Ah, spring - finally!! We're all looking forward to spending more time outdoors, but before you start putting out your lawn chairs and soaking up some rays with your pups, check for these common garden and yard hazards.
Lilies - Not all lilies are toxic, but the most dangerous are the “true” lilies, including the Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show lilies. While toxic to dogs, they are HIGHLY toxic to cats. Even a couple petals can be very dangerous, so keep an eye on those Easter gifts, inside or outside of the home.
Hydrangeas - Hydrangeas can cause serious gastrointestinal issues when ingested (the leaves and flowers contain the highest concentrations of toxins). Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.
Daffodils - The flowers and leaves are toxic, but the bulbs are particularly dangerous; they can cause vomiting, extreme salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias.
Oleanders - Oleanders can cause colic, diarrhea, drooling, vomiting, tremors, seizures, respiratory distress, and cardiac failure. Oleanders are dangerous to multiple species (cats, dogs, horses, cattle, and humans) so it’s best to keep all of your animals far away.
Azaleas - In addition to the usual gastrointestinal symptoms, azaleas may cause confusion, lack of coordination, or even paralysis.
Other common yard items that can pose a danger to pets include:
Fertilizers – If you have pets, it’s best to avoid fertilizing your lawn if at all possible. If you must fertilize, keep them inside while any sprays are being put down so that they don’t get anything on their paws to lick later.
Swing sets - Wooden play sets produced prior to 2003 may be constructed of arsenic-treated wood, which is toxic to both people and animals. You will want to keep all swing sets in good repair to prevent splintering. The splinters can be dangerous should your pet swallow or step on them. Also, wooden play sets are vey attractive to bees and wasps; ask your local exterminator for tips on keeping stinging insects at bay.
Garages and sheds - Though it’s handy to have a shed or garage in your backyard, there are many things typically stored there that could prove dangerous to your pets, such as fertilizers and insecticides. Fluids that contain ethylene glycol (which has a sweet taste) are also very dangerous; these include antifreeze, windshield de-icing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, photo developing solutions, paints, solvents, etc. Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal unless treated immediately.
What to do in an emergency
If you notice symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., the first thing to do is consult your vet. They will most likely ask you about your yard and home and potential dangers your pet may have encountered. If you know what your pet has ingested, or have a range of potential culprits, bring the plants or containers to the vet if possible so they can develop the most effective treatment plan.