Keeping Pets Safe this Spring

It’s almost Easter, and even though there’s new snow in Denver this morning, it’s time for a reminder about the potential dangers of the spring season for pets.

Most bulbs are toxic to cats and dogs; they cause irritation in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. You may see signs such as drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain, or even respiratory or cardiac abnormalities. For lilies, however, the entire plant from bulb to flower is toxic, especially to cats. Merely brushing up against a lily can be fatal if a cat gets pollen on its fur and licks it off. (Visit www.noliliesforcats.com for complete information about lily toxicity in cats.)

Here’s a partial list of the most toxic plants:

  • Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
  • Crocuses (including fall-blooming Colchicum autumnale and more common spring crocuses, which are in the Iris [Iridaceae] group)
  • Daffodils (Narcissus)
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
  • Irises (Iridaceae)
  • Lilies, including Easter lilies, Tiger lilies, Day lilies, and Stargazer lilies (any plant of the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera. Calla lilies and Peace lilies are not true lilies, though they can still cause significant irritation)
  • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
  • Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
  • Trillium (Trillium)
  • Tulips (Tulipa)

If you bring home Easter lilies or other bulb plants, be sure they are completely inaccessible to pets. Many cats have been poisoned by chewing on plants that a guardian was absolutely sure they couldn’t get to! (For a more complete list of poisonous and dangerous plants, click here.) Outdoors, consider fencing around garden areas containing toxic plants to keep dogs (and some other critters) out.

Other garden products, such as fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, are also toxic and should be kept locked up when not in immediate use. No such product is truly safe, no matter what claims may be on the label. Cocoa mulch, blood meal and bone meal are very attractive and tasty to dogs, but can cause serious illness if they eat too much.

Let’s all have a safe and happy spring!

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