It’s officially spring! If you’re anything like us, you’re eager to trade in your snow shovel for a garden shovel. But pet parents should note that while gardens and yards are great spots for relaxation on a spring day, many of our favorite spring flowers and planets may be toxic to our cat and dog companions. This year, whether you’re getting ready to plant your garden or you’re just looking to add a little bit of green to your home, be wary of these popular but poisonous plants so you’ll keep your pets happy and healthy this season.
Steer Clear of Lilies and Oleander. Lilies may look pretty, but they are considered especially toxic to cats. Even ingestions of very small amounts can cause severe kidney damage in our furry friends. Oleander can cause serious health problems including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.
Be Careful with Tulips. These popular spring bulb plants add much to our gardens, but can cause significant stomach problems when ingested by our pets. The bulb portion contains toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and even cardiac abnormalities.
Say No to Azalea and Rhododendron. These favorites contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in our furry friends. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and even death.
Avoid Sago Palm. All parts of this common house plant are considered poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain a large amount of toxin. Even ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and liver failure.
Pass on the Cocoa Mulch. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch attracts dogs with its sweet smell—and like chocolate, it can cause problems for our canine friends. Depending on the amount, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs from vomiting and diarrhea to muscle tremors, elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark.
If your pet likes to stop and smell the flowers, it’s important to not leave him or her unsupervised where these plants may be present. Want more information or have greenery in your home or garden that you’re not sure is toxic or not? Please visit our full list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
As always, if you suspect your pet has ingested something poisonous, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
We are happy to report two significant state-level wins for horses in the past few days that will ensure horses have more options to protect them from slaughter:
Nevada Finalizes Wild Horse Agreement With Wild Horse Protection Group: Return to Freedom, the founding organization of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) reached an agreement to humanely manage more than 1,500 horses in the Virginia Range, which encompasses more than 280,000 acres. This precedent-setting agreement launches the largest-ever private-public partnership to manage horses while improving public safety and benefiting Nevada taxpayers.
Kentucky Gov. Signs Bill to Assist Stray Horses: Governor Steve Beshear enacted a measure to reduce the hold period for stray horses from 90 days to 15 days to enable the rescue and care of those horses. By shortening the amount of time a horse must be held before being re-homed, costs for local officials are significantly reduced and will enable a great deal more rescue work for horses in need. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 312, which takes effect on June 24, 2015, Kentucky had the second-longest hold period in the country at 90 days. This new law brings Kentucky more in line with bordering states that all have 10-day hold periods.
The ASPCA stepped in to provide grants for diversionary feeding, fencing and other management tools and we worked to help enact these reforms knowing these victories will pave the way for further assistance from local and national organizations. Importantly, these horses now have more options, which will help keep them off the auction block and out of slaughter plants.
As part of the ASPCA’s goal to end the slaughter of American horses, we work to pass legislation that protects horses from this predatory industry, including pushing for a full federal ban on horse slaughter. We also work to provide options for at-risk horses through grant-making, education and equine programs that support the horse-rescue community, offering more than $1.1 million in equine grants in 2014 alone.
It’s amazing what a difference the perfect home can make. Sometimes, animals who seem fearful or reserved will blossom into social, friendly pets just by landing in the right environment. In the case of a five-year-old Dalmatian named Hazel, the perfect home was all it took to let her personality shine. Here’s her Happy Tail.
The ASPCA rescued Hazel from cruelty in 2010. She was just a puppy at the time and it didn’t take long for her to find a home. We celebrated Hazel’s adoption and then returned our focus to the hundreds of dogs still under our care. A year went by, then another and another, until all of a sudden we got a phone call from her adopter in May 2013. Hazel wasn’t doing well.
Although the spotted pup’s adopters loved Hazel, she just wasn’t thriving in their home. She had put on a lot of weight and was showing signs of aggression. In addition, she was suffering from a leg injury that left her limping and uncomfortable. With a heavy heart, the adopters acknowledged that they couldn’t care for a dog of her size and needs, so they made the decision to do what they thought was best for Hazel: they returned her to the ASPCA.
It had been three years since we had seen Hazel, and when she arrived, she wasn’t in great shape. Her leg injury had made exercise difficult, and as a result, she became morbidly obese at 86-lbs. She was also reactive to other dogs and fearful of strange objects. We knew that it would take some time to help Hazel get ready for adoption again.
Over the next year and a half, Hazel received surgery, including the insertion of a metal plate and screws to repair a torn ligament in her knee, and was put on a strict weight-loss diet and socialization routine. When she was finally ready for adoption in February 2014, we hoped that the process would be as easy as it had been the first time around, but we weren’t quite so lucky. Nine months went by before Samantha F. and her boyfriend, Paul, stepped through our doors.
Samantha and Paul both had dogs growing up, so when they moved into a big apartment they decided it was finally time to adopt a pet of their own. They met Hazel on their first trip to the ASPCA Adoption Center, and they were instantly intrigued by the beautiful pooch. We filled them in on her history and had a frank conversation about her medical and emotional needs, but the couple was undeterred.
“I could immediately tell that she was the perfect dog for us,” Samantha recalls. “We fell in love with her story and couldn’t imagine leaving her in her kennel for another day.” With no hesitation, they adopted Hazel and brought her home to their Queens, New York, apartment. Samantha adds, “With everything she’s been through, she deserved a second chance at life.”
And what a difference that second chance has made. Within a few weeks, the Hazel we had known—fearful, wary, overweight—had all but disappeared under Samantha and Paul’s care. When we asked for an update, Samantha gushed, “Hazel transformed and exceeded our expectations! Through her time at home, she has been weaned off of all pain and anxiety medication. Her behavioral evaluation said she would never be a ‘dog-park dog,’ but now she loves going and is extremely social and friendly with the other dogs there. Even strangers fall in love with her, too.”
The ASPCA staff is overjoyed to hear of Hazel’s success. She is proof that there’s just no substitute for the perfect home—and that every animal deserves a chance to shine. Samantha says, “We feel extremely blessed to have Hazel,” but we know that for this Dalmatian, Samantha and Paul’s home was “just the spot.”
We think people who report animal abuse should be applauded, not prosecuted. But in states across the country, "ag-gag" billshave been introduced to criminalize the exposure of illegal, unethical and dangerous activities taking place on industrial farms.
If people can’t speak out about what they see in factory farms, horrific animal abuse, food safety problems, and environmental and human rights violations may go undiscovered and uncorrected. Some of these laws can even shield puppy mill operators from prosecution!
We don’t think Americans should be kept in the dark, and we need your help to take a stand against these dangerous laws.
Help us generate 10,000 social media posts against ag-gag by visiting aspca.org/openthebarnsand sharing one of our images along with the hashtag #OpenTheBarns. Then sign our pledge to be an Open Barns Advocate and we’ll keep you informed on more ways you can take action.