Vol 9 No 2


Spring 2007


Front Page

Features in this Issue:

Is Your Garden Good or Evil?

Top 10 Poisonous Plants

Toxic Plants

Close Encounter of the Wrong Kind

When Is Warm Too Warm

Thank You

Fond Farewells

Letters to GRRI-NJ


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Is Your Garden Good Or Evil?


SPRING – a time of growth, renewal and new life.  Nature slowly awakens. Flowers begin to bloom and tender green shoots sprout from tree limbs.  Days become warmer and longer as the earth tilts towards the sun.  Animals give birth as the cycle of life begins again.  Winter is officially over.

The gardeners amongst us look forward to “digging in the dirt” and feeling the sun warm our backs.  Of course our canine friends joyfully join us, digging with glee.

But did you know that many of those plants, bulbs, shrubs and mulches that were carefully selected to enhance your yard can be harmful to your four-legged friends?  Symptoms can vary from mild gastric distress to severe cardiac, kidney or liver damage, and even death.

What should you do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned?

Don’t panic. Your dog’s life depends on you remaining calm and gathering as much information as you can as quickly as possible, prior to calling the ASPCA Poison Control Center.  Try to determine what the dog has eaten and how much.  If possible, note the name of the plant and the manufacturer. Write down any symptoms the dog may be experiencing.  Be prepared to give the age, weight, sex and breed of the dog.  Save any vomit or uneaten pieces of the plant. You may be instructed to take the plant to your nearest garden center or agricultural center for identification if you are unsure of what it isAccording to the ASPCA, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING unless you are instructed to do so by a veterinarian.  Once you have quickly gathered this pertinent information, call the Poison Control Center’s toll free number 1-888-426-4435.  There may be a $55 consultation fee for their service so have your credit card number available.  You will be assigned a case number which should be written down in your dog’s medical file. If you are instructed to bring your dog to your veterinarian or closest emergency hospital for treatment, they will need to have this case number to refer to should the PCC need to be called for further guidance.  According to the SPCA, if the dog is having seizures, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, call your veterinarian or emergency hospital immediately to alert them that you are bringing in a dog that you suspect has been poisoned.  They can prepare for your arrival and contact the Poison Control Center from their facility if needed.

Fertilizers and Pesticides are also a threat to our pets.  Dogs and cats walk and lie on the chemically treated areas and then ingest these chemicals by licking their feet and their bodies.  They are also more susceptible to the chemical smells since they are structurally closer to the ground and therefore breathe in more concentrated amounts of the fumes than we would.  If you must use any type of treatment, try to select safe, organic products.  Always follow the directions listed on the label, and do not let your dog out in the yard until the time listed on the label has lapsed. 

Ingestion of large amounts of fertilizer can cause severe gastric distress due to the presence of heavy metals like iron.  Gastric blockage can also occur.

The most dangerous forms of pesticides are mole or gopher bait, fly bait and most forms of rat poison.  Pesticides should only be used in areas that are inaccessible to your pets at all times.  They should be stored in a safe area and in accordance with the package directions. 

A good rule to follow:  if it’s not safe for your child to walk on or ingest, then it’s not safe for your dog either.  It’s up to us to choose wisely and keep our pets as safe as we possibly can.

Cocoa Bean Mulch contains spent cocoa beans which are residue from chocolate production.  The beans contain two stimulants, Theobromide and Caffeine.   Dogs are very sensitive to these chemicals, and when ingested in low doses, they can cause GI upset – i.e., vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.  In higher doses, rapid heart rate, convulsions, muscle tremors and death can occur.  Dogs are particularly attracted to the sweet smell.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers a free magnet that may be placed on your refrigerator. This is a great way to keep their toll-free emergency number and website address handy in case of an emergency.  To order your free magnet, visit their website:  http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_apcc_magnet   

Source:  ASPCA website 

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is staffed by 25 veterinarians, including nine Board-certified toxicologists and 14 certified veterinary technicians.  It is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.