Summer has finally arrived in the UK, and with the soaring temperatures and blue skies, we will start venturing back into our gardens. And not only will Brits be enjoying the lovely weather, but plants will also be thriving.
However, one thing that often gets overlooked is the potential hazard that some plants present to us and our furry friends.
ICE Headshop sought to reveal some of the most harmful plants you can encounter and how they might affect your pet, accompanied by research into some pet-friendly plant alternatives to create a safe garden environment.
The toxicity class guide
- Major toxicity – These plants may cause serious illness or death.
- Minor toxicity – Ingestion of these plants may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhoea.
- Oxalates – The juice or sap of these plants contains oxalate crystals. These needle-shaped crystals can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset.
- Dermatitis – These plants’ juice, sap, or thorns may cause a skin rash or irritation. Wash the affected skin area with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. The rashes may be very serious and painful.
Top five plants poisonous to pets
Azalea/Rhododendron – Class 1
As pretty as they may look with their vibrant flower heads in various colours, Rhododendrons are deadly to your pet. Falling under class 1 and boasting powerful toxicity, even the smallest ingestion of this plant can leave your furry friend seeking emergency medical attention, especially if your pet is of a smaller breed.
This plant is also not fit for human consumption and can pack a nasty punch – sometimes causing a threat to life – so it’s equally important to watch small children around this plant.
Yew – Class 1
The Yew plant or Taxus baccata also packs a powerful punch – only requiring a small handful of its needles to prove potentially fatal to your pet. This plant, unlike others, has the appearance of something that should be left alone, with its razor-sharp needles and red berries acting as a visual deterrent.
The Yew has proven to be so dangerous that a few seeds can prove fatal to children – meaning you should be extra vigilant if this features in your garden.
Hydrangea – Class 1 and 4
Although common, Hydrangeas identify as a class 1 and 4 toxicity plant, meaning they are a painful irritant and potentially deadly. Unlike Azaleas and Yew plants, your pet would need to consume a considerable amount of Hydrangeas before proving fatal; however, the toxins stored within this plant are linked to causing heart problems, which can sometimes lead to serious illness.
Daffodils – Class 2 and 4
Traditionally found in the springtime, Daffodils or Narcissus are a common flower that symbolises Easter; however, with many people digging up daffodil bulbs to plant afresh next year, daffodils should still be on your watch list this summer.
Unlike most other plants, the Daffodil is in classes 2 and 4, which means it has a ‘Minor’ toxicity rating and can have ‘Dermatitis’ effects. If any part of the plant is consumed, or the water they sit in is drunk, it could cause your pet discomfort or skin rashes.
Tulip – Class 2 and 4
Another plant which ranks in classes 2 and 4 is Tulips, which keen gardeners may also be digging up to plant out again next year. Tulip plants are considered mildly toxic to pets but can still present an unpleasant experience.
This plant’s stems, leaves and flowers all contain toxins that can affect animals, but these toxins are most commonly found in the bulbs, which are very concentrated. If eaten, they can leave your pet unwell and need a vet trip.
If your pet has consumed what you believe to be a poisonous plant, don’t hesitate to contact your vet, as they will offer the best advice on treating the issue.