DEAR DIDI: We have a beautiful 10-week-old Rottweiler puppy. She is so good and hasn’t caused any problems, which just amazes us. We have a large landscaped backyard where she plays all day while we are at work. Last week we came home to a lethargic dog. We thought she was just tired but by 9 o’clock at night she was drooling nonstop and just not acting right. After rushing her into an emergency vet and spending over $1000 our little baby managed to survive a poisoning. Please remind people that some of our pretty backyard plants can be deadly for our cherished dogs. – Rottie Mommy in French Camp
DEAR ROTTIE MOMMY: I am so happy for you that your little baby survived! You have an excellent suggestion that will hopefully prevent the same scenario for another of my readers. It is natural for dogs to chew and any dog under the age of six months will be apt to chew even more since they are teething. This is all natural canine behavior, so prevention is the key.
To this end, I am not a fan of leaving dogs, especially puppies, in backyards for any amount of time unsupervised. Psychologically, it leads dogs down the wrong path away from being loyal, calm, nonreactive companions. Physically, several things can go wrong. Canines tend to not get a normal amount of sleep when left out in backyards all day which affects their moods. They begin to see the backyard as a playground and this can backfire on their owners during potty training. The puppy plays and ‘forgets’ to do his job because he was busy having fun instead. Additionally, dogs look for things to keep themselves occupied and frequently what they decide is fun is not what we want them to do. Digging, chewing, barking, pacing or repetitive licking of their own paws are all signs of possible anxiety and boredom in a canine.
Tearing up plants seems to be a super fun pastime for dogs but, as Rottie Mommy discovered, the fun can turn deadly in a hurry. Symptoms can vary based on types of poison, amounts ingested and your individual dog. Typically, mild symptoms can be general malaise where your dog just doesn’t ‘seem right.’ You know your dog best so you know when he or she is not acting like their normal selves. Repetitive vomiting, diarrhea, and constant drooling are things to be concerned about. More severe symptoms can include seizures, excessive sedation/sleepiness, tremors, and seizures. Many poisonings only take 36-72 hours to become fatal. These are symptoms that warrant immediate transport to medical care!
Sometimes it is not the whole plant that is poisonous. It can be just the leaves, or just the bark, or both. Here is a list of common plants that could be an issue for your precious canine buddy: All types of Lilies, Aloe Vera plant, Anemone, Daffodil, Philodendrons, Cyclamen, Jade plant, Chrysanthemums, Sago Palms, Foxglove, Oleander, mushrooms in your lawn, Azalea, Hyacinth, Marigolds, Morning Glory, Wisteria, English Ivy, Boxwoods, Crocus, Holly and more. If you have fruit trees in your yard that bear fruit with seed pits, those pits are typically quite poisonous to a dog. If one of your family members smokes outside in the backyard make sure they dispose of the poisonous butts where your dog cannot find them. Have a safe and fun summer with your dogs!
Dierdra McElroy is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is an Animal Behaviorist specializing in canines. If you have questions or concerns about the pets in your house, you can get them answered through a future column of Didi’s Dogs. For a free consultation with Dierdra or to ask your dog behavior question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.