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Gardening column: Keeping your pets safe from toxic plants

Friday, November 8, 2013 - 8:29 am

Dogs and cats prefer a meat diet, but both will nibble on grass and sometimes plants other than grass. Pet owners should learn which plants are toxic to pets and avoid having them in the home.

The following list of plants may help you decide to replace certain plants you now have, or according to the pet you own, make certain they are located where the pet cannot reach them.

•A partial list of common houseplants that are toxic to dogs and cats are: caladium, all philodendrons, aloe, amaryllis, arrow head vine, asparagus fern, dieffenbachia, Chinese evergreen, jade, dracaena, dumbcane – and many others.

•The following list is considered safe for both dogs and cats: African violet, American rubber plant, bamboo palm (most palms), baby's tears, peperomia, bromeliad, Boston fern (most ferns), burro's tail, orchids, dwarf palm, chickens and hens, Christmas cactus, false aralia, and gloxinia (just to name a few).

•Here is a link to the ASPCA site that will help you plan your garden indoors and out so you can provide a safe environment for your pet: http://tinyurl.com/nxd8y7g.

•If your cat is allowed to roam the garden, owners should avoid planting true lilies — this includes the tiger, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese varieties.

Just a few leaves or petals of these plants can cause kidney failure and death in cats. Daylilies, although not true lilies, can cause kidney failure as well.

•If dogs eat any part of these plants, they also can have digestive problems, and although it is less serious than in cats, they can become very sick.

•It is a good idea to remember this when bringing home cut flowers. Often a bouquet will contain lilies mixed with other flowers that could be toxic to cats.

•Many herbs and edible plants are safe around pets, but there are a few that are not, such as the stems and leaves of potatoes and tomatoes. These can also make humans sick, so it is important to watch young children when in the vegetable garden.

• Plants in the allium family (onions, scallions, leeks, garlic, and chives) present a health hazard for cats and dogs. Cats are especially attracted to chives because of their grasslike appearance, and although they aren't as lethal as some members of the allium family, they should be kept out of their reach.

•Although there are many noxious plants, most cats and dogs, given the option, will nibble on grass rather than most other kinds of greenery. Pet owners are more likely to lose pets to chemical pesticides that are used on the lawn and plants, including plants in the house. Keeping poisons out of your pets' reach and using natural methods to control pests and disease will eliminate many of the more common poison hazards.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to jaf701@frontier.com. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.