Find out about Pet Poisonous Plants

Certain house plants are harmful to pets when ingested or swallowed.

Keep these plants out of reach of your dog. If your dog ingests any of these, consult your vet immediately.
A few examples of house plants most commonly found in any household.

  • Aloe Vera is used to heal cuts, burns and skin problems but the aloe Health

emodin chemical in the leaves is dangerous to your dog.

  • Amaryllis with its huge beautiful flowers is seen in many homes during the months of Sept to Jan. These flowers contain toxins that cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea if ingested by dogs.
  • Philodendron or Money Plant is used to purify the air indoors but the leaves contain calcium oxalates which cause burning and itching in the throat and vomiting.
  • Morning Glory or Ipomoea with its blue and purple flowers is grown indoors and outdoors but causes drowsiness, headaches, numbness, muscle tightening, nausea and vomiting.
  • Angel Wings with its huge green and white leaves make a beautiful picture as an indoor plant. It is also known as
    Elephant Leaves or Heart of Jesus. The leaf, if swallowed, causes irritation in the mouth and throat.
  • Snake Plant with its stiff long green and yellow leaves causes vomiting and diarrhoea if swallowed.
  • Chrysanthemum contains arteglasin which causes dermatitis. It causes redness, itching, swelling and blisters.
  • English Ivy, a creeper contains didehydrofalcarinol, falcarinol and hederasaponins which results in paralysis, coma, vomiting, convulsions and difficulty in breathing.
  • The Crown of Thorns causes stomach pain, irritation of the mouth and throat and vomiting.

Signs to lookout for if your dog has eaten a poisonous plant.

  • Is your dog vomiting and is there any blood?
  • Check for dehydration – like loose skin, etc.
  • Does your dog have bloody stools or maybe a few drops of blood in the faeces?
  • Is your dog feeling hot and drinking water obsessively?

Safety measures

  • Keep your pet away from such plants.
  • If your dog has digested any poison leaves, call up the vet.
  • Call the vet if you know what the pet has ingested and take him along for immediate analysis.

Find out about Kidney emergencies

Now a days it is common to see dogs brought into pet clinic complaining that dog is drinking too much water and urinating excessively and also vomiting food. The pet parents complain that these dogs want to be let outside more frequently during the day and may urinate on household furniture as well. These may be the first observable signs of acute renal failure (ARF) that appear suddenly, but there are many other signs that appear preceding this which most often go unnoticed even by the most attentive pet parents. Here’s more info on ARF.

Case file…

Dr Suranjan Sarkar

Dr Suranjan Sarkar

Recently, I had a patient – a Cocker Spaniel – with complaints of drinking water frequently, eating very less food and vomiting afterwards. I enquired about his history and was told by the pet parent that the dog has been sick for about one month, but the problem of vomiting started about six months back. As I further queried, I came to know that it all started six months back when the dog received treatment from a very popular local quack in Ranchi for skin disease, probably scabies. The skin condition got better but the dog started vomiting everything he was fed. On examination, I found that the dog was not urinating properly and in less quantity. The dog felt pain whenever the belly area was palpated. I suggested haematological and biochemical test. Test results showed serum creatinine 4.7 and blood urea 102.00. This was way high. After two months of treatment along with renal diet, the dog is nearly normal with serum creatinine 1.3.

Dogs at risk

While dogs of any age are prone to kidney disease, it is most often seen in elderly dogs. Large breed, free-roaming dogs seem to be predisposed to this condition, probably due to their increased access to poisonous plants, chemicals, snakes, insects, micro-organisms and other nephrotoxins (things that damage the kidneys). Systemic illness, dehydration, low blood pressure (hypotension), advancing age and administration of certain drugs can also put dogs at an increased risk of developing ARF. In Indian condition, it is very often seen during summer months when dogs suffering from dehydration show signs of ARF. There are breed predisposition also. Certain breeds who are more prone to kidney disease are Samoyed, Bull Terrier, Cairn Terrier and German Shepherd.

Signs and symptoms

In ARF, there is decline in kidney function. Kidney is a very important organ of body and among others; it is responsible to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, blood volume, water composition of the blood, pH level and produces red blood cells and certain hormones. The symptoms mainly depend upon degree of losses in kidney function and upon body’s way to compensate those losses, so one or more symptoms listed below may be noticed in dogs with ARF.

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Dullness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Lack of appetite
  • Blood in urine
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Oral ulcers
  • Dull and dry coat
  • Paleness of mucous membrane
  • Acute blindness due to high blood pressure
  • Seizures and comas
  • Increase in frequency and amount of urination
  • Bad breath from buildup of blood urea nitrogen in blood
  • Brownish discoloration of tongue surface

Causes of ARF

There are many causes of renal failure in dogs, some of which are listed below.

