Plant toxicities in pets

Whether we are being festive and celebrating holidays or incorporating more greenery into our homes, we have to be careful about plants that we bring around our pets. Some plants can be mild all the way to extremely toxic to cats or dogs.

What is the danger?

There are many dangerous plants to our pets including exotic animals as well.  Decorative plants we may use in pots or bouquets such as lilies and even plants we may have in a garden such as onions can cause all different types of problems in pets.  There are numerous varieties of lilies from Tiger lilies to Day lilies and they all can cause serious harm to cats.  When cats ingest any part of the plant, leaves, petals or even pollen, severe toxicity can occur.  Outdoor plants such as sago palms, a common plant in backyards in California, can cause liver failure when any part of the plant is ingested.  Garden plants that may cause issues include onions, grapes and in high levels potatoes and tomatoes.


Symptoms will vary depending on which part of the body the plant targets.  Lilies and grapes affect pets kidneys.  The most common signs are issues with increased frequency of urination early on and then a lack of ability to urinate later and the toxicity progresses.  Sago palm seeds affect the liver and can cause intestinal upset.  Onions affect the blood cells and can cause pale gums, weakness and collapse.


Treatment will depend on the severity of the toxicity.  Due to the serious nature of lily toxicity in cats, veterinarians treat this with as much supportive care as possible.  Cats will die of lily toxicity if left untreated due to the severe strain it puts on the kidneys.  Grape and raisin ingestion can also cause severe kidney issues which are treated in a similar manor.  Most toxicities require supportive care and removal of as much of the toxin from the system as possible.

Categories: Pet Health Tips from the Helen Woodward Animal Center