HEALTH AND WELLNESS
It's never too late to paws and breathe.
IT'S good to have a garden, even a small one, if you have pets. What's even better, however, is a garden with plants that are non-toxic to animals so they can stop and smell the flowers or chew a leaf here and there without getting sick.
The website of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®) has a long list of plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats in varying degrees. The plants on the list have been reported to have systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on their gastrointestinal tract.
We scrounged that list for plants that are commonly found in the Philippines, both toxic and non-toxic, and the result might surprise you.
COMMON PLANTS TOXIC TO CATS & DOGS
A succulent flowering tropical plant with petals fused into a tube. The common colors of its flowers are yellow, red, red orange and pink.
Additional Common Names: Mother-In-Law-Plant, Devils Backbone, Chandelier Plant, Mother of Millions
Toxic Principles: Bufodienolides
Clinical Signs: vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm (rare).
A perennial flowering plant with aromatic flower clusters (called umbels) that can be a mix of red, orange, yellow, or blue and white florets.
Additional Common Names: Shrub Verbena, Yellow Sage, Red Sage
Toxic Principles: Pentacyclic triterpenoids
Clinical Signs: vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing, weakness and liver failure (though more common in livestock).
This plant is extensively cultivated as a flowering evergreen ornamental plant. Because the plants are low and spread quickly, they are often used as ground cover in garden landscapes and container gardens.
Additional Common Names: Running Myrtle, Vinca
Toxic Principles: Vinca Alkaloids
Clinical Signs: vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, depression, tremors, seizures, coma, death.
Commonly grown as ornamental houseplants for their bright colorful flowers, which have sepals but no petals.
Additional Common Names: Over 1,000 species and 10,000 hybrids
Toxic Principles: Soluble calcium oxalates
Clinical Signs: kidney failure (in grazing animals), vomiting, salivation in dogs/cats. Most toxic part is underground.
This plant features large round flowerheads resembling pom-poms. In most species the flowers are white, but in some species (notably H. macrophylla), can be blue, red, pink, light purple, or dark purple.
Additional Common Names: Hortensia, Hills of Snow, Seven Bark
Toxic Principles: Cyanogenic glycoside
Clinical Signs: vomiting, depression, diarrhea. Cyanide intoxication is rare (usually produces more of a gastrointestinal disturbance).
This prolific plant is widely seen in South Asia. Garden shops sell them for cheap, too, as an ornamental plant for annual bedding or as a container plant. In the Philippines, it is also called uru-alas dose or like twelve o'clock because it loses its bloom by noon.
Additional Common Names: Moss Rose, Rock Moss, Purslane, Pigwee, Pusley
Toxic Principles: Soluble calcium oxalates
Clinical Signs: kidney failure (rare in dogs/cats), tremors, salivation
This vine can be seen in its full glory in the morning, hence the name. The blue flowers bloom early in the early morning and start to close or fade a few hours before the "petals" start showing visible curling.
Toxic Principles: Indole alkaloids (Lysergic acid, lysergamide, elymoclavine and chanoclavine)
Clinical Signs: Vomiting, large amounts of seeds may cause hallucinations
Interestingly, the ASPCA classified Catnip (a.k.a catswort or catmint) to be possibly toxic to cats due to the Nepetalactone element found in the plant. Many cats love catnip, the ASPCA said, but it can also cause vomiting and diarrhea in some. It makes some cats sedated and others stimulated.
Following ASPCA's list of poisonous plants to pets, it would be best to plant the following non-toxic plants which are also very common in the Philippines:
COMMON PLANTS NON-TOXIC TO CATS & DOGS
This hardy plant is like a staple in many gardens around the country. They can have yellow, pink, red and sometimes white and light purple flowers.
Additional Common Names: Iron Tree, Maui Sunset, Flame of the Woods
This plant can produce flowers almost all year if the climate is not too hot. The largest impatiens grow up to about 2 meters. It has flat petals in vibrant colors.
Additional Common Names: Giant Touch-Me-Not, Buzzy Lizzy, Patient Lucy, Patient Plant, Tangerine Impatience
This succulent looks like a flower itself given its compact rosettes of succulent fleshy, often brightly colored leaves. It is often seen being sold along various kinds of cacti.
Additional Common Names: Maroon Chenille Plant, Painted Lady, Copper Rose, Wax Rosette, Plush Plant
This plant has an interesting way of turning red at its center when it's about to flower, which is where the common name (blushing) is derived from.
Additional Common Names: Crimson cup, Marbled fingernail, Blushing Bromeliad, Ossifragi Vase, Miniature Marble plant, Aregelia
Popularly known as gumamela in the Philippines, it's a pet-safe plant that can beautify any garden with its single or multi-petal flowes in red, orange, yellow, pink colors, among others.
Additional Common Names: Rose of Sharon, Rose of China
We believe everyone knows what a rose is so we'll skip the description. This plant is thorny, which can be good and bad for marauding pets in the garden. But even humans eat its petals, so it's safe for pets, too.
Scientific Name: Rosa species
Like the rose, sunflower is a very familiar plant. It's good to know it's safe to have around in a house with pets. Humans either eat or extract the oil of sunflower seeds.
Additional Common Names: swamp sunflower
Philippines' national flower, the Arabian Jasmine, is safe for pets, if they happen to eat it.
Scientific Name: Jasminium species
The delicate Petunia produces large single or double flowers that form mounds of colorful solid, striped, or variegated blooms. They are usually planted on hanging pots.
Scientific Name: Petunia species
The ASPCA highly recommends bringing an animal or pet that is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance to a veterinarian right away. To know more about plants that can be harmful to your pets, visit the ASPCA website. -- MetroPets
* First aid treatment for toad poisoning in dogs