, nerve and skeletal function. If your pup ingests any type of azalea, he'll show symptoms within a few hours, including excessive drooling, loss of appetite, digestive upset, diarrhea, weakness, weak heart rate, depression, tremors or seizures. Veterinary treatment is critical; be sure to take the plant with you so the vet can confirm diagnosis.
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