Flowers and plants are fun to look at and nice to have around, but did you know that certain ones can actually be pretty dangerous for your cat or dog? “While any plant material can cause mild stomach upset, some plants are much more dangerous,” says Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Wismer suggests ensuring that any flowers or plants you bring into your home are non-toxic, and no matter what type of flora you have, keep pets away as best as possible by keeping the plants on tabletops for small dogs, high shelving for larger pets, and behind closed doors for sneaky, curious cats. Karen Lawrence, director of The CFA Foundation and manager of the Feline Historical Museum, also suggests using hanging planters as a way to keep plants out of the reach of your pets.
As far as toxicity goes, this list should help the next time you’re plant and flower shopping.
Safe Flowers for Cats and Dogs
Safe flowers for cats and dogs include:
- Tulips: Cut flowers are OK, but the bulb contains allergic lactones that can cause drooling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, says Dr. Stephanie Liff, medical director at Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Hell’s Kitchen and Clinton Hill in New York. “More concerning would be an increased heart and respiratory rate, and sometimes difficulty breathing,” she adds. In general, these flowers are more commonly ingested by dogs, Liff warns, as they like to dig up and eat the bulbs when they’re planted outside.
- Daffodils: While some sources say cut flowers are fine, Liff warns that the toxin lycorine is present in all parts of the plant and can cause signs similar to tulips, but with abdominal pain, abnormal breathing, and cardiac arrhythmias. “It’s usually a mild toxin,” she adds, “but should be avoided.”
If you’re worried about bringing dangerous flowers into your home, stick with the above list and you should be fine. But like Wismer says, there is a scale in terms of how much damage some other plants and flowers can cause. “Members of the Lilium (true lilies) or Hemerocallis (day lilies) can cause kidney failure in cats, but only mild stomach upset in dogs,” she cautions. “Alstroemeria is commonly substituted for these toxic flowers in ‘pet safe’ bouquets.”
Keep in mind that even the water used to keep your plants and flowers fresh can cause problems. “Cats especially like to drink from vases, so make sure the cat cannot overturn heavy vases and hurt themselves,” Wismer adds. “Breakable vases can also be a hazard for your pets…and you, when you have to pick up the pieces.”
Liff says she sees a fair amount of pets come into her office who have ingested potentially hazardous plants or flowers, which would be the right way for owners to respond. “If you think your pet ate flowers and they may be toxic, definitely call your vet ASAP,” she recommends.