Let’s face it. Our dogs end up in strange predicaments more often than they really should They seem to have a knack for seeking trouble, getting their snouts into anything they come across — be it the trash can in the kitchen or the plants in your garden. Not only is it frustrating, but it can be downright dangerous as well. There is stuff in the garbage that may pose a choking risk. And there may be poisonous plants for dogs in our backyard that we’re not aware of.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center included bouquets and plants, and garden products in their Top 10 Most Dangerous Pet Toxins of 2020. From number 8 in 2019, bouquets and plants jumped up to the number 5 most dangerous pet toxins. Maybe it’s due to people sending bouquets during the pandemic and taking up gardening as a hobby as well.
Last year, ASPCA helped 370,500 animals by giving their pet parents important life saving information and safety guides to prevent pet poisoning. So, which common plants should we be looking out for? Here’s a short list of toxic plants for dogs.
Herbs and Vegetables
Onions and Shallots
One of the most popular vegetables is the onion. It’s practically in every dish and a staple in any home garden. Shallots are not as popular, but both are just as toxic to cats and dogs. As members of the allium family of root vegetables, all parts of the plant and any type (red onion, white onion, etc) are unsafe for our furry kids.
The symptoms of onion and shallot toxicity include loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhea, pale gums, ataxia (difficulties with balance, coordination, and walking), elevated heart rate/respiratory rate, and vomiting.
Classified as an herb and often used to garnish, chives are in the same allium family as onions. If you have Japanese dog breeds like Akita or Shiba Inu or a cat, they’re more sensitive and can fall ill faster than other breeds or species. Chives poisoning occurs because of the natural deterrent called organosulfides that convert into sulfur compounds once the plant is damaged. It’s the same compounds that cause the smell, flavor, and medicinal effects.
Watch out for symptoms of chives poisoning such as inability to exercise, high respiratory rate, irritation of the mouth, white or very pale gums, nausea, pain in the abdomen, fast heartbeat, and excessive drooling.
Another member of the allium family that’s often in human food is garlic. This herb is mildly to moderately dangerous for dogs. Garlic may be good for humans, but dogs metabolize food differently from us. Garlic contains thiosulfate which causes oxidative damage to our furkids’ red blood cells, causing hemolytic anemia. So, how much garlic is toxic to our dogs? Approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilogram of body weight.
You can observe symptoms of anemia such as rapid breathing, weakness, dark-colored urine, and jaundice in dogs who ingested garlic. Garlic toxicity causes gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Symptoms also include depression and dehydration.
Similar to garlic, chives, and onions, leeks are also responsible for poisoning in dogs. They’re also commonly grown in backyards, so if you decide to plant some or have existing ones, make sure that your doggo doesn’t have access to them. The organosulfate compounds in leeks can wreak havoc on your pet’s body. Even just a small amount of leeks is detrimental!
The compounds in leeks can damage the red blood cells and cause hemolytic anemia. Unfortunately, your dog’s bone marrow cannot work fast enough to replace the damaged red blood cells. This will cause oxygen levels in the blood to decrease, which leads to respiratory arrest and organ failure.
For states where marijuana is legal, some pet parents may be asking, “Is marijuana safe for dogs?” or “Can dogs get high?” First, we need to emphasize that there’s a difference between CBD oil and marijuana. We get cannabidiol oil from marijuana or hemp plant, but there’s little to no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the ingredient in marijuana that makes people high. Vets have seen a lot of dogs ingest the plant and edibles (food that has marijuana infused).
Marijuana effects on dogs include ataxia, making it seem as if they’re drunk. Your furkid may also experience incontinence, hypersensitivity to touch and sounds, slower heart rate, and a lower temperature than normal. They may also vomit, which is dangerous as it could result in food being stuck in the throat. If your dog eats the edibles like brownies, it’s not just marijuana you should be worried about. Other ingredients such as butter, sugar, and chocolate are harmful to your dogs as well.
Also known as pie plant, a Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial that has fleshy red stalks and large triangular leaves. All parts of the plant contain soluble oxalate crystals with less concentration on the stems and more on the large leaves. This is the reason it’s safe for dogs to eat rhubarb stems, but not the leaves. Soluble calcium oxalate poisoning is more common in livestock. However, dogs and cats can also become sick if eaten in large quantities.
