Some pets would never consider chomping on a plant. Others consider it their duty to give almost anything a personal taste test. While this is amusing in some circumstances, those inviting plants could be poisonous. If you’re moving to Singapore with your pet, it’s essential to learn about toxic plants you may encounter, so you can keep your pet away from them.
Poisonous plants are not all deadly. The ones that aren’t fatal can still cause mild to severe diarrhea, vomiting, pain, swelling, and damage to internal organs. You would never wish any of those troubles on your beloved cat or dog, so let’s take a closer look at potentially problematic plants.
Plants you already know
Many of the houseplants we love are actually native to other parts of the world. So you may find some of them growing wild in Singapore. Common “houseplants” that are potentially dangerous to dogs and cats (and people, by the way) include:
- Aloe vera
You’re quite likely to find these two “houseplants” in Singapore:
- Dieffenbachia (also called giant dumb cane) - The leaves and sap of this plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, which causes swelling of the mouth, throat and/or eyes on contact. In people, this can cause loss of speech; in pets it can cause choking.
- Oleander - Many people don’t realize that all parts of this very pretty shrub are poisonous, because it is commonly used as a landscape plant in parts of the US.
And there are two Singapore native plants you definitely want to keep away from your pets:
- Allamanda – All parts of this plant are poisonous, not only the milky white sap.
- Pong Pong – This Singapore native is a tree commonly seen along the roadside. It has white flowers, simple leaves, and it bears single fruits. The fruit starts to gradually turn from green to pink, then black as it ripens. The seeds are highly toxic to all animals as well as people.
Learn to identify poisonous plants
The SPCA of Singapore notes that any cat or dog that goes outdoors is at risk of contacting some type of poisonous plant. If your new home in Singapore will have a yard and your pet will not always be under your direct supervision, you need to know what’s in that yard.
On the American SPCA website, you can find worldwide lists of plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs. The lists are separate, because cats and dogs have different body chemistries and may respond differently to whatever they ingest. It’s a good idea to review these lists before you move to Singapore, and bookmark the URLs for quick consultation later on, as you “meet” unknown plants in your new home.
Reminder: foods can be poisonous to pets, too
No matter where you live, there are “people” foods and ingredients we love to eat that are, in fact, quite poisonous for your pets. Singapore may be located in Asia, but it is a very cosmopolitan international country. You’ll find foods from all over the globe, so you’ll need to be wary of ingredients that could pose problems for your pooch or kitty.
- Xylitol, an artificial sweetener
- Caffeine and alcohol (beer is doubly bad because it contains alcohol and also hops, which are toxic to dogs)
- Macadamia nuts (peanuts and almonds are just fine for pets, and they’re quite nutritious – what dog doesn’t love a bit of peanut butter now and then!)
- Anything related to cacao – processed chocolate, cocoa powder, and health supplements that contain cacao
- Anything in the onion family – garlic, chives, onions, leeks, and Chinese versions
- Anything related to grapes – fresh grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants
Stick to brands of pet food you recognize and trust. There have been many negative reports over the years about Chinese pet products that are contaminated or made of poor quality or questionable ingredients. Besides, eating food that’s familiar will help your pet (and her digestive system) acclimate to your new Singapore environment more easily. You should have little trouble finding your pet’s favorite brand in Singapore. If not, ask your vet for a safe, healthy recommendation.
While dogs are generally more likely to explore plants by licking or chewing, cats aren’t immune to this temptation. So learn to identify potentially toxic plants in Singapore, and (as you always do), keep an eye on your pet to note any changes in behavior that might indicate a problem. If you do, get immediate help.