Dec 17 2013

Make the holiday season safe for your pets! Part 1: Plants

dangerous plant for dog and cat

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) : a beautiful sought-out plant during the holiday season with large red leaves often mistaken for flowers.  This plant contains an irritating sap whose toxic potential has been slightly exaggerated.  The most common symptoms observed after ingestion result from gastrointestinal irritation.  Your veterinarian can help control any specific symptoms your pet may exhibit.

Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.) : A vine traditionally hung in doorways, responsible for many a romantic moment.  This plant can be subdivided into 4 families and of those, only 8 species within the Phoradendron family have toxic properties. Phoradendron leucarpum, the most common source for decorations in North America contain several substances with toxic properties that can theoretically affect heart function leading to decreased blood pressure, heart rate and contraction force of the heart.  This is similar to what is observed with ricin or abrin, but a much weaker effect.  If ingestion occurs, consulting your veterinarian is essential to eliminate any plant residue from the gastrointestinal system and monitor cardiovascular function.

Holly (Ilex aquifolium) :  Several toxic compounds have been isolated in this plant but the problematic ones are called saponins, found mostly in the leaves and berries.  We will often observe symptoms such as salivation, anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea.  The animal may shake its head repeatedly, make abnormal movements with its tongue or lips as a result of mouth irritation.  In more severe cases, supportive care may be necessary to eliminate the toxic compound and correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

mflynn | Safety

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