It can happen to the most conscientious of pet owners. Your dog or cat gets interested in your cut flowers, a potted plant, or holiday houseplants — and before you know it, you have a very sick animal on your hands. That’s because some houseplants are highly toxic to animals, and a few of them actually cause liver failure, leading to death. So let’s think through ahead of time about what to do if your pet ingests a poisonous houseplant — after all, we love our animals and want to keep them safe.
Before we get into Pet 911, however, let’s remind ourselves that prevention is the best form of medicine — for households with very curious animals, that means removing all toxic plants from your indoor spaces. For animals that show no interest in plants at all, it’s still best to place any known toxic plant out of reach of your pet.
And finally, copy and print this emergency checklist and keep it on your refrigerator door. I hope you never have to use it, but when there’s an emergency, the last thing you need to do is a panicked Internet search.
1. Take a deep breath but act quickly.
2. Remove the plant from your pet’s mouth if possible.
3. Gently rinse the mouth out with water.
4. Identify the offending plant, if possible.
5. Quickly observe the symptoms (foaming at the mouth, vomiting, etc.).
6. Call your pet’s veterinarian (have the number printed on your checklist) or the ASPCA Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435.
It’s important to note that if you call a pet poison control number, there may be a fee attached to this service. And remember — it’s also reassuring to know that while some toxic houseplants can kill, your pooch will likely consume just enough to simply make him uncomfortable. Many times, the mouth-burning sensation is enough to stop your furry friend in her tracks.