No, the products that nature has to offer are not all good for your health! Even organic… Indoor plants, garden plants, food plants… Some are poisonous, even deadly, especially to our pets. What are the top 5 most poisonous plants for our dogs and cats?
On this question began an interesting exchange with Gilbert Gault, a good specialist in “veterinary toxinology”, that is to say natural plant toxins. Veterinary toxicologist at CNITV (National Center for Veterinary Toxicological Information) in Lyon and Nantes, he is also a man determined to be kind to his specialty.
A word about the two veterinary poison control centers
1976: the 1er CNITV was produced in Lyon, a second following 1990, in Nantes. “Very few veterinarians are specifically trained in toxicology, says Gilbert Gault, their training in this field has become minimal. This further justifies the existence of CNITV in Lyon and Nantes, which provides free advice / expertise to veterinarians and individuals.
CNITV (click here) is independent, has received no public subsidy and has operated Europe’s leading veterinary poison control center in terms of the number of calls for more than 40 years (7 days a week receiving more than 22,000 calls by 2021). Most calls are concerned with dogs, but they can be concerned with any breed of animal. 61% of calls were from veterinarians and 38% from individuals. “It’s free, but there are veterinarians who don’t know it exists! The specialist complained.
In each animal its toxicity
“Every pet has its own known poisoning, Gilbert Gault recalls. That of the dog is different from the cat, guinea pig, rabbit, horse … because they don’t have the same habit. In general, the important thing is emergencies have to do with horses and cattle because, like herbivores, they ingest many plants. So the level of poisoning is completely different and can be fatal within 48 hours. »
“When it comes to dogs and cats, the difference is significant: for 1 drunk cat, we have 9 drunk dogs. The cat has a more suspicious behavior, it touches the foot as the dog approaches its mouth. Young dogs are especially exposed, which do not hesitate to bite or swallow everything, usually out of laziness. The level of exposure, as well as the type of poisonous plants differs between these two breeds. »
The top 5 most poisonous plants for dogs
1- At the top of the ranks, without a doubt: oleander, whose “cardiotoxic molecules are extremely powerful” emphasizes Gilbert Gault. You could say to yourself that you are right: but the dog has a sense of smell 10,000 times stronger than the human, right? That’s right, so accidents rarely happen and not on fresh plants! “The plant emits a dangerous signal that can stop the dog,” the specialist explained. On the other hand, he can bite it when the plant is frozen or after pruning, when the leaves are dry. All parts of the plant are dangerous to consume: leaves, flowers, stems, fruits, seeds and they retain their poisonous power even when dry. But again, exceptional circumstances are required for intoxication to occur. For example, we know very few calls from the south of France, but rich in oleander. »
2- onion, common plant food in cooking cooking, available in 2e position. “Especially organic, the toxicologist determined, its concentration on toxic principles is 6 times greater. People eat it in small quantities, usually cooked, their red blood cells resist it. To give you an idea, if we eat 100 g of onion, we are in the worst disease; if the dog eats 10 g, he is dead, his red blood cells will explode.Rare accidents, can happen it happens when the onion is left after cooking, and the dog eats it out of laziness. I have also met the case of a master who, without a ball, plays with his dog and onion! »
3- Ficus benjamina: “This plant, which is very common in our interiors, is not very marketable now, Mr. angry. Gault. It is white latex, at the time of cutting, which contains toxic principles. »
4- The plant of Cannabis. “You know the cannabis leaves lying on the coffee table” at a friend’s house, of course? Or space cakes that can be chewed by the dog… Cannabis can trigger an event of dog fear that can lead to bites, we already have cases. So, “bad canine trip”, let’s avoid, it can be dangerous for those around you.
5- The grapes (who would expect?) fresh or dry. “Studies have shown no connection to the pesticide, it is the grapes themselves, but we do not yet know which ingredient is toxic. All types of grapes are currently believed to be toxic to dogs. Dry, more concentrated.
Can we draw some principles of caution from this?
If you have a garden, make sure that the dog has no access to mowing products, the dry leaves have lost their repulsion causes.
In general, dogs may have an atypical behavior especially in killing boredom. Inside, if you don’t, leave him toys to avoid fools through laziness.
But Gilbert Gault assures us: “The dog is carnivorous, the plants are not attractive to him. Cases of plant poisoning amount to about 8%. They are more likely to have insecticides, household products, and especially medications for humans (30 to 40% of poisons). »
And the cat?
“One plant dominated the debates: the lilies. The cat, and it is very widespread, is interested in this plant. It tears it apart, eats the leaves, and we don’t know why! The same for Daylilies and Alstroemeria (lily of the Incas). After ingestion, the cat will drink heavily and, 48 hours later, without an anti-poison dose, will die of kidney failure. »
Keep in mind that cases of poisoning concern 10% in cats versus 90% in dogs.
Doctor Gault is regularly consulted on the risks of intoxication of herbivores, he also gives webinars on these topics, especially “Knowing and identifying plants that are poisonous to spring horses to better manage the dangers of pasture.We can better understand why we should never give grass to a horse that we do not know.
If you want to dig deep, he also writes on sites like jardinsdefrance.
By Nathalie Dunand
Photo credit to one: Adobe Stock
Website at Lyon and Nantes Veterinary Poison Control Center : DIRI
National Center for Veterinary Toxicological Information (CNITV)
1 avenue Bourgelat
VetAgro Sup Veterinary Campus
+33 (0) 4 78 87 10 40
Dr. Gilbert GAULT, Veterinary toxinologist
Veterinary clinic LA ROCADE – CHALON
Hours: Monday to Friday: 8 am to 7 pm – Saturday: 9 am to 3 pm