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Let's keep our pets safe while we prepare our gardens and yards this spring.

Toxic Plants

Kitten in Garden with FlowersOutdoor plants such as Sago palm, Rhododendron, and Azalea are poisonous to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other plants from the Cycad family, including mushrooms, can lead to liver failure. Rhododendron and Azalea affect the heart. Other toxic plants include Lily of the Valley, Oleander, Rosebay, Foxglove, and Kalancoe. Please feel free to call if you have any questions regarding a specific plant.


The most dangerous forms of insecticides include snail bait (metaldehyde); fly bait (methomyl), mole and gopher bait (zinc phosphide), systemic insecticides with disyston or disulfoton as ingredients, and ALL rat poisons. Store all insecticides in an inaccessible area.


Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can lead to GI (gastro intestinal tract) upset for life threatening obstruction. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully before you let your pet free to roam.

Cocoa Mulch (cocoa bean shells)

Cocoa mulch is a byproduct of chocolate production and is popular for its sweet odor. The sweet smell is attractive to dogs and can lead to similar toxicities as chocolate. Clinical signs of ingestion can range from vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, hyperactivity and seizures. Less toxic alternatives include shredded pine or cedar block.

Allergy-Causing Flora

It's that time again for seasonal allergies. Pets can react to pollen, dust, and even bee stings just like people. Sneezing, itching, and runny eyes are common signs. Severe reactions can lead to anaphylactic shock. Please do not treat your pet with allergy medication unless prescribed by a veterinarian.

Dr. Alia Habhab ("Dr. Alia") has been working at Animal House of Chicago since July 2013. A recent graduate of Ross University Veterinary School, she finished her clinical year at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2013. Dr. Alia has a special interest in exotic animal medicine.