It’s not easy being a pet parent, especially when your family is on the move. Relocating to a foreign country always requires some adjustment. Everything from the scenery to the food to cultural norms and living conditions will be at least a little, if not very different indeed. At least you can put all those changes into context. Imagine, though, how your pet must feel!
If you’re moving to the Philippines from someplace such as the United States, you’ll find plenty of intriguing and enjoyable differences as you get to know your new home. But, as with all countries, there are also some things to be wary of. For example, the Philippines is home to a number of plants that are toxic to people, to animals, or to both.
So while there are certain steps you can take to help acclimate your dog or cat to her new surroundings, one of the most important – but easiest to overlook – is learning about poisonous plants that may be lurking in plain sight. Or as Pinoy Top Tens so bluntly puts it: “you could be in for an unpleasant surprise to know that behind those beautiful ornamental plants in your garden lies a killer – something that could be the cause of you or your loved one’s demise.”
They have identified these as their Top 10 Poisonous Plants in the Philippines:
- Buta-buta, also called the Blinding Tree. It most commonly grows on the land side of mangroves.
- Talumpunay Tree (also called Cachubong, although you probably know it as Datura – a dangerous hallucinogenic common to many open areas through the Philippines.
- Dieffenbachia, a common houseplant in America which, if chewed by pets, can cause serious dermatitis, respiratory problems, and even kidney damage.
- Rosary Pea, a native vine with bright red seeds that look like rosary beads. Not so heavenly, however, as those seeds contain abrin – a poison that is 75x as deadly as ricin.
- Castor bean, the source of the aforementioned ricin, which is plenty deadly itself.
- Wolfsbane, also known as Aconite, which produces a charming substance called alkaloid pseudaconitine used for centuries in warfare and (cover your pet’s ears!) to kill wolves.
- English Yew. This handsome evergreen with its pretty red berries is one of the world’s most poisonous plants, yet it is often used for hedges in the Philippines as well as the US and elsewhere. Every part of the yew except the berries is deadly toxic.
- Belladonna, yet another well-known problem plant. In this case, the entire plant is poisonous, including the fruit.
- Trompeta, or Angel’s Trumpet – a plant that looks and poisons like Datura (thanks to not one but three toxins – scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine), causing cardiac arrest.
- Pong-pong, a tree that is native throughout Asia and is so deadly it’s also called the Suicide Tree. It lives in marshes and coastal salt swamps.
As noted, many of these plants are used ornamentally in spite of their dangerous capabilities. And speaking of ornamentals, remember that chewing Asiatic lilies can cause kidney failure in cats and chewing bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths can be toxic to dogs.
Call Your Vet Right Away
If you think your dog or kitty has gotten into something toxic, don’t wait to get them medical attention. Symptoms of plant poisoning can vary dramatically, depending on the plant and how much of it your dog or cat has ingested. They might be lethargic or disoriented, they might vomit or have diarrhea, they might have difficulty breathing, or they might develop rashy, itchy skin.
With luck, you may learn that your furry friend is having an allergic reaction instead – no fun, but likely less serious. Symptoms can sometimes be quite similar to poisoning, but you can boost your peace of mind by learning more about signs of allergy in pets.
No matter where you go with your dear pet, we know you always want her to be safe. So we recommend one more peace of mind booster. The American Society for the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA) maintains two web pages that list all the poisonous plants in the world that could harm pets – one list for dogs and one list for cats. Bookmark one or both of these, and you’ll always have a valuable resource at your fingertips.