2017-12-08 / Home & Garden

A Pawtanical Garden

Stopping to smell the flowers
By Arlene Marturano

During the holidays families are bringing plants into the home as gifts and decorations. Pets want and need to be part of the festivities, but many holiday plants are poisonous to our fur friends.

Realizing people do not know which plants are toxic to pets, a veterinarian and a landscape designer in South London, UK, teamed up to create a pawtanical garden to enlighten pet owners on dangerous plants.

Canines and felines are intentionally barricaded from accompanying their owners into the poison patch. The pair also targeted the horticulture industry to label species toxic to pets. Do your holiday plants bear warning labels?

What holiday gift plants and greenery are dangerous to curious cats and dogs? The showy red bracts and green leaves of poinsettia contain a thick, milky sap that irritates the skin of the mouth and esophagus. If poinsettias are eaten, they can cause nausea and vomiting, but it would take a very large amount of plant material to cause poisoning. The irritating taste of the sap usually deters eating.


The thick milky irritating sap of poinsettias deters animals from sampling much. The thick milky irritating sap of poinsettias deters animals from sampling much. “Oh, my gosh, by golly, it’s time for mistletoe and holly” are lyrics from a Christmas song written and sung by Frank Sinatra not a dietary recommendation for pets. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_mL5nfovYI) If you deck the halls with boughs of holly, keep all 29 species of the Ilex genus out of paws reach. Vomiting, diarrhea and depression are observable signs of saponin poisoning from holly. Likewise, American mistletoe, Phoradendron flavescens, contains lectins and phora- toxins causing vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and low heart rate.

Amaryllis bulbs are ubiquitous at Yuletide. Their beauty is matched by one major drawback, toxicity to pets. The bulb is more toxic than the leaves or flowers, but all parts cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and tremors.


Vets advise to make your home pet-safe for the holidays. Vets advise to make your home pet-safe for the holidays. For those giving or receiving daffodil bulbs, Narcissus spp., keep pets from chewing bulbs; they are not a treat. As amaryllis family members, daffodils cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Whereas O Tannenbaum’s branches may be lovely to look at, conifer oils and needles, if ingested, can disrupt dog and cat intestinal tracts. Cover tree stands to prevent pets from drinking the water.

While flamboyant and festive ornamental plants are part of the holiday season, thinking ahead can make the holidays safe for four-legged family members. Keep the phone number of your vet or emergency veterinarian clinic on your cell phone.

Celebrate the holidays with canine companions at Reindogs and Elves Sunday, December 10 from 2–4 p.m. when costumed canines convert the Carolina Children’s Garden into a Pawtanical Garden. Register online at www.carolinachildrensgarden.org/


The ASPCA website gives details on toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and cats. The ASPCA website gives details on toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and cats. Poisonous Plants and Pets
www.aspca.org
www.avma.org
www.petpoisonhelpline.com


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