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Plants that are toxic to dogs in Ontario



Ontario’s flora contributes to the beauty of our natural environment and is used in food, medicine, and more. Many plants, fungi, and bacteria found in our environment are toxic to our canine friends.  Learn about some of the plants and other flora you should avoid if you have a dog, and what to do if you think your dog may have ingested a toxic plant.


Ontario plants that are toxic to dogs

If you live in Ontario and have a dog, these are some of the plants – as well as some common bacteria and fungi- you should be mindful of. These toxic flora  may be found indoors, in gardens, on the ground, or in water. Keep in mind that  even non-toxic plants may cause gastrointestinal upset or other distress when ingested in large enough amounts. However, there are a few toxic plants that can cause poisoning in your pet, even if consumed in small quantities.


To be safe, avoid letting your dog consume or chew on any plants or other debris they pick up off the ground. Similarly, don’t let them drink from potentially contaminated water sources. Leaves, seeds, and other plant material can leach toxins into water, regardless of if they drifted into a pond or you cut the stems to place blossoms in a vase. Research any plants you choose to keep around your home. Some plants, like dog-strangling vine, sound dangerous, but are harmless to dogs, while other common plants you may not suspect, such as tulips, are considered toxic. Note this is not a complete list but includes some of the more common toxic flora you may come across in Ontario.


  • Yew – extremely toxic

Yew contains a toxin called taxine and should be kept away from your home if you have dogs, and avoided when on walks or hikes. Only a tiny amount of yew needs to be ingested to cause serious problems or even death, even in larger dogs. A dog may ingest a lethal amount of yew simply from playing with a stick or branch from a yew plant.


  • Sago palm – extremely toxic

This plant looks like a miniature palm tree and is found both indoors and outdoors. It only takes a small amount of sago palm to poison a dog, so extra caution should be taken with this plant. Early symptoms of toxicity are vomiting and diarrhea. Damage to the liver and central nervous system can rapidly lead to death.


  • Castor bean plants (also called mole bean plants or African wonder trees) – extremely toxic

This tropical plant is not native to Ontario but it is popular for decorative use in gardens. Castor beans contain the deadly poison ricin and chewing them releases it. Direct contact with ricin causes burns to the skin and delicate tissues of the mouth and throat. Other symptoms include bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.


  • Blue-green algae – extremely toxic

Blue-green algae isn’t algae or a plant at all; it’s actually a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria. Blue-green algae can occur in any type of water, but blooms are most common in warm, shallow, still, fresh water. Subsequently, you and your dog may come across it in lakes and ponds in Ontario during warmer months. Dogs are exposed when they ingest the bacteria while drinking, swimming, or otherwise playing in contaminated water sources. Avoid letting your dog drink water from ponds, lakes, or other stagnant water sources, and be cautious of where they swim. In large amounts, the cyanobacteria in blue-green algae can cause death in dogs, and in lower amounts, it may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.


  • Poisonous mushrooms – moderately to extremely toxic

Mushrooms aren’t plants; they’re fungi, but they also have the potential to sicken dogs. While there are plenty of mushrooms that are safe for human and animal consumption, it’s difficult to tell the difference. To be safe, avoid foraging for mushrooms with your dog and stick to safe varieties from the produce section of a grocery store. Ingestion of poisonous mushrooms can lead to altered consciousness, incoordination, liver and kidney failure, slow heart rate, and difficulty breathing, and death.


  • Tulips and other flowering bulb plants – mildly toxic but physically dangerous to ingest

The toxins in tulips are found throughout the plant but are concentrated in the bulbs. Ingestion of enough of these toxins can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms may vary from mild to severe enough to warrant hospitalization for the subsequent dehydration and weakness. Eating tulip bulbs poses an additional threat because they are the right size and shape to cause intestinal blockage, which can be life-threatening.


