Potential hazards exist in our everyday life in countless measure. The same is true for our pets. The hunt for potential environmental hazards is fractal, and if you obsess over pet-proofing every aspect of your dog’s environment it will make you insane.
Having said that, there are some pretty simple changes that you can make to drastically improve your dog’s safety. Yesterday I received an interesting article about cocoa mulch, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about pet-proofing your landscaping.
This is the article about cocoa mulch: http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoamulch.asp
While products like cocoa mulch, pesticides, or fertilizers might seem like an obvious danger, there are many seemingly innocuous plants that are commonly used by landscapers in Austin that can be deadly. The most commonly used and also one of the most toxic plants is the Cycas revoluta, more commonly known as the Sago Palm.
The seeds are the most toxic, but every part of the plant contains cycasin and other toxins which shut down the liver and can cause permanent neurological damage. Most animals that ingest the plant do not survive, and of those that do, many suffer permanent damage to their liver and/or other organs. More information about the Sago can be found here.
Sago palm is the most common plant-based toxicity seen in veterinary clinics in the Austin area, but there are many other toxic plants that are commonly found in yards and gardens, many of which were planted by landscapers before the homeowners moved in. The Humane Society publishes and updates a fairly comprehensive list here. Familiarize yourself with the flora on and around your property and make sure that your pets do not have access to anything toxic. If they do chew on something or you suspect they might have, seek immediate veterinary care. Symptoms of toxic ingestion include: excessive salivation (especially if the saliva has an unusual color), vomiting, depression, anorexia, and any neurological symptoms such as stumbling, muscle rigidity, paralysis, or seizures.
Knowing what’s in your own yard can be the difference between life or death for your pet!