Monthly Archives: June 2011

Can Pets Predict the Weather, Among Other Things?

Summer means it is storm season. You may not have to check with the weather service to find out if lightning is about to strike, however. The answer could be curled up in your lap or resting at your feet. According to a survey by the Associated Press and, more than two-thirds of dog and cat owners say they’ve received weather warnings from their pets. Even more surprisingly, almost half report they’ve been alerted to bad news by their animals. Do pets really have this mysterious “sixth sense”?

“It’s not that they have a sixth sense but that their senses are much more acute than those of humans,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor of animal behavior at the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

“For example, a dog’s most highly developed sense is its ability to smell,” he explains. “We humans have something like 12 million olfactory receptors in our noses. Dogs can have up to 4 billion. So, it’s hardly surprising that they have an incredible ability to detect trace amounts of odors.”

“So, let’s suppose a storm is miles and miles away and lightning flashes. That may generate ozone molecules that travel in the breeze ahead of the storm. Your dog smells those and becomes agitated and starts to shake.”

“Then, when the storm hits, you think, ‘Oh, my goodness, my dog has a sixth sense!’”

“Storms are also preceded by pressure changes in the air,” says Dr. Ben Hart, a veterinarian at the University of California, Davis who has studied animal behavior for almost 50 years. “It’s possible that dogs and cats can pick up on these changes.”

Hart says animals that have been frightened by thunderstorms in the past will be especially attuned to all the stimuli that accompany them.

Static electricity might also play a role in an animal’s ability to “predict” the weather.

“People have reported getting shocks off their dogs during storms,” says Dodman. “That’s not unusual, considering that dogs are running around on insulated foot pads wearing the equivalent of a big furry angora sweater. They’re perfectly designed to acquire a static charge. So, when they touch their nose to something, they are shocked and will remember that painful experience.”

How do these scientists explain a dog or cat’s reported ability to foretell bad news?

“We tend to remember those things that impress us the most,” says Hart. “So, if our dog appears to warn us and something bad happens afterward, we’ll remember that. But we’ll forget the other hundred or thousand times he acted that way and we didn’t get bad news.”

Dodman calls this “superstitious learning.”

He likens it to a baseball player who discovers a hole in his sock on the day of a big game. He hits a home run and wears a sock with a hole in it for the rest of his career.

“The sock didn’t cause the home run,” Dodman says. “It’s just that humans often make the wrong connection.”

If it’s any consolation, however, he says that dogs and cats make wrong connections, too.

“Your pet may be frightened by the smell of lamb cooking. That’s maybe because he once burned his nose on the stove and he associates that painful experience with the smell, not the hot burner.

“It’s easy for us to misinterpret what’s really going on,” Dodman adds. “Like when you’ve had a bad day at the office and come home and your dog puts his head on your lap. Your response is, ‘My dog knew I had a bad day at work.’ He didn’t. He just knew when you walked in the door that your posture was different and you looked sad. It’s your body language. Dogs can read you like a book.”

“It’s natural to assume more understanding and human sense than there is,” says Hart. “But when you say that to people like my sister, she’ll tell me, ‘No, Ben, you’re wrong. I know my dog really understands what I’m going through or what happened.’”

“You just can’t argue with that.”

How Do Pets Warn of Impending Danger?

•64% hide in a safe place
•56% cry
•52% become hyperactive
•36% bark or meow persistently
Source: survey of pet owners who believe their animals can predict bad things happening.

By Jack Sommars
AAHA Pets Matter


Sighthounds are a special group of hounds that are bred to hunt by sight. The sighthound breeds include: Whippets, Basenjis, Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, Borzois, Ibizan Hounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Salukis and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Lure coursing tests and trials utilize a ‘lure’ (white plastic bag) strung around a course of 600 to 800 yards in an open field. The purpose of a competitive lure coursing trial program is to preserve and develop the coursing skills inherent in the sighthounds and to demonstrate that they can perform the functions for which they were originally bred. Hounds are brought by their owners to the starting line wearing coursing blankets (bright pink, yellow or blue) and slip leads (quick-release collars). The lure is started and, at the huntmaster’s cry of “Tally-Ho!,” the hounds are released and the chase begins. Hounds are normally run in trios as judges assess performance based on each hound’s abilities, identifying hounds by their blanket color. The hounds are scored by 5 different criteria- follow, enthusiasm, agility, speed, and endurance.

