Gardening Safety Reminders
Gardening is a past time enjoyed by many this time of year. Working on a gardening project can be a bonding experience for family members to be remembered for years and lifetimes. For some members of the family this can also be a particularly hazardous event. Many beautiful plants that we labor over can be toxic to pets. The choice of what to plant should be considered when planning your next project, and should serve as a reminder when it's time to bring your spring time bouquets indoors.
The first rule in every project is to know (and keep a written record) of the exact name of each plant. Many plants such as Lilies have hazardous and non-hazardous varieties. Having a record of the exact name of the plant can help ensure that the correct treatment is administered promptly if needed.
The following is a short list of the more common plants found and grown in our region.
The Easter Lily, Asian Lily, Day Lily and Tiger Lily are highly toxic and even a small ingestion of these can be deadly to cats. Other varieties such as the Peace Lily, Calla Lily and Peruvian Lily contain crystals that when chewed can cause irritation to the tongue, gums mouth and esophagus. While the later group is not considered deadly the resulting irritation can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and pain.
Tulips, Daffodils and 'bulb' plants:
While ingestion of the flowers or leaves of these plants typically cause stomach and intestine irritation resulting in vomiting and diarrhea the ingestion of the bulb can be much more serious. Symptoms may include weakness, depression and lethargy. The bulbs of the Iris or Lily of the Valley carry a more serious concern as death may result from ingestion.
The spring Crocus, which is more common, can cause symptoms of stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. This variety should not be confused with the Autumn Crocus, which can cause liver, kidney and respiratory failure.
There are thousands of species of mushrooms and they can be very difficult to distinguish even by experts. There is a type of mushroom in Georgia that can be deadly if ingested. The signs seen are vomiting, diarrhea and later liver failure. If you feel your pet has eaten a mushroom please seek veterinary care. It is also important to keep you yard free of mushrooms. Watch for them especially after heavy rains.
Other common plants that have proven to be harmful to pets include Schefflea, Rhodonendron, and Azalea. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, lists plant toxicity among the top ten poisoning to pets in 2008.
Plants are not the only concerns living in our gardens. The products you use to enhance and protect your gardens are also a serious threat to your pets. Use care when using fertilizers and insecticides as most of these carry health concerns for your pets
When applied properly and following the label instructions most fertilizers will not be harmful to pets. Problems generally occur when pets come into contact with concentrated solutions or ingest large quantities of treated materials. The most common symptom is stomach upset, resulting in moderate to severe signs of vomiting and/or diarrhea. Some fertilizers may contain large quantities of iron and insecticides, which can lead to serious potentially life-threatening toxicity.
These products generally carry a higher threat to household pets. Depending on the product symptoms could include gastrointestinal upset, drooling, seizures and death. Always use extreme caution when using these products, follow the label directions carefully and store all product containers carefully in areas with no pet access.
As with most things careful planning will be the key to your garden's success. To ensure the best results for all members of your family it is advised that pets be restricted from garden areas. If you suspect that your pet has ingested plants or products from your (or a neighbor's lawn) contact a veterinarian or poison control center immediately.