With the advent of autumn, it’s easy to think that the year’s gardening is over – until spring. But before retiring the spade to the shed for the next few months, it’s important to first find out if your autumn garden is harbouring any plants that could be dangerous to pets.
The 5 most harmful autumn plants:
- Acorns and conkers – If eaten in large quantities, they can be extremely toxic. The problem with acorns is that they are often consumed by pups who use them as chew toys. This can lead to them becoming lethargic, losing appetite and vomiting. Watch out for acorns and conkers hiding under piles of leaves. Unripe (green) acorns are the most harmful.
- Hydrangeas – The bulbs of these plants are highly toxic to pets, as they contain cyanide. Although serious cases of poisoning are rare, they can cause stomach problems, vomiting and intestinal blockages.
- Yew trees – The needles and seeds of a yew tree are extremely poisonous to most animals. Eating just the leaves can lead to dangerous consequences (even death in severe cases). The leaves are easily identifiable, so you should be able to spot them. It’s best to avoid planting this if you have pets.
- Horse chestnut trees – Be cautious around horse chestnut trees from September onwards. The tree bark, leaves and flowers can all be fatal to animals if consumed. It can cause gastrointestinal distress, disorientation, spasms and even death.
- Autumn crocuses – These flowers might be outwardly beautiful, but if ingested, they can cause general gastrointestinal upset, including drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. These flowers also bloom in spring.
Other deadly autumn plants:
- Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp): All parts are toxic to cats and dogs, but especially the bulbs. Also present in winter.
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum): All parts of the plant are toxic, although the smell is likely to deter dogs and cats.
- Oleander (Nerium oleander): All parts of the plant are toxic. Less than a handful of leaves can be fatal to dogs and cats. Also present in summer.
- Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea): All parts of this plant are poisonous, and even small doses can be fatal to cats and dogs. Also present in spring and summer.
How to avoid poisonous plants with your pets
If you happen to have any of these plants in your garden, you may want to take precautionary measures. Careful training, plant barriers or, if it comes to it, the removal of the plant or tree in question are all options to explore. It’s good practice (although often difficult) to avoid your pet coming into contact with these plants when out on walks or trips.
If your pet does ingest any plant matter that you know to be toxic, then act quickly and call the vet. With early treatment, the prognosis is usually good.
Read up on what plants to look out for and how to avoid them. A little bit of knowledge goes a long way.