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Many common houseplants, garden plants and shrubs can make your dog ill or even kill him. From beautiful morning glories and buttercups to the well-known poisonous plant belladonna, these plants thrive in areas your dog may roam or play. Unfortunately, dogs love to snack and many are not very picky eaters. The chance that your dog will taste-test a flower bed is pretty high; because of this, dog owners should be aware of plants that are poisonous.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are more than 700 plants that cause harmful effects in pets. Of these, flowers poisonous to dogs include morning glory, buttercup, crocus, bird-of-paradise, iris, lilies, baneberry, bloodroot, tulips (bulbs) and aconite. Poisonous shrubs include azaleas, box shrub, oleander, and laurels. Additional plants, vines and herbs poisonous to dogs include belladonna, milkweed, hyacinth, cowbane, cowslip and castor beans (these contain the toxic substance ricin).
Some plants eaten in very small quantities will simply make dogs vomit and drool. However, many plants such as yew, azalea, chrysanthemum, potato and morning glory -- to name just a few -- contain neurotoxins, which can cause fatal circulatory collapse.
Some plants like tulips contain the worst poisons in one part (in the case of tulips, it is the bulb). Other plants will poison your dog if he consumes any part of the plant; examples are oleander and marijuana.
Either vomiting or diarrhea, or both, are often the first signs your dog has ingested something bad for him. However, these are not the worst symptoms in many cases of poisoning. Plants that affect the central nervous system, for example, may cause drooling, trembling, lethargy, seizures and coma in addition to other poisoning symptoms.
Do not keep outdoor plants known to be toxic in your dog’s play area. In addition, keep an emergency vet number and the ASPCA emergency poison control number someplace easily accessed in case your dog displays symptoms of poisoning, or you witness him eating something potentially poisonous.
If you suspect poisoning, call a vet or pet poison control center immediately. What treatment is most appropriate often depends on the substance consumed.
In some cases, you may be directed to give your dog activated charcoal or hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting). Your dog’s weight determines the dose required. Your dog may require temporary hospitalization in order to make sure that his system is free of the poison.
Do not delay if you think your dog may have ingested something bad for him. Even if he vomits and then seems to feel fine after, a sufficient amount of toxins may be circulating in his bloodstream to cause damage later. By the time kidney failure or heart failure symptoms appear, it may be too late.
Pet owners should keep activated charcoal on hand. Though this is not recommended for all cases of poisoning, this can be given under the advice of a poison control center or emergency vet if your dog eats certain substances. Activated charcoal, which can be bought from pet stores, binds to some poisons, preventing them from entering the bloodstream.
In other instances, hydrogen peroxide can be given to induce vomiting. However, do this only under advice of a veterinarian. At-home emergency care should occur in conjunction with getting the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.