  • Lily of the valley – moderately toxic

Lily of the valley belongs to a group of plants that contain cardiac glycosides: chemicals that affect the heart. This is great if you’re in the pharmaceutical industry looking to manufacture digitalis, but not the best thing if you’re a dog consuming it indiscriminately. All parts of the plant are toxic and even small doses can be lethal. Symptoms usually start within a few hours of ingestion and include vomiting and diarrhea along with signs of shock like pale gums, weakness, collapse, loss of consciousness.


  • Azaleas or rhododendrons – moderately toxic

Ingesting small amounts of azalea usually causes nothing more serious than some gastrointestinal upset that resolves itself. Consumption of larger amounts has the potential to cause more serious reactions, such as heart problems, weakness, lack of coordination, and in some instances death.


  • Allium plants (chives, garlic, onion, and leeks) – moderately toxic

These edible plants are commonly grown in gardens for human consumption but they are not safe for dogs to eat. Dogs don’t share our resistance to the disulfide toxins present in allium plant species, so they can suffer red blood cell damage after consumption as a result. If your dog eats enough chives, garlic, onion, or leeks, they may lose enough red blood cells to become anemic. In severe cases, potentially lethal kidney damage can follow. In contrast to the rapid onset of symptoms associated with most types of toxic plant ingestion, it usually takes a few days for symptoms like appetite loss, lethargy, weakness, and vomiting to show up. Healthy dogs have a lot of red blood cells, so they shouldn’t suffer severe damage after eating a small amount of any type of allium plant. Consuming larger amounts in one sitting or frequent ingestion of small amounts over time is more likely to cause a significant loss of red blood cells. Japanese breeds like the Akita and Shiba Inu, may have a higher risk of developing anemia and kidney damage following ingestion of chives, garlic, onion, and leeks.


  • Cannabis (also known as Marijuana) – mildly toxic

Consumption of cannabis – especially prior to processing – is not usually fatal for dogs but it can have serious and distressing effects that take a day or more to wear off. One of the reasons pet owners should be extra cautious with cannabis is that dogs tend to be attracted to the strong smell, and will commonly seek it out and ingest it, resulting in THC intoxication.


What to do if your dog eats a toxic plant

If you know your dog has ingested a toxic plant, don’t wait to get help from a veterinarian. Some symptoms of toxicity may not present immediately after consumption and can take a few hours or even days to affect your dog, and treatment is more likely to be successful the sooner it’s started. Retain the pieces of the plant for identification and call poison control or a veterinary professional immediately. Similarly, if you find that your dog is sick and notice plant matter in their vomit, save the pieces of plant matter to aid in identifying the culprit as you check around your house and garden. Correctly identifying a toxic substance that’s been ingested helps guide treatment and improves outcomes. If your dog is displaying unusual behavior and you aren’t sure of the cause, book an online virtual care appointment in Ontario.


'Similar strategy' needed for global CVD prevention in men, women: PURE – Healio



September 23, 2022

2 min read

One author reports receiving speaker and consultant fees from Bayer and Janssen for work unrelated to this study. Walli-Attaei and the other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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The magnitude of associations with major CVD for most risk factors are similar in women and men, despite sex differences in risk factor levels, according to an analysis of the PURE study.

In a comprehensive overview of the prevalence of metabolic, behavioral and psychosocial risk factors for CVD in women and men globally, researchers also found that diet was more strongly associated with CVD in women than in men. However, high concentrations of non-HDL and related lipids and symptoms of depression were more strongly associated with risk for CVD in men than in women. Patterns remained consistent across countries regardless of income level.

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“Existing studies, mostly from high-income countries, have reported that hypertension, diabetes, and smoking are more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease in women than in men,” Marjan Walli-Attaei, PhD, a research fellow at the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, and colleagues wrote in The Lancet. “Such findings would imply that women would benefit to a greater extent in reducing cardiovascular disease risk from control of these risk factors than would men. However, the burden of cardiovascular disease is greatest in low-income and middle-income countries, for which prospective data on the association of risk factors with cardiovascular disease are sparse, with a paucity of analysis by sex.”

