Keeping You Safe: Toxic plants for pets to avoid

“I so wish the pet parent knew ahead of time that the plant was toxic.”
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:31 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - A pretty plant may look great in your home, but it can pose a deadly threat to your four-legged family member.

“The biggest ones that I see are Sago Palms. That’s a short, fuzzy-looking palm tree. A lot of folks have them in their backyard or it’s along the houses or on the beach or in the neighborhood,” said Dr. Laura Black, the owner of Coastal Veterinary Care in Carolina Forest. “I so wish the pet parent knew ahead of time that the plant was toxic.”

Black who is also the medical director, said all parts of a Sago Palm are toxic. If your pet ingests the plant, look for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of Energy
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Yellow tint to skin, whites of eyes or gums

“Unfortunately, a lot of these kiddos go into liver failure and they don’t recover. There’s less than a 50% chance survival rate. So, it’s really severe toxicity. Probably, one of the worst that exists for dogs, especially in cats,” she said.

Another toxic plant is the Azalea Bush. It’s a colorful shrub that blooms bell-shaped flowers in your neighborhood. Black said both cats and dogs should steer clear because if not, they could experience vomiting and diarrhea.

“In severe cases, they can even have seizures and cardiac issues arise, as well,” said Black.

Lastly, watch out for Lillies. It’s a show-stopping flower full of brightly colored petals that often decorate your garden or home. Black said if dogs eat the plant, they’ll get an upset stomach but it could be fatal for felines.

“What a lot of folks don’t realize is if you have a Lily sitting in a beautiful vase on your counter, it doesn’t mean the kitty cat has to eat a whole bunch of it. If they even sniff or lick the pollen off, let’s say their paws, or drink the water from the vase. We all know cats like to crawl into things, they can within one to three days develop kidney failure,” Black said.

She said the prognosis varies. A veterinarian can help protect the liver if it’s caught early enough. But, it could turn fatal if left untreated.

Chief Photographer George Hansen volunteered his pup, Maestro, so Black could demonstrate how she checks a sick dog.

“What I’m looking for is if his gums are pink and they are. If the gums are pale or yellow, or blue or purple in color, those could indicate different issues.”

Black also checked his heart rate and his temperature.

“Pets temperature runs higher than a human’s temperature so don’t let it scare you. But, normal for most dogs is 99 to 102.5 Fahrenheit.”

It’s important to call your vet right away along with poison control or the pet poison helpline.


“They could give you the best advice for decontamination. They may recommend perhaps induced vomiting in the K9 or feline. If it’s been a recent ingestion,” said Black.

But, be aware that your vet bill could become a pricey one. Black said pet parents could shell out anywhere from $80 to $3,000 depending on the severity of the case.

“We think every parent should invest in pet insurance because while veterinary medicine is much more affordable than human medicine. Unfortunately, folks pay out of pocket for it so it can add up very quickly,” Black said.

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