For more information on the sport of lure coursing, check out and

Local lure coursing club information including nearby trials can be found at

Beach Tips

Taking your dog to the beach can be a great way to spend a beautiful summer day. However, as a responsible dog owner there are certain precautions you should take:

Provide plenty of fresh water and shade for your dog.

Dogs can get sunburn, especially short-haired dogs and ones with pink skin and white hair. Limit your dog’s exposure when the sun is unusually strong, and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.

Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions – dogs are easy targets for jellyfish and sea lice.

If your dog is out of shape, don’t encourage him to run on the sand. Running on a beach is strenuous exercise, and a dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament.
Cool ocean water is tempting to your dog. Do not allow him to drink too much seawater. The salt in the water will make him sick.

Salt and other minerals found in the ocean can damage your dog’s coat. So, when you are ready to leave for the day, rinse him off with fresh water.

Not all beaches permit dogs. Check local ordinances before you begin your excursion to the beach.

Does Your Doggy Paddle?

The majority of dogs can swim and they love it. But dogs entering the water for the first time should be tested. Here are some important tips for teaching your dog how to swim:

Never throw your dog into the water.

Start in shallow water, and call your dog’s name. You can also try to coax him in with a treat or toy – but always keep your dog within reach.

Another way to introduce your dog to the water is with a dog that already swims and is friendly with your dog. Let your dog follow his friend.

If your dog begins to doggy-paddle with his front legs only, lift his hind legs and help him float. He should quickly catch on and will then keep his back end up.

Swimming is a great form of exercise, but don’t let your dog overdo it. He will be using new muscles and may tire quickly.

Be careful of strong tides that are hazardous for even the best swimmers.

Never leave your dog unattended! You should always be in a position to help him get out of the water.

A Bin Laden Hunter on Four Legs

The identities of all 80 members of the American commando team who thundered into Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden are the subject of intense speculation, but perhaps none more so than the only member with four legs.

Little is known about what may be the nation’s most courageous dog. Even its breed is the subject of great interest, although it was most likely a German shepherd or a Belgian Malinois, military sources say. But its use in the raid reflects the military’s growing dependence on dogs in wars in which improvised explosive devices have caused two-thirds of all casualties. Dogs have proved far better than people or machines at quickly finding bombs.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, said last year that the military needed more dogs. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” he said.

Maj. William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, said the dog on the raid could have checked the compound for explosives and even sniffed door handles to see if they were booby-trapped.

And given that Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a narrow, dark hole beneath a mud shack in Iraq, the Seal team might have brought the dog in case Bin Laden had built a secret room into his compound.

“Dogs are very good at detecting people inside of a building,” Major Roberts said.

Another use may have been to catch anyone escaping the compound in the first moments of the raid. A shepherd or a Malinois runs twice as fast as a human.

Tech Sgt. Kelly A. Mylott, the kennel master at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, called dogs ideal for getting someone who is running away without having to shoot them. “When the dogs go after a suspect, they’re trained to bite and hold them,” Sergeant Mylott said.

Some dogs are big enough that, when they leap on a suspect, the person tends to drop to the ground, Sergeant Mylott said. Others bite arms or legs. “Different dogs do different things,” she said. “But whatever they do, it’s very difficult for that person to go any further.”

Finally, dogs can be used to pacify an unruly group of people — particularly in the Middle East. “There is a cultural aversion to dogs in some of these countries, where few of them are used as pets,” Major Roberts said. “Dogs can be very intimidating in that situation.”

Sergeant Mylott said that dogs got people’s attention in ways that weapons sometimes did not. “Dogs can be an amazing psychological deterrent,” she said.

There are 600 dogs serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that number is expected to grow substantially over the next year, Ensign Brynn Olson of the United States Central Command said. Particularly popular with the troops are the growing number of Labrador retrievers who wander off-leash 100 yards or more in front of patrols to ensure the safety of the route. A Silver Star, one of the Navy’s highest awards, was awarded posthumously in 2009 to a dog named Remco after he charged an insurgent’s hide-out in Afghanistan.

The training of dogs in Navy Seal teams and other Special Operations units is shrouded in secrecy. Maj. Wes Ticer, a spokesman for United States Special Operations Command, said the dogs’ primary functions “are finding explosives and conducting searches and patrols.”

“Dogs are relied upon,” he continued, “to provide early warning for potential hazards, many times, saving the lives of the Special Operations Forces with whom they operate.”