Common signs of rhubarb poisoning in dogs include lethargy, drooling, vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. Acute renal failure is another symptom, but it’s rare. Symptoms include bloody urine, tremors, and changes in urination and thirst.
Tomatoes are a crowd favorite in almost any backyard. But can dogs eat tomatoes? The answer would be yes. BUT pet parents should take the time to remove the stems, leaves, and vines. Serve only red and ripe tomatoes to your pup. This plant is a member of the nightshade family of veggies. That means these plants contain harmful components, including solanine.
Solanine is harmful to dogs in large quantities, but concentration is mostly on the green parts of the plant. Cordon off areas of your garden where you grow tomatoes to prevent tomatine poisoning. Symptoms include seizures, muscle weakness, cardiac effects, and gastrointestinal upset.
For humans, chamomile is a lifesaver. It’s an herb used as a relaxant and for medicinal purposes for years. Studies have shown that chamomile can help reduce menstrual pain, prevent or slow down osteoporosis, lower blood sugar and treat diabetes. But for dogs, it can have harmful effects if ingested for a long time and in large quantities.
Signs of chamomile poisoning include contact dermatitis, bleeding tendencies, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling more than the usual, nose bleed, lethargy, and depression.
This plant is a huge climbing vine, and its flowers are used to flavor beer during the brewing process. With home brewing becoming more popular, it’s not surprising that there’s also a rise in hops toxicity in dogs. Both raw and dried hops are dangerous if ingested by our pets. We’re not sure why hops are toxic to dogs, but it could mean anything from the essential oils to resins in this plant. During the brewing process, many of these substances are also aerosolized or degraded, which might be another reason hops are toxic.
If your dog ate hops, they may have the following symptoms: excessive panting, seizures, rapid heart rate, abdominal pain, redness around the mouth, and excitement. Hops can also cause malignant hyperthermia (rise in body temperature). A dog’s normal body temperature is below 102°F and can rise rapidly to 108°F or higher. This can cause permanent organ and brain damage, and even death.
If your dogs go hiking with you, it’s possible that they’ve already ingested mushrooms during the walk. But don’t worry! Most mushrooms are safe for dogs, with 99% of them having little to no toxicity. That doesn’t mean you should be complacent. There’s still a slight chance that the mushrooms they’re munching on can cause life-threatening issues in dogs and cats.
The toxins in mushrooms have different effects on canines and felines. The Amanita phalloides is well known to be lethal to dogs. The Inocybe and Clitocybe species also contain muscarine that’s deadly to dogs. The Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina are attractive to dogs because of their fishy odor. After eating these two mushroom species, dogs go into a deep coma-like state. They will usually recover within six hours, but it can take up to 72 hours.
Many dogs die from eating mushrooms that contain amatoxins. There’s usually a six to twelve hour delay in symptoms, then pets experience severe gastrointestinal distress. They won’t eat and drink, often leading to death. If you suspect mushroom poisoning, make sure to get a sample of the mushroom and place it in wax or a paper bag and refrigerate until you can have it examined.
Flowers, Vines, & Ferns
Around Easter in the early spring, Daffodils bloom and brighten up our homes with their yellow hue. Beautiful as they are, these flowers are dangerous to our dogs! If you find your furkid eating them, call your veterinarian immediately. Daffodils contain an alkaloid called lycorine that triggers vomiting. In the outer layers of the bulbs, there are crystals that can cause severe tissue irritation.
Aside from vomiting, ingesting of any part of the plant, flower, and bulb can cause abdominal pain, abnormal breathing, low blood pressure, convulsions, drowsiness, seizures, tremors, increased heart rate, and nausea.
Not only are lilies dangerous to dogs, they’re also poisonous to cats. Lethal lily poisoning is not common in dogs, and there are some lily species that are not toxic. However, it’s still best to steer clear of lilies in general. Lily plants that are dangerous for dogs include Lily of the Valley, Prairie or Rain Lily, Peace Lily, and Calla Lily. The nontoxic ones are Tiger Lily, Peruvian Lily, Daylily, and Easter Lily.
The bulb of the Prairie Lily can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Eating the leaves, flowers, and root of the Lily of the Valley can cause vomiting, slowed heart rate, seizures, and even death. The Peace Lily plant has insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that cause difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and excessive drooling. Finally, just a nibble of the Calla Lily can lead to oral irritation, decreased appetite, and vomiting.
