From plants to fertilizers, many seemingly innocuous yard products and supplies can quickly turn a fun spring day into a catastrophe. Know which chemicals, plants, and products can be potential poisons for your pet.

#1: Rodenticides

Rodent baits are formulated to entice mice and rats to eat them. Unfortunately, this makes them appealing to other animals as well. Rodenticides contain a variety of lethal ingredients, but they are all designed to do the same thing: kill. There are four different types of rodenticides on the market:

  • Long-acting anticoagulants — The most widely-used rodenticides, anticoagulants prevent blood from clotting. Clinical signs vary, depending on where in the body bleeding occurs. Bruising, nose bleeds, blood in the urine or feces, and weakness are common symptoms.
  • Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) — The most dangerous type of rodenticide, cholecalciferol increases blood calcium levels high enough to cause kidney failure. There is no antidote for vitamin D3 toxicity, and treatment options are limited, so don’t purchase these baits if you have pets.
  • Bromethalin — Also dangerous, bromethalin causes swelling of the brain, which leads to incoordination, muscle tremors, and seizures.
  • Phosphides — Phosphides are included in mole and gopher baits that are typically pushed down into the ground. Once ingested, the active ingredient lets off toxic gas that causes bloating, abdominal pain, vomiting, and potential lung and heart complications. Be aware that the gases released when a poisoned animal vomits can also cause human toxicity.

#2: Slug and snail baits

Chemicals used to kill slugs and snails come in pellet, granule, powder, and liquid form. If you sprinkle these products around your prize roses, your pet may ingest some and become ill. Slug baits contain the toxic ingredient metaldehyde, which is poisonous to all animal species. Watch for signs of neurologic toxicity:

  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Hyperthermia

Metaldehyde toxicity can be treated, and pets typically make a full recovery if treatment is started quickly.

#3: Fertilizers

Fertilizers used on lawns, around flower beds, and in gardens can also contain a variety of potentially dangerous ingredients:

  • Bone meal — Made up of animal bones that have been defatted and then frozen and ground to a fine powder, bone meal can be tempting to your pet. If he eats the powder, it can clump together in the stomach or intestinal tract and cause a blockage.
  • Blood meal — Also made of animal products, blood meal is a dried, powdered form of blood. If ingested, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  • Iron — Ingestion of large amounts of iron can cause iron toxicity. Pets may experience vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and possible heart and liver problems.
  • Organophosphates —Organophosphates are particularly toxic—as little as one teaspoon can be deadly to a 50-pound dog. These toxins cause a specific set of clinical signs:
    • Drooling
    • Increased tear production
    • Urination
    • Defecation
    • Trouble breathing
    • Vomiting

#4: Cocoa bean mulch

Some mulch products are made from the leftover shell casings and hulls of cocoa beans after the production of chocolate. When newly-laid cocoa bean mulch is warmed by the sun, the aroma of chocolate may entice your pet to ingest it. Although much of the toxic compounds—theobromine and caffeine—are removed during processing, small amounts still remain and can cause toxicity.

#5: Garden plants

Many common garden plants can cause problems if the plant, or even fruit from the plant, is ingested. Most cause gastrointestinal irritation, but some can cause more severe toxicity. Keep pets away from these plants:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Hot peppers
  • Rhubarb
  • Rosemary
  • Avocado
  • Grapes

If your garden includes any of these plants, put a fence around the perimeter to keep pets out.

#6: Compost

Compost piles are full of rotting and moldy food. While composting is a great way to recycle food waste, ensure that your pet cannot eat the decomposing food and toxins that build up. Tremorgenic mycotoxins can cause drooling, vomiting, muscle tremors, seizures, and hyperthermia. Place a fence around your compost pile, or use a compost bin that your pet cannot access.

#7: Mushrooms

There are hundreds of mushroom species. Although most are nontoxic, it can be difficult to tell mushroom species apart, so all cases of ingestion should be treated as a possible toxicity. Your pet may experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Incoordination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures

Liver and kidney damage can develop days after initial signs present. If you see your pet eat a mushroom, collect one from your yard and take him to an emergency veterinarian immediately. To prevent toxicity, check your yard frequently for mushroom growth, and remove any you find.

#8: Pesticides

Bug sprays, ant baits, spider traps, fly paper, and other pesticides can cause problems if your pet gets into them. Although most will only cause irritation, some can contain poisonous organophosphates. Keep all pesticides safely stored on high shelves your pet cannot reach.

Think your pet may have gotten into a potential toxin? Contact us immediately.