Canine Column: Please don’t eat the daisies

By Marti Benson

I tell my husband I’m going out for hand sanitizer or butter; whatever.

In truth, I am sneaking off to buy plants. I am beside myself as I touch the velvety leaves, marvel at the colorful petals or breathe in the heady fragrances in the garden nursery. Surely he won’t notice one more geranium or tomato plant.

“This smells absolutely intoxicating!” I gush to a greenhouse employee, as I crush a lovely cluster of purple blooms to my mask.

“Heliotrope,” she smiles. “Be careful around pets, however. Poisonous.”

I am not sure if it was the hair on my capris that gave me away, or just a routine caution about the plant’s notorious reputation that made her utter those words— but I was thankful for the warning. Who hasn’t discovered a dreaded soggy stem or decapitated blossom lying in a puddle of dog saliva on the floor? Did Molly eat the whole plant? If she did, when did she do it? Or (in our case), was it Chip… or Ernie? As a gardener and owner of multitudes of flowers, herbs and whatever else I can clandestinely bring home, it’s a big task to keep up on what’s safe—and what’s dangerous—to my dogs.

Fortunately, the ASPCA website ( is a great resource for information regarding plant toxicity. It has a comprehensive—and printable– list of plants and how poisonous they are. Click on the highlighted name you need, and you will be able to find out how toxic that plant is; what part(s) of the plant are most poisonous; and what the symptoms are if your dog did ingest the plant.

The APCC (Animal Poison Control Center) number is, also, displayed at 1-888-426-4435. The information regarding the APCC states that it is open 24-hours a day; 365 days a year. There is, also, a mention that a consultation fee may apply.

Know the symptoms of plant poisoning. Mildly toxic plants might cause your dog to vomit or have diarrhea. Highly-toxic plants can also cause gastrointestinal disturbances — and include hypersalivation (lots of drooling), tremors, lethargy, depression and seizures. Call your vet or seek help immediately if your dog displays these severe reactions. Such symptoms can be life-threatening. Did you catch Maxwell in your perennial bed? Was Tucker nosing around your potted patio display? Keep a close eye on your furry friend.

For many of us—dogs, included—we can’t resist a good-smelling or pretty plant. We want to own them, nurture them, admire them … Make sure your plants are pet-friendly in case Murphy decides to eat them, too.

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