The Arenal area is fortunate to have a number of people involved in pet rescue and one of them keeps asking, “why not a column on plants that are bad for pets”?
Why not, indeed. So here it is Doris, and dedicated to you, Gloria, and Judy.*
There are some plants we grew in the States that you may be familiar with. Poinsettia, oleander, and dumb cane (dieffenbachia) are three good examples, but here is one you may not know about, the euphorbia tirucalli, commonly called the pencil plant or pencil tree. Although it is an interesting succulent that can get quite large in our climate, the sticky white sap of this plant is a skin and eye irritant that can cause temporary blindness. Just bumping into the plant can cause the pencil-like leaves to break and contact the skin or eyes. If a pet chews a leaf, blisters and pain follow while an allergic reaction can cause death. I have it on my what-not-to-plant list.
Cashew nut trees, although easy to grow and with fragrant flowers, can pose a hazard to pets, particularly puppies who like to put everything in their mouths. The shell on the nut produces a caustic fluid that will cause burns (I have the marks on my arm to prove it). Keep pets and small children away from the cashew tree! Interestingly, toucans can eat the nuts with no problems.
Fruit of the bactris gasipaes, also called the beach palm and known in Costa Rica as the pejibaye, is highly toxic for dogs and can cause severe pancreatitis. Again, inquisitive puppies need to be kept safe from this palm.
Ever make guacamole? Fine for us, but avocados are toxic to both dogs and parrots, so be careful what you offer your pet and keep the skins and seeds away from animals.
Macadamia nuts are a tasty treat, but also toxic to dogs, although parrots seem to love them.
*Doris can be reached through “Homeless and Helpless” on Facebook. H&H rescues, neuters, and places homeless pets.
Gloria can be reached at email@example.com. She does rescue and runs low-cost spay and neuter clinics in the Arenal area. Her books are: “How to Keep your pet Safe, Healthy and Happy in Costa Rica” and “How to Recognize Venomous Snakes of Costa Rica.”
Judy runs G-Paws, a non-profit agency that provides low cost spay/neuter clinics in the Tilarán area.