The buttercup is a name for a group of yellow or white flowers called ranunculus. Also known as Butter Cress and Figwort, we find this flower growing in the wild all over the United States. If you’re wondering if buttercup is poisonous to your pup, the answer is yes. The chemical ranunculin found in these flowers turns into protoanemonin when chewed or crushed. Protoanemonin tastes bitter and causes painful blisters in the mouth and tongue, and irritates the gastrointestinal tract.
The flower is the most toxic part of the plant. For topical buttercup poisoning, the symptoms include itching, rash or swelling of the skin, blistering on exposed areas, and painful inflammation of the mucous membranes. Treatment is not always necessarily unless it causes severe discomfort to your dog. For oral buttercup poisoning, common signs include colic, bloody diarrhea, anorexia, blood in the urine, depression, and blisters in the mouth.
Like the other flowering plants in this section, chrysanthemums are a favorite in American gardens. Common names for this flowering plant are daisies and mums. Unfortunately, this plant contains natural insecticides called pyrethroids, produced by pyrethrum flowers. Several products, including household insecticide sprays, roach sprays, lice treatments, and flea and tick solutions, have pyrethrin as an ingredient.
If your dog ingests the chrysanthemum plant, they may experience the following symptoms: lack of appetite, shaking, coughing, drooling, and agitation. Pyrethroids are also considered as neuropoisons, which can greatly affect your pup’s nervous system.
We often find the Asparagus Fern (also called Emerald Fern, Lace Fern, or Plumosa Fern) indoors as an ornamental plant. But you can also spot them outside during summer. The feathery foliage is beautiful to look at. During springtime, you can spot them growing small, white flowers, then small red berries.
Not only are the berries toxic to dogs, but the sap can also cause rashes to both humans and dogs. Berries cause gastrointestinal distress. Ingestion of Asparagus Fern can lead to nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lack of appetite. On the other hand, swelling, blistering, and redness are common signs of dermal reaction.
The foxglove is a sight to behold! This plant with the beautiful trumpet-like blossoms is not only breathtaking to look at, but it’s also low maintenance. It’s often used in bouquets and comes back every season without fail. While you may want to plant them in your garden to add curb appeal to your home, foxgloves are best left in the wild if you have pets.
Because of their appearance, most people do not realize just how toxic foxglove is to their pets. Symptoms of foxglove toxicity depends on how much your pet ingested. Common signs of foxglove poisoning are weakness, drooling, collapse, frequent urination, vomiting, tremors, cardiac arrhythmias, slowed pulse, and in severe cases, even death.
The English Ivy, also known as Glacier Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, Branching Ivy, or Needlepoint Ivy, contains polyacetylene compounds and sapogenin (a naturally occurring steroid) that irritates the skin and mucous membranes if ingested. All parts of the plant have moderate toxicity, whether ingested or exposed to skin.
The leaves have the most concentration of toxins. If ingested, ivy poisoning symptoms include loss of appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. If exposed to skin, common signs are swelling, blistering, and redness. Even though English Ivy toxicity won’t kill your pet, it’s still best to contact a vet or the poison hotline immediately.
This climbing vine with its funnel-shaped flowers is called such because the flowers open in the morning, and close in the afternoon. Although this plant is native to tropical areas in the Americas and Asia, many people in the US still have this in their homes. Many pet owners don’t know that morning glory is on the poisonous plants for dogs list. If your furkid eats them in large quantities, it can be very toxic for them.
The seeds of this plant have the most concentrated amount of toxins. If ingested by your pup, common signs of Morning Glory poisoning are loss of appetite, vomiting, incoordination, diarrhea, anemia, lethargy, confusion, tremors, liver failure, dilated pupils, hallucinations, and ataxia.
This perennial plant blooms early spring and will do so every year, especially if they are planted in favorable conditions. Because they’re easy to grow and maintain, we see this flowering plant in many homes. What many pet parents don’t know is that Primrose is mildly toxic to both cats and dogs.
Although dogs are not as vulnerable to primrose poisoning as cats are, it’s still important to watch out for possible symptoms. Signs of toxicity in pets include contact dermatitis, eye irritation, vomiting, inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, and death (cats).
Originating from the Aegean islands and Southern Italy, this climbing plant produces dainty flowers in a wide range of colors. The name might sound pleasing, but we should keep pets away from any variety of this plant. Sweet pea contains aminopropionitrile, a toxic chemical that can cause central nervous system and musculoskeletal issues.
