Now that we are enjoying the nice weather of spring and summer, many of us will be outside gardening.  We may even bring some plants and flowers indoors to enjoy.  Although spring and summer plants can add beauty and happiness to our home, many plants can be very dangerous if ingested by our pets. The degree of toxicity varies; some plants are not toxic at all, some will cause only mild irritation of the mouth or cause vomiting/diarrhea, while others are very toxic and can cause organ failure and death.

Two examples of very toxic plants include Lilies and Sago Palms. Lily (Lilium and Hemerocallis spp.) plants are common in many bouquets but all parts of the plant are toxic to cats. Ingestion of even a small part of the plant can cause life-threatening or fatal kidney failure. Sago palms (Cycas spp) are popular outdoor plants in the Southern U.S., but are commonly used as decorative indoor plants in this part of the country.  Sago palm, even in small amounts (1-2 seeds), can cause severe liver dysfunction. Many other common decorative plants can be toxic to our furry family members.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s web page has an extensive illustrated list of toxic and nontoxic plants at Plants can be searched by their scientific names, which are often indicated on information tags at the time of purchase.

If you suspect that your pet ingested part of a toxic plant, Newtown Veterinary Specialists recommends calling the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888- 426-4435. Please note that a $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card. The toxicology specialists will be able to provide you with recommendations regarding treatment.  If they recommend seeking veterinary care please remember to bring your case number so the emergency veterinarian can consult with the toxicologist.

If your pet chews on part of a plant but you are not sure what type it is, please bring samples of the plant with you so the emergency veterinarian and toxicology specialists can try to identify it and provide appropriate treatment. Newtown Veterinary Specialists is open 24/7 for toxin ingestion or any other type of pet emergency.

Photo credit: Asian Lily/ASPCA