Last year, the Seals bought four waterproof tactical vests for their dogs that featured infrared and night-vision cameras so that handlers — holding a three-inch monitor from as far as 1,000 yards away — could immediately see what the dogs were seeing. The vests, which come in coyote tan and camouflage, let handlers communicate with the dogs with a speaker, and the four together cost more than $86,000. Navy Seal teams have trained to parachute from great heights and deploy out of helicopters with dogs.

The military uses a variety of breeds, but by far the most common are the German shepherd and the Belgian Malinois, which “have the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition,” according to a fact sheet from the military working dog unit.

Suzanne Belger, president of the American Belgian Malinois Club, said she was hoping the dog was one of her breed “and that it did its job and came home safe.” But Laura Gilbert, corresponding secretary for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, said she was sure the dog was her breed “because we’re the best!”

The New York Times
Published: May 4, 2011

The Dogs of War: Beloved Comrades in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — Marines were on a foot patrol last fall in the Taliban stronghold of Marja, Afghanistan, when they shot and killed a lethal threat: a local dog that made the mistake of attacking the Marines’ Labrador retriever.

Capt. Manuel Zepeda, the commander of Company F, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, was unapologetic. If the Lab on the patrol had been hurt, the Marines would have lost their best weapon for detecting roadside bombs — and would have called for a medevac helicopter, just as they would for a human. An attack on the Lab was an attack on a fellow warrior.

As Captain Zepeda put it that day, “We consider the dog another Marine.”

The classified canine that went on the Navy Seals’ raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound last week has generated a wave of interest in military dogs, which have been used by the United States since at least World War I. Now, more valued than ever, they are on their own surge into Afghanistan.

American troops may be starting to come home this summer, but more dogs are going in. In 2007, the Marines began a pilot program in Afghanistan with nine bomb-sniffing dogs, a number that has grown to 350 and is expected to reach nearly 650 by the end of the year. Over all, there are some 2,700 dogs on active duty in the American military. A decade ago, before the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 1,800.

“Most of the public isn’t aware of what these dogs add to national security,” said Gerry Proctor, a spokesman for training programs at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, including the Military Working Dog School. Dogs are used for protection, pursuit, tracking and search and rescue, but the military is also increasingly relying on them to sniff out the homemade bombs that cause the vast majority of American casualties in Afghanistan. So far, no human or human-made technology can do better.

Within the military, the breeds of choice are generally the German shepherd and a Belgian shepherd, or Malinois, but Marines in Afghanistan rely on pure-bred Labrador retrievers because of the dogs’ good noses and nonaggressive, eager-to-please temperaments. Labs now accompany many Marine foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, wandering off-leash 100 yards or more in front as bomb detectors. It is the vital work of an expensively trained canine (the cost to the American military can be as high as $40,000 per dog), but at the end of a sweltering day, sometimes a Lab is still a Lab.

Last spring on a patrol in Helmand’s Garmsir District, a Lab, Tango, was leading a small group of Marines on a dirt road leading into a village when the dog suddenly went down on all fours, wagging his tail — a sign that he had detected explosives nearby. The patrol froze as a Marine explosives team investigated. No bomb was found and the patrol continued, but on the way back the dog, miserable in the 102-degree heat and like most Labrador retrievers a good swimmer, abandoned his duties and leaped into an irrigation canal to cool off. But then he could not climb back up the steep bank. One of the Marines, swearing lustily, finally jumped into the canal and carried the dog out in his arms.

The bonds that grow in battle between the Labs and their Marine handlers are already the stuff of heart-tugging war stories. But few have had the emotional impact of that of Pfc. Colton W. Rusk, a 20-year-old Marine machine gunner and dog handler who was killed in December by sniper fire in Sangin, one of the most deadly areas in Helmand. During his deployment, Private Rusk sent his parents a steady flow of pictures and news about his beloved bomb dog, Eli, a black Lab. When Private Rusk was shot, Marine officers told his parents, Eli crawled on top of their son to try to protect him.

The 3-year-old Eli, the first name of the survivors listed in Private Rusk’s obituary, was retired early from the military and adopted in February by Private Rusk’s parents, Darrell and Kathy Rusk. “He’s a big comfort to us,” Kathy Rusk said in a telephone interview from her home in Orange Grove, Tex. After the dog’s retirement ceremony in February at Lackland Air Force Base, an event that generated enormous news coverage in Texas, the Rusks brought Eli for the first time into their home. “The first place he went was Colton’s room,” Mrs. Rusk said. “He sniffed around and jumped up on his bed.”

