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Updated: 11/21/2013 08:00:01AM

Life in Florida

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Poinsettias are a symbol of the holiday season -- and a potential poison for family pets.

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The holidays are coming. You are given a poinsettia or amaryllis as a gift. Did you know these plants are poisonous to your cat or dog?

Many times a new plant in your home is considered a play toy by your pet. Many cats and dogs who never bothered your plants before find a new plant exciting. Inside pets love to chow on green plants. I plant cat grass weekly for my cat, Sabrina. When I give her a new pot of cat grass she leaps for joy. Considering Sabrina is 16 years old, she must be excited.

There are over 700 plants that produce toxic substances that can cause your pet to become sick or die.

Here is a small list of some of the toxic plants you may have inside. Aloe vera, amaryllis, primrose, weeping fig, snake plant, dumb cane, chrysanthemum, and rosary pea, narcissus, English ivy, Christmas rose, and mistletoe. In Florida we are able to grow more outdoor plants that are considered indoor in the northern states. Here is a small list of toxic plants you maybe growing in your yard: azaleas, caladiums, day lily, elephant ears, mustards, oaks, oleander, potato plants, rhododendron, jessamine, and bird-of-paradise.

The poisoned animals may show signs of vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal urine, weakness, trouble breathing, or other unusual displays. If you suspect your pet of ingesting a plant, stay calm. If you get excited, so will your pet. Call your veterinarian. Best action is taken within an hour. If you know what they have eaten, take it with you to the vet’s office.

If you are considering giving a plant or flowers as a gift this holiday season, be mindful of the pets in the home. Before giving cat grass as a gift, check with the pet owner.

Some pet owners attempt to keep house plants up high but remember leaves and flowers fall off. My cat, Sabrina in her younger years could leap from a dead stop into the air and land 6 feet off the floor.

Keeping our furry friends safe is like having a toddler in the house.