Despite your best efforts to protect your dog from accidental injury or illness, toxic plants can still pose a major hazard to your pet's health. Reduce the likelihood of serious injury occurring to your dog by recognizing toxic outdoor plants in your area and keep your dog away from them.
A poisonous plant is one that causes a negative reaction in your pet after he comes into physical contact with or ingests it. Not all poisonous plant encounters wind up being fatal, but it is very difficult to know which plants will only upset your dog's stomach versus which plants could potentially kill him. The size of your dog, the amount of plant he ingests and the toxicity of the particular plant all play a part in determining whether he becomes mildly sick or deathly ill.
Recognizing Toxic Plants
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has compiled an extensive list of plants that are considered toxic to your dog (see Resources). Your best bet for avoiding toxic plants is to familiarize yourself with the list and with the plants that are located in your area of the country. This will allow you to recognize potential hazards and help your dog avoid them. Some of the more commonly found plants on the list include aloe, American holly, apple trees, azaleas, begonias, poinsettias and rhododendrons.
Symptoms of Plant Poisoning
The severity of the toxins your dog has ingested will play a large part in what symptoms he exhibits. If you suspect your dog may have eaten a toxic plant, you should be on the lookout for any signs of illness. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, signs of poisoning in a dog include but are not limited to: vomiting, drooling, nausea, weakness, diarrhea, foul breath or odor coming from the mouth, unwillingness to eat, coughing, excessive drinking, urination problems, pale or jaundiced gums, accelerated heartbeat, collapse, abnormal behavior, convulsions and death.
Treating Plant Poisoning
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten a toxic plant. If possible, bring a sample of the plant to the veterinarian's office with you so he will know exactly what your dog consumed. Your veterinarian may choose to induce vomiting or perform gastric flushes to try to get the poison out of your dog's system as quickly as possible. In some cases, IV fluids may be given to prevent dehydration.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.