Health & Environment

Springtime Bliss: Keeping Your Pets Safe From Poisonous Plants

With Easter approaching, a Texas A&M veterinarian reminds us that lilies, as well as other springtime plants, are toxic to pets.
By Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences March 14, 2024

Easter lilies
As spring approaches, pet owners should be aware of potential dangers lurking in their homes and surroundings.

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Spring brings a burst of color and new life to our surroundings, but the very things that make spring so vibrant can pose serious threats to our beloved pets.

Dr. Murl Bailey, a senior professor at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, provides valuable insights into common poisonous plants pet owners should be mindful of, whether indoors or outdoors, during the spring season.

Easter Lilies

Popular in springtime floral arrangements, Easter lilies — and lilies in general — contain toxins that cause severe kidney damage in cats, making them extremely toxic for our feline friends. Even small ingestions, such as chewing on a petal or drinking water from a vase containing lilies, can lead to acute kidney injury in cats.

While the exact toxin that causes this issue is unknown, owners can still recognize signs of lily poisoning, which include loss of appetite, hiding behavior, and lethargy.

“If owners notice a change in their cats, especially if they have lilies around the house, they should immediately take their cat to their veterinarian,” Bailey said. “The veterinarian will start the cat on extensive intravenous fluid therapy to protect the kidneys, but the therapy should be given within 48 hours to be most effective.”

Dogs also can be affected by lily poisoning, but Bailey says they are less likely to ingest lilies than cats.


Cycad plants — more commonly referred to as palms or ferns — are a type of seed plant commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions, both indoors and outdoors, and their roots contain a liver toxin.

“The first sign that an owner may see is blood in their pet’s stool or vomit,” Bailey said. “The pet may soon develop severe bleeding, because normal clotting factors are made in the liver and when the liver quits making the clotting factors, the blood won’t clot.”

Cats and dogs, alike, can experience cycad poisoning, but dogs are often more attracted to the plant due to their natural inclination to explore their environment through sniffing and chewing.

Nevertheless, to prevent pets from accidentally ingesting cycads, owners should learn to identify the plants and supervise their pets closely if cycads are near.


Spring also is a time when various mushrooms sprout in yards, parks and other outdoor areas. While many mushrooms are harmless, some species can be toxic to cats and dogs.

“There are many mushrooms that cause different clinical signs, ranging first from vomiting and diarrhea and then to organ failure and even death,” Bailey said. “There is no good specific treatment for mushroom intoxication, so the veterinarian will treat the patient for the clinical signs present.”

It is important for pet owners to be vigilant and remove any mushrooms growing in areas accessible to their pets, especially when dogs are present, as they are more likely to ingest large amounts of mushrooms while exploring outdoors.

Blue-Green Algae

During warmer months, blue-green algae blooms and accumulates in non-moving bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, and rivers, producing toxins that are lethal to cats and dogs.

“The water may be clear, but because the toxins can still be present, it is best if pet owners don’t let their pets swim in the water, especially in areas where the water is not moving, as this where blue-green algae can start growing,” Bailey explained. “The first clinical signs, such as convulsions and collapse, develop as soon as the animals leave the water and pets can rapidly deteriorate before the owner can get them to the veterinarian.”

If a pet has been exposed to blue-green algae or shows any signs of poisoning after being near bodies of water, owners should seek veterinary care immediately.

As spring approaches, pet owners should be aware of potential dangers lurking in their homes and surroundings. By being proactive and educating themselves on common poisonous plants, owners can help ensure their furry friends stay safe and healthy during the season.

Media contact: Jennifer Gauntt,

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