Anitimicrobials, NSAIDS: Indiscriminate use of antibiotics are damaging to kidneys. Aminoglycoseds are most nephrotoxic, so prolonged use of these drugs should be avoided. Similarly renal disease in dogs has been associated with administration of NSAIDS such as Aspirin, Carprofen, Flunixin Meglumine, Naproxen, Phenylbutazone and Ibuprofen.

It is very often seen that when dogs fall sick due to some reason, pet parents tend to give them over the counter drugs or contact quacks instead of contacting qualified vets. These practices encourage indiscriminate use of antibiotics and NSAIDS without knowing the side effects of those drugs.

Vitamin D: Dogs and cats who consume vitamin D3 contained in rodenticide formulation accidentally may develop ARF. In addition, toxicosis can also occur from feeding formulation containing excessive Vitamin D.

Foods: Certain plants such as lilies, grapes and resins are nephrotoxic and can cause ARF.

Other diseases: Infectious disease like Leptospirosis is a cause of ARF, so dogs should be vaccinated against endemic strains of leptospira. Other diseases such as Lyme disease and Pyelonephritis also cause ARF in dogs.

Word of caution: If leptospirosis may be the cause of ARF, the pet parent should handle urine extremely careful, because the causative micro-organism is zoonotic – which means that it can infect humans as well as dogs.

Diagnosing ARF

The signs and symptoms listed above may also be found in many other disease conditions, so blood and urine are sent to pathological labs for testing. The test results in dogs with ARF may reveal elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine and phosphorus levels, abnormally low urine specific gravity and maybe evidence of a urinary tract infection or obstruction. High levels of circulating BUN, creatinine and phosphorus are caused by the kidney’s inability to properly filter toxic waste products from the blood and flush them out in urine. Low urine-specific gravity means that the kidneys aren’t able to reabsorb water and concentrate urine normally, which makes it overly dilute, contributing to the dog’s dehydration, despite a high water intake.

Treating ARF

Treatment of kidney failure in dogs occurs in two phases. The first phase is to restart the normal functioning of kidneys. Large quantities of intravenous fluids are given to flush out the kidneys. This flushing process, called diuresis, helps to stimulate the kidney cells to function again. If enough functional kidney cells remain, they may be able to adequately meet the body’s needs for waste removal. Fluid therapy includes replacement of various electrolytes, especially potassium. Drugs are given to control vomiting and diarrhoea and also for gastric ulcers. Underlying cause should be treated; for example, antibiotic therapy in cases caused by bacterial infection.

The second phase of treatment aims to keep the kidney functioning as long as possible. This is achieved by feeding dogs a diet low in phosphorous and protein and not acidified. There are various commercially available renal diets for dogs which will help prolong the life of kidney by putting less stress to kidney some of these are Hills k/d, Royal Canin renal LP and Purina NF.

(Dr Suranjan Sarkar,  runs Complete Dog Care at Ranchi, which is truly a complete pet corner where available medical facilities, grooming, pet food, accessories and others,).


Q. I have a nine-year-old dog who is facing the problem of kidney failure. What should I do? Is kidney transplant possible?
– Sudhir, Gurgaon

“Kidney failure is a tough thing to handle, both for pet parents and the pets. I’m glad you are willing to go to such great lengths to try and save your dog. However, a kidney transplant is not a viable option. For example, you can’t transplant just any other dog’s kidney into yours. It has to be matched at the antigenic level. Finding such a dog will mean having to test quite a few. This is very expensive and I don’t think anyone is doing this in India.

The next is the surgery itself. But he will have to be put on immunosuppressive drugs for the remainder of his life to prevent transplant rejection. Which means, even a small stomach bug could kill him. Considering all of these things, I repeat, kidney transplants are not a viable option in dogs.”
– Dr Kadambari Venkatraman, Olive’s Pet Clinic, Hyderabad

“The best alternative option is haemodialysis, which is available at selected places Madras Veterinary College or Bombay Veterinary College. Once he is stabilised, he can be placed on the renal diet and required medications that may help to prolong his life up to three years (depending on degree of kidney function left).”
– Dr K G Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)), Regional Associate for South Asia, WALTHAM

“Kidney transplantation is a final option but in Indian standard it is not possible at all. You can go for alternative option of dialysis.”
– Dr Shivaji H Talekar, New Hope Hospital, Mumbai

“Unfortunately there are a few institutions doing it with very low success rate (about 30 percent).
– Dr RM Bhardwaj, member (co-opted), Animal Welfare Board of India