POISON RISK: Donald the bull.
POISON RISK: Donald the bull. Contributed

Protecting your pets from a poisonous garden

RUNNING a farm with chickens, beef and cows, Liz Beavis and her husband Pete felt they were always one step ahead when it came to their animals' health.

After the pair's dexter bull, Donald, died from lantana poisoning last year, Liz is urging pet owners and animal producers to take the dangers of plants on their properties seriously.

Donald was just over two years old and although he was raised as livestock, the family treated him as a pet.

"We bought him from someone locally and we reckon he'd been hand raised because he was really tame," Mrs Beavis said.

"He'd toss his head around a bit and try and stand up to you but you could pat him."

Although the family had cleared its Nanango property of lantana, after a difficult season, the next door neighbour allowed Donald to graze on their land temporarily.

"We were so grateful, and quickly set up an electric fence, checked for lantana, decided it was all too dead to bother with, and let Donald in to eat.

"About a week later we noticed that he wasn't his usual boisterous self, was off his food and not calling out to the neighbouring bulls - and lots of the lantana had been munched.

"It was completely our fault for being so lazy. We were devastated to see him like that and felt so guilty that we could have prevented it."

Australian Veterinary Association president Dr Robert Johnson said many plants, especially around Christmas, could be toxic to animals.

"You might not be aware of potential dangers, especially if you've decided to take your furry friend with you on holiday," Dr Johnson said.

"It's important to seek immediate veterinary attention if your pet shows signs of toxicity - don't wait as this could lead to the problem getting worse."

Some signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors, seizures, drooling, loss of appetite, depression and increased heart rate.

Mrs Beavis said, although most animals avoided lantana, some animals would eat anything.

"It's just being aware that there are poisonous things in the garden and some animals will eat them."

Look out for

The Animal Emergency Centre says some common plants can be toxic to cats and dogs, including:

Sago palm - especially the seeds or nuts. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects.

Tulips - the bulb contains the most toxins

Oleander - all parts of this plant are toxic

Amaryllis - contains a lycorine toxin

Kalanchoe - contains toxic glycosides

Yew - contains taxine

English ivy - higher levels of toxins are found in the leaves and berries.

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