Azaleas are flowering

Azaleas are flowering

Azaleas have just started flowering and whilst they may appear spectacular in full bloom, they are particularly toxic to most animals. Azaleas contain variable amounts of grayanotoxins throughout all parts of the plant, including the stem, leaves, flower and even the nectar.

Even small ingestions can cause gastrointestinal upset such as drooling, refusal to eat, vomiting and abdominal pain. Large ingestions can affect the central nervous system resulting in unsteadiness on the feet, drowsiness, weakness, and seizures. In severe poisonings, the cardiovascular system may also be affected.

At a cellular level, grayanotoxins interfere with sodium channels in the cell wall. The resulting rush of sodium into cells throughout the body is responsible for the toxic effects. Both dogs and cats (as well as most other animals) may be poisoned by ingesting Azalea plant material, and recovery from poisoning can take days. Whilst there is no specific antidote, early veterinary treatment can be lifesaving.

☎ If your pet has ingested any part of an Azalea or another Rhododendron, please phone the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. The Helpline is a free service for all pet owners in Australia and New Zealand.

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