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Protecting Your Dog from Poisonous Plants


Every dog needs to spend ample time outdoors going on walks and playing in the yard.  If you live in a location with a lot of ferns, ivy, flowers, and shrubs, however, you need to take extra steps to protect your pet from toxic exposure.  As a human being, you really only need to worry about running into poison oak or poison ivy.  Dogs however can have adverse reactions to many plants which are innocuous to humans.  Sometimes brushing against a toxic plant is enough to cause a reaction.  Other times, dogs get sick because they eat a plant they shouldn’t.


The list of toxic plants which can harm your dog is huge.  The ASPCA provides a great resource.  On this page, you can view photographs of plants which have harmful effects on dogs.  That way you not only know their names, but also know what to keep on the lookout for.  On the same site, you can view photos of plants which are not toxic to plants (helpful if your dog has eaten something unfamiliar, and you want to identify it for peace of mind).


How can you protect your dog from toxic plants?  Here are a few suggestions:


  • Start by familiarizing yourself with plants in your area which may be toxic to your pets. 


  • You may want to keep a handy list of some of the most common hazards handy, along with photographs and instructions in case your dog gets poisoned.  Prevention is of course best, but all it takes is turning your head at the wrong moment.  You need to keep emergency instructions on hand.


  • Have your veterinarian’s number in a handy location so that you can call straight away if something happens.  You should also always carry a copy of the number with you when you head out of the house.


  • If you have plants in your home which are toxic to your dog, either remove them entirely, or place them out of reach.  A plant up on top of your refrigerator or up on a high shelf is not going to pose a hazard. 


  • Do you have any plants in your yard which are dangerous to your dog?  You should remove them and plant something else in their place which will not be dangerous to your pet.  When you buy seeds or bulbs at the store, be sure you have your dog’s safety in mind first.


  • Get a first aid kid for your pet.  This can include supplies like gauze and activated charcoal. 


  • Consider purchasing boots for your dog.  Dog boots for hiking are great not only for when you hit the trails, but also for when you are walking close to home on residential sidewalks.  If your dog is wearing boots and steps on poison ivy, he may actually avoid contact with the plant, which may prevent a reaction.  Dog jackets and other attire can be helpful for this as well, so long as it isn’t a hot time of the year. 


  • Either purchase pet insurance, or start up an emergency fund for your dog.  While many plants only cause a minor reaction like a brief upset stomach, others may cause a rapid and dangerous reaction which requires a visit to the pet ER.  This can be quite expensive out-of-pocket, so if you do not have dog insurance, be sure to have a fund just for this purpose.  You will be very glad of it when the time comes.


With so many plants posing health hazards to dogs, it can be a challenge to make sure your pet is safe.  Start by taking poisonous plants out of your own home or placing them high up out of reach.  Make sure you are not planting toxic flowers in your garden, and watch your pet carefully when you go out for a walk or play in the yard!


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