Ask the Vet: Spring Bulbs Toxic to Dogs
Q: Last fall, I planted hundreds of daffodil, hyacinth and tulip bulbs. A month ago, we adopted a puppy, Paisley, who is fascinated by all the spring flowers popping up now. Do I need to watch her to be sure she doesn't eat them, or is it safe for her to nibble on them?
A: Many spring flowers are poisonous, so Paisley should not partake.
Even more toxic than the flowers and leaves of spring-blooming plants are the bulbs, corms and rhizomes under the soil surface. In addition, if ingested whole, a bulb can block the gastrointestinal tract, requiring surgical removal.
Contact dermatitis occurs with daffodils, hyacinths and tulips whose sap contains contact allergens. In addition, daffodil and hyacinth sap holds needlelike crystals that cause contact dermatitis through mechanical irritation.
Vomiting, drooling and diarrhea occur after ingestion of all three of your flower types as well as spring crocuses, gladiolas, grape hyacinths, irises and snow drops. More severe gastrointestinal problems occur after ingestion of the bulbs, corms or rhizomes.
Heart trouble, including abnormal heart rhythm, develops if a dog consumes large quantities of daffodils, hyacinths or tulips.
Tremors, seizures and other types of neurotoxicity occur after ingestion of daffodils in large amounts. Daffodils have even caused cattle and human deaths.
Don't plant lily of the valley in their place, as ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, collapse, coma and death in dogs. Every part of the plant is toxic, though the rhizome is most poisonous.
Puppies explore the world by putting things in their mouths, so you'll have to protect Paisley from your spring flowers. Walk her on a leash until she's an adult and you're sure she won't eat your plants. If she does and gets sick, rush her to her veterinarian.
If you decide to replace your daffodils, hyacinths and tulips with other spring-blooming plants, consult the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center guide to toxic and nontoxic plants at https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.
Q: We recently adopted Loki, a cat we were told was a neutered male. However, he acts like a tomcat, spraying urine, trying to mount our spayed female cat and sneaking outside at night. How can we confirm that he is, indeed, neutered?
A: Ask your veterinarian to palpate Loki's scrotum. If it's empty and he's still behaving like an unneutered male, one or both of his testicles may not have descended into his scrotum but instead remain hidden inside his abdomen or inguinal area, a condition called cryptorchidism. "Crypt-" is Greek for hidden and "-orchid" refers to testicles.
Cryptorchid testicles can't produce sperm, but they do make testosterone. In cats, testosterone induces such behaviors as urinary marking and the urge to breed, and it gives rise to certain physical characteristics, such as odoriferous urine, big jowls and thick skin that resists puncture wounds during cat fights.
Testosterone also stimulates the development of spines on the cat's penis that, during breeding, induce the female cat to ovulate. The spines disappear after the testicles are removed during neuter surgery.
So, ask your veterinarian to examine Loki's penis for spines, too. If they are present, he is producing testosterone, and the most likely source is one or two cryptorchid testicles. Surgery to remove the retained testicle(s) should stop his objectionable behaviors.
Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at https://askthevet.pet.Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate Inc.