Spring Safety for Pets

April 18, 2019

Spring Safety for Pets

Sunshine and warm air make spring the ideal time to start your lawn and garden work. As you choose chemicals and adornments, keep in mind that some plants and products can be toxic to your furry friend. Don’t sacrifice your pet’s safety for a beautiful lawn or flower beds.

Household and garden plants

Most pet owners are unaware that many plants found in flower beds, gardens, and home planters are potentially toxic. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center, plant toxicity ranks ninth among all pet toxicities. Varieties dangerous to pets include:

  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azalea
  • Baby’s breath
  • Castor bean
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clematis
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Dumb cane
  • Gladiolas
  • Holly
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lilies
  • Mistletoe
  • Narcissus
  • Oleander
  • Poinsettia
  • Pothos
  • Rhododendron
  • Sago palm
  • Schefflera
  • Tulip
  • Yew
  • Yucca

Watch pets closely, or avoid using toxic plants in your garden.


When you choose mulch for your yard, stay away from products made from the cocoa bean shells that remain after chocolate processing. Cocoa bean mulch can contain theobromine and caffeine, which cause chocolate toxicity. Freshly laid mulch heated by the sun can smell like warm chocolate and entice your pet to eat some.

Other mulch varieties may be treated with toxic chemicals and cause gastrointestinal trauma or obstruction if ingested.


Chemicals used to cultivate a lush, green lawn can contain a variety of dangerous ingredients.

  • Bone or blood meal — Made from natural animal products, these ingredients may sound safe but can still cause problems. Bone meal is made from dried, powdered bone and can become clumped in your pet’s intestine and cause a blockage if your pet eats enough. Blood meal can cause gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis.
  • Iron — Some fertilizers contain high iron levels that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as heart and liver problems.
  • Organophosphates — Organophosphates are a highly toxic group of chemicals that can  cause death in a 50-pound dog who eats as little as a teaspoon.


A plethora of products are available to deter and kill yard and garden pests. Keep in mind that any product designed to harm insects or animals is likely toxic to pets, as well.

  • Insecticides — Bug sprays, traps, and baits contain a variety of active ingredients. Most are only mildly toxic, but a few contain organophosphates, which cause life-threatening toxicity.
  • Snail and slug baits — Metaldehyde-containing snail and slug baits come in pellet, granule, powder, and spray forms. All are extremely toxic to pets, causing neurotoxicity with symptoms of vomiting, incoordination, muscle tremors, and seizures.
  • Rodenticides — The many types of baits designed to kill mice, rats, and other rodents are also tempting to pets, and all are dangerous. Dogs and cats may also eat a dead or dying rodent that has ingested bait, causing secondary exposure. Anticoagulants in the rodenticides cause internal bleeding, and pets will show signs such as bruising, bloody nose, or blood in the urine or feces. Baits containing cholecalciferol cause dangerously high calcium levels that lead to acute kidney failure. Bromethalin is particularly toxic and causes neurologic signs due to brain swelling. Mole and gopher baits often contain zinc phosphide, which releases a toxic gas when exposed to stomach acid. Phosphide gas causes vomiting, seizures, and severe respiratory distress. The toxic gas also can affect people if exposed to a poisoned pet’s vomit.

If you think your pet may have been exposed to a potential toxin, our emergency team can help. Contact our hospital immediately.