Marjan Walli-Attaei

Walli-Attaei and colleagues analyzed data from 155,724 adults aged 35 to 70 years at baseline without a history of CVD enrolled in the PURE study, which included participants from 21 high-, middle- and low-income countries, and followed them for approximately 10 years (58% women; mean baseline age, 50 years). Researchers recorded information on participants’ metabolic, behavioral and psychosocial risk factors; all participants had at least one follow-up visit. The primary outcome was a composite of major CV events, defined as CV death, MI, stroke and HF. Researchers reported the prevalence of each risk factor in women and men, HRs and population-attributable fractions associated with major CVD.

As of the data cutoff of Sept. 13, 2021, researchers observed 4,280 major CVD events in women (age-standardized incidence rate, 5 events per 1,000 person-years) and 4,911 in men (age-standardized incidence rate, 8.2 per 1,000 person-years).

Compared with men, women presented with a more favorable CV risk profile, especially at younger ages. HRs for metabolic risk factors were similar in women and men, except for non-HDL, for which high non-HDL was associated with an HR for major CVD of 1.11 in women (95% CI, 1.01-1.21) and 1.28 in men (95% CI, 1.19-1.39; P for interaction = .0037), with a consistent pattern for higher risk among men than women with other lipid markers.

Researchers also observed that maintaining a diet with a PURE score of 4 or lower (score range, 0-8) was more strongly associated with major CVD in women than in men, with HRs of 1.17 (95% CI, 1.08-1.26) and 1.07 (95% CI, 0.99-1.15; P for interaction = .0065), respectively.

In contrast, symptoms of depression were more strongly associated with CVD in men than in women, with the HRs for symptoms of depression being higher in men than in women (P for interaction = .0002). “The HRs of other behavioral and psychosocial risk factors, as well as grip strength and household air pollution, were similar among women and men,” the researchers wrote.

The total population-attributable fractions associated with behavioral and psychosocial risk factors were greater in men than in women (15.7% vs. 8.4%) mostly due to the larger contribution of smoking to population-attributable fractions in men (10.7%) vs. women (1.3%).

“Our results emphasize the importance of a similar strategy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in both sexes,” the researchers wrote. “However, the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in men might be substantially attenuated with better reductions in tobacco use and lipid concentrations.”

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Blood Clot Risk Remains Higher Almost a Year After COVID – The Suburban Newspaper



FRIDAY, Sept. 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — An increased risk of blood clots persists for close to a year after a COVID-19 infection, a large study shows.

The health records of 48 million unvaccinated adults in the United Kingdom suggest that the pandemic’s first wave in 2020 may have led to an additional 10,500 cases of heart attack, stroke and other blood clot complications such as deep vein thrombosis, in England and Wales alone.

The risk of blood clots continues for at least 49 weeks after infection, the study found.

“We have shown that even people who were not hospitalized faced a higher risk of blood clots in the first wave,” said study co-leader Angela Wood, associate director of the British Heart Foundation Data Science Centre.

“While the risk to individuals remains small, the effect on the public’s health could be substantial and strategies to prevent vascular events will be important as we continue through the pandemic,” Wood said in a news release from Health Data Research UK, which sponsors the center.

Researchers found that the risks did lessen over time.

Patients were 21 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the week after their COVID diagnosis. After four weeks, the risk was 3.9 times greater than usual.

Heart attacks and strokes are mainly caused by blood clots blocking arteries.

The risk of clots in veins was 33 times greater in the week after COVID diagnosis, dropping to eight times greater after four weeks. Conditions caused by these clots include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

By 26 to 49 weeks after a COVID diagnosis, the risk dropped to 1.3 times more likely for clots in arteries and 1.8 times more likely for clots in veins, the study showed.

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While people who were not hospitalized had a lower risk, it was not zero, the study found.

Overall, individual risk remains low, the authors said. Men over 80 years of age are at highest risk.

