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Are Heather Plants Poisonous to Dogs, Cats & Other Pets?

If you are a pet parent, you wouldn’t want any poisonous plants around your friend.

Hence it is vital to know whether heather plants are safe for the pet you have at home. Let’s get to know more about it.

Are heather plants poisonous to dogs, cats & other pets?

Heather plants have a toxicity level of 1, meaning they can be poisonous to most animals. For dogs, heather plants do not cause harm unless ingested in larger amounts. For cats, heather plants are quite toxic. Cats can suffer from severe digestion issues, as well as neurological issues.

Due to its toxicity level, it is considered to be poisonous for most of all animals. Read the following to know the impacts of heather plants on pets.

Poisonous to dogs:

If you are a pet parent who needs facts to assure yourself, you may be delighted to know that ASPCA and Pet poison health lines have not labeled heather plants to be poisonous around dogs.

There are a few toxic substances that can affect the dog’s health if inhaled or ingested.

Luckily, heather plants do not contain these toxicants to affect the furry animal. Among these, are substances such as glycosides, ricin, and grayanotoxanes.

Having mentioned that, if your dog somehow swallows a lot of the plant, it could upset their health, cause digestion issues and weakness.

Poisonous to cats:

There are around 6 plants around the globe that are considered to be dangerous to cats, and unfortunately, heather plants are one among them.

One of the impacts that heather plants can have on cats if they eat it, is digestive problems. From vomiting to diarrhea, to severe weakness, you can expect a cat to suffer in every way.

In case a cat eats a lot of the plant, it could even have neurological issues that could lead to paralysis if the poisoning is more severe. Since cats are big nibblers, it is most likely they would ingest large amounts.

Poisonous to other pets:

Officially, each plant is assigned a toxicity number to indicate how toxic they are to animals in general. Heather plants are labeled toxicity 1.

On a scale of 1 to 4, 1 is said to be majorly toxic. This means that if other pets have somehow eaten the toxic plant, it could cause severe health issues.

In some worse cases, the ingestion of heather plants can even lead to the end of their life.

How toxic are heather plants to dogs, cats & other pets?

Not all heathers are equally toxic to all animals. Here is a list of different heather plants and a note on whether each is poisonous to cats, dogs, and other pets.

Mexican heather:

Mexican heather is not toxic to either cat, dogs, or any other pets. That is why plant lovers who also happen to be pet parents love to keep this plant in their homes.

However, since plants carry pesticides and other substances, eating them can make dogs, cats, and other pets slightly sick. You can have Mexican heather in your home with pets but always keep them from nibbling the plant.

Calluna heather:

Scientifically, there is no evidence of Calluna heather being toxic to dogs, cats, or other pets. However, since it is a heather plant, it may contain substances that could have an impact on a cat’s health.

You could expect to see cats suffer from slight indigestion if they eat too much of it. Like Mexican heathers, calluna heathers are considered safe to be kept around dogs and other pets.

Italian heather:

Also named Italian ventricose or wax heath, Italian heathers are low-maintenance plants that bloom beautiful pink flowers.

This is why they are popular around and in homes. Italian heathers are similar to most heather plants and can be kept around dogs.

Cats may be more vulnerable to health problems like stomach upsets if they eat a bit of the plant. Yet, it would not be fatal or toxic for dogs, cats, and other pets.

Scottish heather:

It is advised that you should keep your cats away from Scottish heathers as they might have negative health effects on cats due to a few toxicants present in the plant. Nevertheless, these substances do not affect dogs.

Having mentioned that, whether you have a cat, dog, or other pets in the house, you may want to keep your pet away from nibbling a Scottish heather plant.

While it may cause more severe problems like paralysis and vomiting in cats, it can temporarily make dogs sick as well.

Erica heather:

Erica heather plants are safe to keep around your pets. Whether you have a dog or a cat, Erica heathers do not contain any toxicants that may possess potential dangers to your pet.

Like most plants, these also might be covered in chemical pesticides, dirt, and bacteria.

If your cat or dog ingests parts of Erica heather, they are bound to feel certain sicknesses. This is not because of toxicity but due to indigestion caused by chemicals.

How long does it take for a cat to get sick from a plant?

Since heather plants are greatly toxic to cats and are considered dangerous to them, it might take a few minutes to hours for a cat to get sick.

Primarily, how long a cat might take to get sick from a plant depends on how much it has ingested. While small amounts may take 30 to 60 minutes to show the signs, larger amounts would make cats sick almost instantly.

We’d like to alert you that if your cat or dog has ingested some heather plant, it is best to consult the vet as early as possible. It is recommended by experts that a pet that has eaten poisonous plant parts should be treated within 2 hours of ingestion.

What should I do if my cat or dog ate heather plant?

If you suspect that your cat or dog has eaten a heather plant, then we suggest taking immediate action.

Before going into a frenzy, you may want to look for symptoms that indicate that your pet has indeed ingested heather plants. For cats, this is more noticeable as smaller amounts may affect them much more than dogs.

If your pet is showing symptoms of diarrhea, indigestion, breathing or heart rate problems, or even swallowing issues, you could assume your pet has taken in some of the toxic heather plants.

Immediately after, you should clean your pet’s fur thoroughly. Make sure to get any of the plant bits off its paws, face, and fur. Doing this will make sure your cat or dog does not lick or swallow any of the remaining plant bit off its own body.

If you see that your pet has heather plants all over its body, you may have to get your pet washed. Make sure this is quick and only follow this method if the poisoning does not seem severe.

You can make your pet drink some saltwater which would make them vomit immediately. This will effectively make sure that any poisonous heather plant they have eaten is washed out of the plant’s body.

This step works if you have been able to identify the effects of the toxicity heather plants can cast on a cat, more than a dog. Hence, more practically, you would want to call the vet and make an appointment on the same day, preferably within an hour or two.

How to keep pets out of plants?

To keep your pets away from plants, particularly toxic ones, here is what you can do:

Give them toys:

Give them safe toys to play with. This will work as a distraction, and they would not be so keen to be entertained by a plant.

Add citrus smell:

As you might already know, pets are not fond of citrus smells. You can dilute some lemon juice with water and spray it on the plant.

Place the plant away:

Simply keep the home free of plants that are a potential danger to your pet.

Final thoughts

Heather plants are not poisonous to dogs and most pets. However, if a cat ingests heather plants, it could result in more severe health problems. Vomiting, slow breathing, slow heart rate, and diarrhea are part of the health issues your pet might face.