Azaleas are a type of rhododendron plant. Though a beautiful garden plant, all parts of all types of the rhododendron are considered poisonous to both pets and humans. Animals that ingest the plant should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.
Signs of Poisoning
Some of the visible signs that an animal has ingested some part of an azalea plant includes excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Your pet might also become weak, suffer from tremors or seizures , stop eating or fall into a coma. Less obvious signs of poisoning include blindness, abnormal heartbeat, abdominal pain and depression.
Effects of Poisoning
The effects of azalea poisoning are usually noticeable within a few hours of ingestion. The severity of the effects depends greatly on how much of the plant your pet has eaten. The poisoning is actually caused by a substance known as grayanotoxin, which the azalea plant contains. With treatment, many animals that suffer azalea poisoning recover fully. Without treatment, your pet could easily die, so seek a veterinarians help immediately and be sure to let them know that you suspect azalea poisoning.
Veterinarians treat animal grayanotoxin poisoning in much the same way as human doctors do. Veterinarians can flush your pet's system with activated charcoal or saline to try to remove as much poison as possible from the gastrointestinal tract. The veterinarian will also likely administer intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and low blood pressure.
Unfortunately for pet owners, rhododendrons can grow just about everywhere. There are over 1,000 species of rhododendrons and azaleas that grow all over the United States. The smaller, more delicate plants are usually referred to as azaleas while the larger shrub plants are called rhododendrons. The flowers can be red, pink, while, yellow, orange or purple. There are even evergreen azaleas.
Moving a Plant
If you have an azalea growing in your yard and you would like to get rid of it, you do not have to kill it. You can transplant the azalea to another location where your pets can't get to it. You can even give it away to someone else. Just dig a large root ball around the plant and replant it somewhere else.