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An Ounce of Prevention

In spring, a young (old) man’s (lady’s) fancy turns to thoughts of…GARDENING! This year my longing to dig in the dirt has so far been thwarted by our, shall we say, lack of SPRING! I do, however, enjoy looking at posts from my English cousins whose gardens are coming into bloom, the odd gardening blog and the hopeful looking seed packets now prominently displayed at our local food emporium. Since moving here from Northern California (four years now) I have learned some interesting lessons about gardening in the upper Midwest. I say lessons, since I have had my fair share of garden casualties. You could ask about the 150 tulip bulbs I planted which the local rodent population quickly consumed. Their appetite for the delicacy depleted my crop to about six lovely, but lonely, blooms. But let’s not dwell on the past—rather, full steam ahead to planting and, if I am fortunate, enjoying the blossoming fruits of my labors in the dirt. All of which leads to this: a quick reminder of the hazards of plant life. Unlike the voracious rodents, our pets cannot always determine which of our favorite shrubs, bulbs and other garden lovelies are toxic. So, as a reminder, here is the perennial list with which most of us are familiar of plants that can do serious damage to our four footed family members. This list generally applies to dogs, cats, pet hamsters and the like, birds, and lizards. As always, consult your trusty veterinarian for a more complete understanding of toxic temptations. I have also included (courtesy of the ASPCA website) other non-plant items that have been known to cause harm to pets.


Algae Aloe Amaryllis Andromeda Japonica

Asian Lily Asparagus Fern Australian Nut Autumn Crocus

Azalea Belladonna Bird of Paradise Bittersweet

Black Locust Branching Ivy Buckeye Buddhist Pine

Caladium Calla Lily Castor Bean Ceriman

Clematis Cordatum Corn Plant Cycads

Cyclamen Daffodil Daylily Devil’s Ivy

Diffenbachia Dumbcane Easter Lily Elephant Ears

Emerald Fern English Ivy Eucalyptus Ferns

Fiddle Leaf

Philodendron Florida Beauty Foxglove Glacier Ivy

Gladiolas Gold Dust Dracaena Golden Pothos Heavenly Bamboo

Honeysuckle Hurricane Plant Hyacinth Hydrangea

Iris Jerusalem Cherry Jimson Weed Kalanchoe

Lantana All Lilium Species Lily of the Valley Lupine

Marble Queen Morning Glory Mother-in-law Mountain Laurel

Narcissus Needlepoint Ivy Nephthysis Nightshade

Oleander Panda Peace Lily Philodendron

Poison Hemlock Privet Red Emerald

Rhododendron Ribbon Plant Rosary Pea Sago Palm

Satin Pothos Schefflera Striped Dracaena Sweetheart Ivy

Tulip Water Hemlock Wisteria Yew



Chocolate Grapes Raisins Macadamia Nuts

Avocados Onions Garlic Salt

Tea Leaves Coffee Xylitol Alcohol

Raw Yeast Dough Spoiled Food Fatty Food

Note: Read your peanut butter label. Dogs are pretty nuts about peanut butter, but before you offer it as a treat, you’ll want to check the ingredients. Some brands contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is very dangerous to dogs.


Coins Buttons Jewelry Nylons

Yarn Thread Needles Batteries

Paper Clips Rubber Bands Twist Ties Plastic Wrap and Plastic Sheeting

Silverware Cotton Swabs Hair Pins Eye Glasses

Dental Floss Towels Razors Electrical Cords


Doorways Windows Balconies Gates

Fireplaces/Fire Pits


Ibuprofen Aspirin Acetaminophen Cold and Flu Meds

Antidepressants Vitamins Diet Pills Anti-Cancer Drugs

Tobacco Products Detergents Fabric Softener Drain Cleaners

Oven Cleaners Disinfectants Bleach Potpourri

Lime Remover Lead Paint Thinners Flea and Tick Products

Rodent Bait Mothballs Fly Bait Antifreeze/Coolant

Gasoline Oil Insecticides Pesticides

Fertilizer Cocoa Mulch Compost Non-Pet-Safe de-Icing Salt

Lighter Fluid Matches


Always keep human medication out of reach! Consumption of over-the-counter medication is the #1 reason why pet parents call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, followed by consumption of prescription meds.


Assorted Other Hazards In The Home:

Balloons Confetti Noise Makers Flowers

Chocolate Fake Grass Spring Bulbs Fireworks

Candy of All Kinds Turkey Bones Chicken Bones Holiday Tree

Light Strands Tinsel Electrical Cords Styrofoam

Bathtubs Sinks Toilets Washer/Dryer

Pool Hot Tub Grill

While this may sound a bit manic (even to me), hard learned lessons concerning a certain daughter’s Great Dane and his many emergency trips to the vet prove that the average home is a veritable mine field of hazards. Most of us use common sense most of the time, however, my hope is that this little reminder will save our beloved pets pain and suffering while reducing the number of emergency calls to the local vet. Here’s to a lovely spring in the garden and up at The Center. Remember that we are always happy to have committed volunteers either inside with the creatures, or outside in the garden. Dog walkers are always welcome! See you soon, I hope!

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