So far, 20 Labrador retrievers out of the 350 have been killed in action since the Marine program began, most in explosions of homemade bombs, Marine officials said. Within the Special Operations Command, the home of the dog that went on the Bin Laden mission, some 34 dogs were killed in the line of duty between 2006 and 2009, said Maj. Wes Ticer, a spokesman. Like their handlers, dogs that survive go on repeat deployments, sometimes as many as four. Dogs retire from the military at the age of 8 or 9.

To an American public weary of nearly 10 years of war, dogs are a way to relate, as the celebrity status of the still-unknown commando dog proved. (President Obama is one of the few Americans to have met the dog, in a closed-door session with the Seal team last week.)

Few understand the appeal of dogs in battle better than Rebecca Frankel, the deputy managing editor of Last week, she posted a “War Dog” photo essay, with her favorite pictures of dogs jumping out of helicopters, skydiving from 30,000 feet and relaxing with Marines. The photo essay went viral, with 6.5 million page views to date — a record for the site.

“I think people go weak at the knees for these dogs,” Ms. Frankel said in an interview. “I do, too. But their contribution is significant. These are serious dogs.”

By Elizabeth Bumiller
The New York Times

ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants.

“Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you’ve stepped outside,” says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. “Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical.”

While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.

Our experts recommend you watch out for the following:

Poisonous Plants
When designing and planting your green space, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family as well as mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden.

Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside.

Cocoa Mulch
Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using aless-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.

Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren’t meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer’s label carefully for proper usage and storage.

You’re doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you’re composting! Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you’re tossing in the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding your pet.

Fleas and Ticks
Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it’s important to keep those lawns mowed and trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesia.

Garden Tools
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet’s body. Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don’t appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

Allergy-Causing Flora
Ah-choo! Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don’t give him any medication that isn’t prescribed by a veterinarian.

It’s also smart to keep your pet out of other people’s yards, especially if you’re unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.

‘Abandoned’ baby animals should probably be left alone

Sometimes the best of intentions have the worst of outcomes.

Lisa Fischer has seen it countless times. Saw it last week, in fact.

As the head of Suburban Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Inc. in St. Mary’s County, she takes in injured and abandoned birds and mammals. But what to many is an abandoned animal is to her an animal that probably should have been left where it was.

That’s especially true of fawns. Last month, Lisa received two. One was an open and shut case, so to speak: It was found next to a dead doe. Without a mother, it needed Lisa’s help.

The other was found in the woods by someone who assumed the mother wasn’t coming back. “They were asked to put it back and didn’t want to put it back,” Lisa said. They said the site would soon be cleared for construction. They wouldn’t tell Lisa where the site was.

Baby deer are incredibly small, often weighing no more than three pounds. “And they’re real thin,” Lisa said. “Like pancakes.”

She tube fed the fawn. “I fought for a week,” Lisa said. “It died in six or seven days. . . . Had it been with mom, quite frankly it probably would have made it.”

She’ll care for the surviving fawn and release it in September.

What most people don’t realize is that a mother deer will leave her fawn alone for eight to 10 hours a day while it forages. The fawn can’t keep up with the mother. A fawn’s camouflage and lack of scent keep it pretty well hidden from predators.

If the mother returns to find her offspring gone, she’ll freak out. “She will search frantically for about three days for the fawn. So the best thing is to leave them alone,” Lisa said.

If the baby has flies buzzing around it or maggots on it, a wildlife rehabber should be called. Ditto if it’s obviously injured or dehydrated. Otherwise, let sleeping fawns lie.

Bunnies, too. “People don’t realize [rabbit] mothers only feed their babies at dawn and dusk,” Lisa said. If you think bunnies may be abandoned, sprinkle some flour around their nest and check back later to see whether mom has left footprints. “Bunnies do so much better in the wild,” Lisa said. “There’s only a 10 percent survival rate with rehabbers.”

This is a good time to remind people that baby birds probably don’t need our help, either. “A lot of people don’t realize that the little birds are on the ground for three days before they really fly. They’re simply on the ground, fully feathered, with their parents still taking care of them.”

Touching a nestling or fledgling will not make its parent abandon it. Most birds don’t have a sense of smell. If you’re concerned about the bird, simply put it back in its nest.

There’s another way humans mistakenly, if routinely, kill wild animals: by feeding them cow’s milk.

“It’s not for them,” Lisa said. “You really can’t give anything cow’s milk, other than a cow. And us, I guess.”