“We are reassured that the risk drops quite quickly — particularly for heart attacks and strokes — but the finding that it remains elevated for some time highlights the longer-term effects of COVID-19 that we are only beginning to understand,” said study co-leader Jonathan Sterne, director of the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Center and of Health Data Research UK South West.

The authors said steps such as giving high-risk patients blood pressure-lowering medication could help reduce cases of serious clots.

Researchers are now studying newer data to understand how vaccination and the impact of new COVID variants may affect blood clotting risks.

The findings were recently published in the journal Circulation.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on blood clots.

SOURCE: Health Data Research UK, news release, Sept. 20, 2022

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MPs, Senators debate requirements for medically assisted dying with mental disorders



OTTAWA — An expert told a special joint committee of the House of Commons and Senate that people with mental disorders can suffer for decades, and their distress is equally as valid as someone suffering physical pain.

People suffering solely from mental disorders are due to become eligible for assisted dying in March, and Dr. Justine Dembo, a psychiatrist and medical assistance in dying assessor, also cautioned the committee about perpetuating stigma about mental illness.

Mental health advocates warn it is harder to predict the outcomes and treatments of mental illnesses, and a wish to die is often a symptom, but an expert panel earlier this year said existing eligibility criteria and safeguards in medically assisted dying legislation would be adequate.

Both arguments were made today by a handful of witnesses appearing before the committee, which is deliberating what policies to recommend to lawmakers ahead of the March deadline.

Ellen Cohen, a coordinator advocate for the National Mental Health Inclusion Network, told committee members Canada needs laws to help patients, not hurt them.

“I don’t believe there were any safeguards recommended,” she said.

She resigned from the federal government’s expert panel on MAID and mental illness in December 2021. She said there was no space to identify how vulnerable people could be protected.

The panel released its report May 13, concluding that existing eligibility criteria and safeguards would be adequate “so long as those are interpreted appropriately to take into consideration the specificity of mental disorders.”

Dembo, who was one of the expert panel members, said following those guidelines for people with mental disorders “would ensure an extremely comprehensive, thorough and cautious approach.”

She told the committee people with mental disorders can suffer for decades.

“To say someone with mental illness just shouldn’t be eligible, with that big of a blanket statement, where people don’t even get the chance to be assessed as individuals unique in their circumstances, to me is very stigmatizing,” she said.

While the interim report released earlier this year stops short of making recommendations of its own,  it concludes by urging the government to take steps to implement the recommendations of the expert panel “in a timely matter.”

A final report from the committee, complete with recommendations that address other areas including access for mature minors, advance requests, the state of palliative care and the protection of people with disabilities, is due on Oct. 17.

Cohen called the timeline for the legislation to be expanded by March unrealistic.

“I’d like to see this government push this deadline back,” she said.

But Dembo disagreed, telling MPs and senators that assessors are already gaining experience following the existing guidelines.

“Whether or not March 2023 is a realistic deadline depends on how committed and efficient various provincial bodies and local bodies can be in implementing guidelines based on the panel report. I’m hoping they can do that,” she said.

The committee’s review was mandated in the MAID legislation that required that a parliamentary review be initiated five years after the law came into effect in 2016. The committee began its work in 2021 before it was dissolved ahead of the federal election last fall.

The panel and the committee use the terminology “mental disorders,” rather than “mental illness,” stating in their reports that there is no standard definition for the latter and its use could cause confusion.

Conservative MPs on the committee offered a dissenting interim report earlier this year, saying it would be “problematic” to simply endorse the panel’s recommendations.

The MPs argued there are “far too many unanswered questions” on the subject, and nothing precludes the committee from revisiting whether assisted dying should be offered to this category of people at all.

“Legislation of this nature needs to be guided by science, and not ideology,” the Conservatives wrote in May, warning that an outcome that could “facilitate the deaths of Canadians who could have gotten better” would be completely unacceptable.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022


The Canadian Press

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