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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

versión On-line ISSN 2224-9435
versión impresa ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.80 no.2 Pretoria  2009




Potential plant poisonings in dogs and cats in southern Africa



C J BothaI; M-L PenrithII, III

IDepartment of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa
IITAD Scientific, 40 Thomson Street, Colbyn, 0083 South Africa
IIIDepartment of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, Onderstepoort, 0110 South Africa




Plant poisoning occurs less commonly in dogs and cats than in herbivorous livestock, but numerous cases have been documented worldwide, most of them caused by common and internationally widely cultivated ornamental garden and house plants. Few cases of poisoning of cats and dogs have been reported in southern Africa, but many of the plants that have caused poisoning in these species elsewhere are widely available in the subregion and are briefly reviewed in terms of toxic principles, toxicity, species affected, clinical signs, and prognosis. The list includes Melia azedarach (syringa), Brunfelsia spp. (yesterday, today and tomorrow), Datura stramonium (jimsonweed, stinkblaar), a wide variety of lilies and lily-like plants, cycads, plants that contain soluble oxalates, plants containing cardiac glycosides and other cardiotoxins and euphorbias (Euphorbia pulcherrima, E. tirucalli). Poisoning by plant products such as macadamia nuts, onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, cannabis (marijuana, dagga) or hashish and castor oil seed or seedcake is also discussed. Many of the poisonings are not usually fatal, but others frequently result in death unless rapid action is taken by the owner and the veterinarian, underlining the importance of awareness of the poisonous potential of a number of familiar plants.

Keywords: cats, dogs, intoxications, poisoning, poisonous plants



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Received: January 2009
Accepted: April 2009



* Author for correspondence: E-mail:

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