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Fur and Foliage Together: Tips for Pet Safe Plants and Flowers 

Sarah Rae Murray is a writer, former veterinary practice receptionist and an advocate for all animals. 

In the summertime, it’s natural to want to bring the outdoors inside with a bouquet of wild or garden-grown flowers. But what happens when your four-legged family members start to admire your arrangement? It may seem harmless, but many plants and flowers are toxic to animals and can cause symptoms ranging in severity from mild nausea to acute organ failure resulting in death. The simple act of sniffing or nibbling the wrong flora can send your pet to the veterinary ER.

On the bright side, there are plenty of options to beautify your home while keeping it a safe space for your canine and feline residents. Here are a few handy tips for lovers of both plants and animals:

Be plant-danger aware: 

You have the ability to prevent a medical catastrophe with a quick online search. The next time you’re perusing the blooms and greenery at a florist or a garden centre, bring up the ASPCA’s Poisonous Plants database on your smartphone. You can utilize their custom Google search to ensure that the plants in your basket won’t pose a threat to the furry ones at home. There are endless resources for finding pet safe houseplants and flowers – you just have to take the time to look. You may even find a new favourite.

Be extra careful around special occasions: 

Flowers and houseplants are go-to gifts for special occasions. Even pet owners may not realize that the flowers they’re sending could be dangerous to the recipient’s pets. If you do receive flowers, look them up to determine whether they’re safe to keep. Common bouquet flowers such as roses, gerbera daisies, sunflowers, and snapdragons are non-toxic whereas carnations, tulips, calla lilies, and irises are all toxic to both cats and dogs. Don’t forget to research the greenery used to finish most arrangements. Foliage like myrtle, eucalyptus, certain poisonous varieties of ivy and lemon leaf can also be harmful.

Double-check your holiday favourites: 

You may need to rethink holiday mainstays: poinsettias and amaryllis are toxic to both cats and dogs; Easter lilies can be fatal for cats. Ditching the traditional seasonal plants may feel like a compromise at first, but you just may find something new that sets your holiday décor apart. Christmas or Easter cacti are a great non-toxic holiday alternative. In fact, there are many pet safe cacti and succulent varieties you can use to create a festive and modern terrarium arrangement. Check out echeveria ‘Christmas’ for some inspiration, a hybrid of non-toxic succulents that combine green leaves with stunning red tips.

Go faux:

There’s a renaissance happening in the world of plant and floral arrangements. High-end silk plants are coming back in vogue as realistic, low maintenance, affordable alternatives to their living counterparts. Almost anything you can imagine, from succulents to trees, can be found as a silk plant variety that can bring colour and life into your home. Best of all, artificial plants are far less likely to pique your pet’s interest because they don’t give off the enticing aroma of live vegetation. Another bonus? Silk plants are for everyone, no green thumb required.

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