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Name: Patricia T.
Status: Other
Age: 50s
Date: 7/16/2003

I have been told that Lantana is poisonous to livestock. There is wild Lantana growing on the 5 acres we just moved to, one of my dogs loves to chew plants. Is Lantana a treat to dogs and cats as well as livestock.

Almost all poisoning cases due to lanata have occurred in livestock, as you noted. But it can affect other species, including children, if they eat it. The berries, especially when green, have the highest dose of toxins, but the leaves also are a problem. Usually the pungent smell and taste keep animals from eating the plant unless there is very little else for them to graze on.

The main toxins affect the liver. At lower doses, there is enough liver damage that chlorophyll from plants cannot be properly broken down by the liver and accumulates in the skin. Although it might sound as if the animal should turn green, the partially degraded chlorophyll does not have a color, but makes the cells very sensitive to sun. Animals become photosensitive and unpigmented areas of the skin that are exposed to sun can become red, itchy or even slough off. Since livestock consume more plants, therefore more lantana and other sources of chlorophyll, this is likely why the condition is most apparent in them.

At higher doses, lantana can cause severe enough liver damage that animals become very sick or die.

So, the best idea would be to keep your pets from eating it. In Africa, lantana is burned as a mosquito repellent and a number of countries also have major projects to eliminate it, since they consider it a pest species.

There are other reports that indicate that it can harm pets.

Laura Hungerford, DVM, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine

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