Internet Myths and Rumors: Pet Toxin Edition

Internet Myths and Rumors: Pet Toxin Edition


The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) gets many calls from pet parents that start with, “I read on the Internet…,” and while the Internet can be a great source of information, it can also be a great source for misinformation. To help ensure that pet parents have the correct facts, the APCC is here to shed some light on a few of the more common Internet myths and rumors they receive calls about.

MYTH: “Almonds are toxic to my pet.”

TRUTH: Many rumors have some basis in fact, and this one is no different. Sweet almonds—the kind sold for consumption in the United States—are not toxic to pets. However, since they’re not a typical part of a pet’s diet, they can cause digestive issues like stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea and possibly pancreatitis if consumed. Bitter almonds, on the other hand, contain a cyanide compound and are considered toxic. Typically, bitter almonds are not sold in the U.S., however it may be possible to find them at some natural food stores, where they should be clearly marked as bitter.

MYTH: “Hostas cause bloat.”

TRUTH: Hosta plants contain saponins, which are used to make soap. Some people claim that when a pet ingests hosta plants, the plants will make soap bubbles in the animal’s stomach that lead to bloat. The truth is that while hosta plants may lead to stomach upset, they will not create soap or soap bubbles in your pet’s stomach.

MYTH: “Pistachios are toxic to my pet.”

TRUTH: We’re not sure why nuts get such a bad rap, but like sweet almonds, pistachios are not really toxic to animals. That being said, if a pet ingests a large number of  pistachios it is likely to result in stomach upset and possibly pancreatitis—and if pistachios are ingested with their shell on, an obstruction in the intestines could occur.

MYTH: “All lilies are toxic to cats’ kidneys.”

TRUTH: There is some truth to this myth in that certain lilies do cause injury to the kidneys, however, it is important to note that there are many plants that go by the common name “lily.” Asiatic lily, Calla lily, Easter lily, Peruvian lily, Peace lily and Daylily all have “lily” in their name, but only three of these “lilies” will affect a cat’s kidneys: Asiatic lily, East lily and Daylily. If any part of these three lilies is ingested, there may be damage to a cat’s kidneys.

The best way to check if a lily is safe is to look up its genus name; if it is either Lilium sp. or Hemerocallis sp. then you should be worried. Calla lilies (Zantedeschia sp.) and Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum sp.) both contain tiny microscopic crystals which can cause irritation in the mouth (drooling, pawing at the mouth) and stomach upset when ingested.  Peruvian lilies (Alstromeria sp.) are only concern for mild gastrointestinal upset; however they look a lot like Lilium sp. flowers and are a favorite of florists for use in bouquets. 

If you think your pet has ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call the APCC at (888) 426-4435 or your veterinarian right away.


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