A paper published earlier this month reviews the common household plants implicated in companion animal poisoning. There is an increasing risk of exposure to such plants, as pets are more often allowed and kept indoors, as well as pets’ continued curiosity. The following plants are discussed: Anthurium spp. (flamingo flower), Aucuba japonica (Japanese laurel), Cycas revoluta (sago palm), Cyclamen spp., Dieffenbachia spp., Dracaena marginata, Euphoria pulcherrima (poinsettia), Ficus benjamina (weeping fig), Lilium spp. (lilies)., Nandina domestica (sacred bamboo), Rhododendron spp., Spathiphyllum spp. (peace liliy), and Zantedeschia aethiopica (calla lily or arum lily).
The paper highlights the toxic effects of these plants, as well as discussing the data gathered from the literature and by veterinary poison centres. The toxicity of many plants is dependent on various factors, including the parts ingested, the vegetative state, and environmental condition in which the plant is kept. Not all the the plants listed above are a serious hazard to pets. Some such as poinesettia, have the reputation of being toxic but usually only cause gastroinestinal upset.
It is important to raise awareness of owners about the dangers of potentially toxic plants. If is also very helpful when owners know the names of the plants growing at home, so that if (or when) their pet is implicated in a poisoning case, the appropriate medical intervention can be implemented. This is highlighted in lily intoxication; in a previous study 87% of cats receiving prompt treatment developed no renal signs. Thus, immediate and aggressive care is crucial in some cases, and can determine the survival rate and speed of recovery.