Cow’s milk causes diarrhea in fawns, squirrels and other mammals. It can kill them in a matter of days. (Convinced an animal is dehydrated? Try Pedialyte.)

Lisa got into rehabbing eight years ago when one of her kids found a squirrel. She earned her certification from Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.

She’s actually cutting back on her efforts. It’s expensive. What with formula and fresh food, it costs about $175 to rehab a squirrel, close to $600 for a fawn.

“You’d be surprised how many people think it would be such a cool thing for their kids to raise a fawn,” Lisa said. “It’s not cool. I mean it’s cool, don’t get me wrong. They are beautiful animals.”

But they are also difficult. “They have to be stimulated to go to the bathroom,” Lisa said. “Not to mention it’s illegal to have it in your home, unless you’re permitted to have it. Ultimately, it’s the animal who suffers.”

Wait a minute. Back up. They have to be stimulated to go to the bathroom?

That’s right, Lisa said. Mother deer lick their babies to get them to poop and pee, something Lisa approximates with a wet washcloth. You can imagine the results. Lisa spends a lot of time washing her clothes.

The Washington Post by John Kelly

More Weird But True Facts About Animals!

Blue whale babies weigh up to 7 tons at birth.

A female cod can lay up to 9 million eggs.

Snakes can see through their eyelids.

Elephants spend 23 hours a day eating.

Vultures sometimes eat so much they can’t take off again.

The Amazon ‘Jesus Christ lizard’ can run across water.

The biggest Antartic inland animal is a wingless fly measuring about 60 mm long.

Fleas can jump up to 30 cm, twenty times their own body length.

Bluebottle flies can smell meat from distances 7 km away.

Many birds migrate, but the Arctic tern travels furthest. It flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and back again, a trip of 32,000 kilometers.

Some animals can regrow parts of their bodies if damaged. Starfish can grow new ‘arms.’ Slow-worms can regrow broken-off tails. Lizards can grow new tails.

One golden poison-dart frog could kill up to 1500 people with its poison.

The giant squid has the largest eyes of any animal. They can be 39 cm across, which is 16 times wider than a human eye.

The peregrine falcon can spot its prey from more than 8 km away.

The sleepiest mammals are armadillos, sloths and opossums. They spend 80 per cent of their lives sleeping or dozing.

A mayfly only lives one day, but a tortoise can expect to live 100 years.

Stegosaurus was one of the most famous of the dinosaurs and was an impressive 9 meters long. But its brain was the size of a walnut.

Plants That Dogs Are Allergic To

Many common plants can cause your dog to have an allergic reaction if ingested. While symptoms range widely in severity, some plants are more toxic than others and are so highly poisonous they can be lethal. If you have any of these plants in or around your home, it is very important they be kept away from your pet. If you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic plant, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Aloe Vera
Aloe vera plants have thick, waxy stems that retain water. They are very sensitive to cold temperatures and are often grown in containers as houseplants. Dogs are highly allergic to aloe, and any aloe plants should be kept in a location where your dog does not have access. A dog that has ingested aloe can show several symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, anorexia, depression or change in urine color. Contact a veterinarian immediately if you think your dog has ingested aloe.

Begonias are a common plant used in flower beds and container gardens. While they are an attractive plant, they are toxic to dogs. There are over 1,000 species of begonias, but all varieties have waxy leaves and compact, dense foliage. Flowers are available in many colors, but all will have a bright yellow center. Ingesting a begonia causes oral irritation in dogs. Signs include burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue and lips; excessive drooling; and difficulty swallowing. Begonias can also cause vomiting.

This attractive and popular garden plant can be deadly to your dog. There are over 50 different species of daffodils and ingesting any of them could make your dog very sick. Daffodil blooms have a trumpet-shaped structure sitting on a star-shaped background. Flowers are typically yellow in color, but can be white, orange, pink or green. Leaves, stems and flowers can cause allergic reactions; however, the daffodil bulb is the most poisonous part of the plant. Symptoms of daffodil poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea. Ingesting large amounts can cause tremors, low blood pressure, convulsions and cardiac arrhythmia.

There are over 250 species of rhododendron; other common names include rosebay and azalea. The plant is highly toxic to dogs, and ingesting just a few leaves can result in severe allergic reactions. Rhododendron contains a toxic component called grayantoxin that interferes with skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle and nerve function. Symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, excessive drooling, colic, loss of coordination, stupor, paralysis of the legs and a weak heart rate that can last for two or more days. If left untreated, your dog may become comatose and die.

Written By: Amy McClain