Spring has sprung! It’s so nice out this time of year and your pets are probably spending a lot more time outside than they were just a few months ago. Despite all the pretty colors and abundant sunshine, spring also presents a new host of dangers to your dog or cat.
Spring is known for flowers, but some of them are as deadly as they are beautiful. Here are three spring flowers that can actually be toxic to pets.
Lilies are undeniably breathtaking, but the entire lily family should be “off limits” for your pet. (This is actually why you should also keep your pet away from onions; onions are technically part of the lily family!) They contain toxic alkaloids that are powerfully dangerous if ingested, particularly for cats. Day lilies and true lilies are especially harmful…just a mouthful of pollen from these plants can actually cause deadly toxicity in cats. Dogs are slightly more resistant to the overt toxicity of lilies, but they can become itchy or splotchy if exposed to the flowers.
Avoid: Day lilies, true lilies, Easter lilies, tiger lilies, daffodils
Begonias are colorful and inviting, so if your dog or cat is a digger, keep them far, far away. These flowers thrive in springtime in a wide variety of climates but their stems – particularly the part rooted underground – can cause acute toxicity if ingested by dogs and cats. If eaten, begonias can result in an extreme burning in your pet’s mouth, swollen tongue or lips, and even difficulty swallowing. If you suspect your animal has swallowed a begonia or begonia stem/bulb, get her to an emergency veterinary office right away for treatment.
Avoid: Begonia grandis, wax begonias, double begonias, fimbriata begonias
Azaleas are practically the official flower of spring, especially if you live in the Southeastern U.S. Related to rhododendrons, azaleas are a shrub plant that comes in a variety of sizes and colors and puts off a lovely flowery smell. Unfortunately, they’re incredibly toxic to almost all pets…even horses! Containing the potent neurotoxin grayonotonin, the flowers have the ability to disrupt the cells in a dog or cat’s body which can cause a litany of symptoms including blindness, vomiting, abnormal heart rate, and even death. Just a few ounces of azalea flowers are enough to cause severe toxicity in a large-sized dog.
Avoid: Formosa azaleas, spider azaleas, Gumpo pink azaleas, rhododendrons
Spring is delightful, but it’s also a good time to keep a close eye on your pet when she’s outdoors. No other season offers more blooming plants to tempt your pet…or more potential toxins.
Don’t allow your pet to eat anything growing outdoors unless you’re 100% sure what it is. In general, it’s not a good idea to encourage your pet to consume outdoor plants – it’s a habit that could come back to bite her if you’re not watching closely.