The weather is changing, and homeowners and apartment residents are flocking to plant nurseries in Rai looking for the perfect plants to decorate their homes, windows or balconies. The perfect plants, according to those shoppers, have to look admirable, waft a beautiful scent, be low maintenance or simply flowering. But the first thing they should be more concerned about is the traits and characteristics of these plants. Are they safe for children and pets?
“The problem is that younger children and dogs and cats have faster metabolism than human adults. Therefore, their body will have a quicker reaction to toxins. The younger the pet, it is more likely to be as curious as a young child and will try to put anything in its mouth to explore. The problem with cats and dogs is that when they feel that their body has a lot of worms, they clean it by eating grass. If they can’t find grass, they are going to eat any plant,” said Dr Nelson Gomez from the International Veterinary Hospital (IVH). “The most common toxic plant for pets in Kuwait is aloe vera. The plant is commonly used in beauty and personal care products, but it’s very toxic for cats and dogs. It can damage the kidney, cause vomiting and diarrhea,” he added.
Another common plant in Kuwait is amaryllis, also known as lily, which is poisonous to children and cats. It can also cause kidney damage and diarrhea in pets. The flower is beautiful to have at home, but recommended to be kept out of reach. Equally toxic are decorative palms, but these are not as popular in Kuwait as date palms. “Usually, the signs of poisoning are very difficult to know because we can’t determine the cause. We start asking until we can get a diagnosis,” Gomez explained. “When you bring a pet in the house, you are responsible to read about it. If you get a plant, it’s the same – you should read about it. All the plants that are toxic to children are unsafe for pets too,” he warned.
But nursery owners and employees do not educate their customers, or intentionally hide any useful information because they are apprehensive of losing business, while some of them do not have sufficient information about their plants. Nurseries that permitted Kuwait Times to take pictures of some toxic plants did not wish to be named.
Toxic Plants For Pets
1. Lilies (Lilium, all spp.): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause complete kidney failure in 36-72 hours. First symptoms appear in a few hours and may include appetite suppression, lethargy, vomiting. Cats are especially sensitive to lily poisoning, so be very careful to keep your cats away from lilies of any kind, including the Amaryllis, Easter lilies, and Stargazer lilies so often found in homes around the holidays.
2. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis): Ingesting any part of the plant can cause cardiac dysrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, weakness, and even death.
3. Anemone (Anemone and Pulsatilla, family Ranunculaceae): Irritating to the mucus membranes, and can cause blisters, hemorrhagic gastritis, shock, convulsions, and death.
4. Aloe Vera (family Liliaceae): Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.
5. Amaryllis (family Amaryllidaceae, incl. Hippeastrum spp.) All species, including Belladonna Lily, are toxic, and especially dangerous to cats. The bulbs are the toxic part of the plant. The “Amaryllis” commonly seen during the December holidays are Hippeastrum species. Symptoms include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, tremors.
6. Asparagus Fern (family Liliaceae): Allergic dermatitis, gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea.
7. Daffodil (Narcissus): Vomiting, diarrhea. Large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, cardiac arrhythmias.
8. Philodendrons: Irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips, tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.
9. Jade Plants (Crassula argentea): Vomiting, depressions, ataxia, slow heart rate.
10. Chrysanthemums: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, incoordination, dermatitis.
11. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum): The tubers or rhizomes contain the toxic glycoside cyclin, a terpenoid saponin. Ingestion can cause excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, or even death in rare cases.
12. Cycads (including Sago palm; cardboard palm; etc.): The “Sago palm” is a cycad, not a true palm, and all parts of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, melena (black “tarry” feces), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver failure, and death.
Source: UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
By Athoob A Al-Shuaibi