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Common poisonous plants

Plant poisoning of animals is a fairly common occurrence and we thought that perhaps a regular newsletter article identifying several different potentially toxic plants would be an interesting and useful read!

RHODODENDRON

Evergreen garden shrub with flowers or varying colours.  Contains toxic compound andromedotoxin.  Most common scenario is animals eating prunings thrown into paddocks near the garden.  Goats and sheep are most at risk.  Clinical signs include increased salivation, abdominal pain, decreased breathing, weakness, staggering, convulsions and potentially death from respiratory failure. 

FOXGLOVE

Biennial herb with erect stem up to one metre tall or more, with purple or white flowers.  Contains toxic compound digitalis purpurea which has profound effects on the heart.  All parts of the plant are toxic but leaves are the most toxic at start of flowering.  Not commonly eaten by animals unless very hungry in the absence of other feed.  Cattle and horses are most at risk.  Clinical signs include gastrointestinal irritation and diarrhoea, anorexia, nausea, slow but strong pulse, contracted pupils.

RAGWORT

Annual herb with erect stems up to one metre tall, light green leaves with yellow flowers of about 2cm diameter and likes higher rainfall areas.  Contains toxic alkaloid compounds that cause liver damage.  All parts of the plant are poisonous in both the fresh and dried state with toxicity peaking at flowering.  Horses, cattle and sheep are most at risk.  Poisoning can be sudden or over a longer period of weeks.  Clinical signs include depression, diarrhoea, unsteadiness, irritability, dark coloured urine, yellow mucous membranes.

If you suspect that your animal(s) has potentially eaten a toxic plant, remove the animal from the dangerous paddock (or, if easier, remove offending plant(s)!) quickly and quietly and then call the vet immediately