Ask the Vet - Vallard C. Forsythe, DVM

Keep pets from toxic plants

Dear Dr. Forsythe:  Please warn your readers to be very careful about exposing their pets to toxic plants during this busy time of the year.  After my daughter got back from her prom this weekend, she placed her beautiful orchid on the chair next to her bed.  Our little Chihuahua chewed on it and ate a few of the petals, and within a couple of hours started throwing up and had a seizure.  She is still in the hospital, several days later, with a severe problem in her liver due to the toxic plant she ate. The vet wasn’t sure if the orchid or the small berries used as an ornament on the corsage were the more toxic part of the incident, but I only know that I feel so badly that a wonderful weekend for my daughter turned into such a nightmare for our little family pet.  Hopefully this will serve as a warning to other people and may spare other families the heartache we are going through. - Prom Mom

Dear Prom Mom: Thanks so much for your note.  Plants, and also berries and garnish can be very toxic to dogs and cats.  Dogs and cats do not have the sufficient enzymes in their liver to break down such toxins and metabolize them, so the result is liver trauma that can cause liver failure.  If enough of the poison is consumed, the situation can even be fatal.

The good news is that with aggressive medical care (hospitalization, fluids) the liver can often “repair itself” and recover from such damaging insults.  Hopefully, your little dog will recover and be home soon.  Thanks for reporting this so that other families will be careful and not leave such plants around for the house pets to get into.


Dr. Vallard C. Forsythe

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