ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center warns pet owners about deadly plant
Since a gardener’s Eden can quickly turn to purgatory for inquisitive pets, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reminds us that many plants and flowers have the potential to cause life-threatening illnesses in both dogs and cats.
One such plant, and a favorite of many gardeners, is Brunfelsia, also known as “Morning, Noon, and Night” or “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” An ornamental plant that thrives in the gardens of warmer climates, or year-round in pots, Brunfelsia has fragrant flowers that bloom in a vivid purple and gradually change to lavender before fading to white.
According to a recently-published study by Dr. Safdar Khan, veterinary toxicologist for the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, dogs seem to be particularly attracted to the plant’s seeds and berries and are most susceptible to Brunfelsia poisoning. From 2001 to 2006, the Center treated 38 cases, mostly from California, involving 42 dogs. Of these cases, three dogs died as a result of ingesting the plant.
This Web site has many photos of the seeds and blossoms of the Brunfelsia plant:
The most commonly affected breeds are Labrador and golden retrievers. Uncommonly lively and active, these dogs can be more likely to get into the plants’ seeds and leaves.
“If pets consume any part of the plant, they can become ill within hours and develop gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as tremors, seizures and muscle rigidity that makes the animal appear to be in a ‘sawhorse’ stance, closely resembling the signs of ingestion of the once-common rodent poison, strychnine,” says Dr. Khan. “Brunfelsia toxicity can progress very rapidly to a potentially lethal situation, so it’s critical that pet parents seek immediate veterinary care.”
One California-based dog experienced stiff limbs and excessive drooling after ingesting several seeds from the plant. After speaking with Dr. Paul Eubig, another toxicologist at the Center, the dog’s owner brought the suffering canine to a local veterinarian, who provided supportive care.
Another case involved a young terrier puppy in Florida who developed life-threatening seizures after consuming part of a Brunfelsia plant. With the owner taking advantage of the Center’s resources, as well as the services of a local emergency veterinarian, the dog eventually made a full recovery. “The veterinarian administered medication to treat the seizures,” says Dr. Hansen. “The pup is happy and healthy today as result of his owner’s immediate action.”
As with any toxins, you should take the necessary precautions to prevent your furry family members from coming into contact with Brunfelsia. Consider keeping the plant in an area where pets can’t reach it or replace it with a non-toxic alternative.
Frankly, if you have pets you shouldn’t be keeping this plant — or ANY toxic plants — in your house or on your property.
NON-TOXIC PLANT LIST
For a list of non-toxic plants visit: http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_apcc_nontoxicplants
TOXIC PLANT LIST
It’s always good to keep yourself updated on what plants are poisonous to your pets. Here’s a list: http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_apcc_toxicplants
ASPCA’S POISON CONTROL CENTER
You can also find out more about the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center at http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pro_apcc
Check this stuff out. The life you save may be that of your beautiful and beloved pet. /Gary