Poisonous plants are yet another danger of living in a mild climate and pet owners need to be aware of potential plant dangers to our canine companions in Tucson. People should not assume that their pets won’t eat a particular plant. Size and breed of your pet does NOT make a difference in their risk of toxicity.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has identified five common plants as being the most dangerous to dogs.

  • Lilies – These are No. 1 on the Most Dangerous List and about 45% of the calls to the ASPCA poison hotline concern ingestion of these flowers. Lilies are common in gardens and floral bouquets, especially at Easter time, but even a small amount eaten by a dog can cause severe kidney damage. Lilies are even more toxic to cats.
  • Azaleas (Rhododendrons) – Severe azalea poisoning can lead to coma and death. Even smaller amounts can cause vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and central nervous system depression.
  • Oleanders – This is a common landscaping plant in the Tucson area. Unfortunately, every part of the plant is toxic. Symptoms of oleander poisoning include abdominal distress, vomiting, drooling, hypothermia, and heart arrhythmias. It can often be fatal.
  • Sago palms – These ornamental plants are very popular in the Southwest. All parts of this palm are poisonous, but the seeds are the most toxic. Ingestion can produce vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizure and liver failure. Intestinal obstruction can occur in small dogs that swallow the seeds whole in addition to the toxicity issues they cause.
  • Castor beans – Another popular ornamental plant in the Southwest. The seeds, leaves and steam of the plant contain ricin (remember the poison attack on Japanese subway) and may produce abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and appetite loss.

Please be aware of these plants and keep them out of your yard. Should your pet ingest any of these – or other unknown plants – have your pet seen by a veterinarian immediately. Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and located at 4909 N La Canada Drive, Tucson AZ, 85704, 520-795-9955.

This list names some of the most common plants that can cause toxicity to your pet. If you have any questions regarding these or any other plant your pet may have ingested, you may also contact the ASPCA poison hotline at (888) 426-4435.