Repeated ingestion of sweet pea plants have proven to be lethal to pets. Depending on the variety and how much was ingested, symptoms of sweet pea poisoning include head and face rubbing, vocalization (whining and yelping), lethargy, pacing, appetite loss, and weakness. Death was also one of the most reported symptoms after a dog ingested sweet pea.
Trees and Shrubs
During spring, cherry trees are covered in breathtaking pink and white blooms, then produce the sweet fruits most of us love. But these beautiful trees can be toxic to dogs. The leaves, pits, and stems of the cherry tree contain cyanide. Although, the actual fruit is safe for pets, it’s still best not to plant cherries in your garden.
When wilted leaves fall to the ground and your pets chew on them, they can experience the release of cyanide (HCN) into the bloodstream. All animals are vulnerable to cyanide poisoning. Take for example a 180-lb sheep, a lethal dose of HCN for them is as little as 0.18 to 0.72 lbs of wilted black cherry leaves. If your dog ingests the seeds, symptoms of cherry poisoning are hyperventilation, convulsions, collapse, seizures, bright red mucous membranes, tremors, and even death.
So, you’re probably wondering, “can dogs eat apples?” The short answer is yes! The apple fruit itself is good for dogs. It’s a rich source of vitamin C and fiber, which are essential for building a strong immune system and digestion, respectively. Can an apple a day keep the veterinarian away? Not if you feed them the entire fruit. Apple cores can pose a choking hazard and the seeds are poisonous because they contain cyanide.
Although a small amount of apple seeds won’t make your dog sick, it’s safer not to give them at all. Large quantities of apple seeds or small amounts consumed regularly can lead to cyanide poisoning, causing hypoxia (lack of oxygen delivery to the body). Common signs include difficulty breathing, shock, panting, and dilated pupils.
During late June to August, people harvest the juicy and delicious peaches to make desserts like peach cobbler or peach crumble. They’re incredibly popular during the summer months when the weather is too hot to do anything and you want to cool down with a sweet treat. A peach tree on your property would be wonderful, right? Only if you don’t have pets.
The foliage of the peach tree is poisonous to dogs. If your furkid ingests downed leaves, fruits, and stems, they can get poisoned by a substance called cyanogenic glycosides or amygdalin. This toxin is a form of cyanide and slows down the enzymes that transport oxygen in the blood.
Symptoms of acute and chronic peach poisoning include gastrointestinal irritation, anorexia, abdominal pain, coughing, dehydration, drooling, fever, hyperventilation, lethargy, panting, shivering, shock, seizures, cardiac arrest, coma, and death.
This plant is native to Eastern North America and Southeast Canada and known for making its way to our homes during winter months as Christmas decor. Although they’re common in most households, many pet owners do not realize these houseplants are toxic to dogs.
Winterberry poisoning can affect dogs, cats, and horses. Dogs won’t usually eat large quantities because the leaves are quite sharp. Nevertheless, there are persistent pups who will ignore the sharp pokes to munch the plant. Signs of winterberry or winter holly poisoning are vomiting, difficulty breathing and swallowing, irritation of the mouth and throat, depression, and swelling in and around the mouth.
Fun fact: the Yew is also called the Tree of Death because it symbolizes death and resurrection in the Celtic culture. The Yew is an evergreen tree or shrub usually used as ground coverings and decorative hedging. During winter months, they’re also kept indoors as part of the holiday decoration. Yew trees and shrubs look amazing as decor, but they’re not good for homes that have pets and small children.
The entire yew tree is toxic to our dogs. The symptoms of yew tree poisoning are different for each dog and depending on how much they ingested. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, enlarged pupils, dehydration from too much vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, coma, and death.
Many homes have potted hydrangeas because they’re truly stunning, especially when large globes of flowers bloom in spring and summer. And they’re fairly easy to grow and maintain as well. What many do not know, however, is that hydrangeas are toxic plants for dogs. The Pet Poison Hotline states that the leaves, flowers, and buds of this ornamental plant contain a chemical called amygdalin. It’s not toxic, but when metabolized by humans, dogs, and cats, it produces cyanide, a substance that’s toxic to mammals.
I found the highest concentration of amygdalin in the leaves and flowers of hydrangeas. Depending on how much your dog ingested, symptoms of hydrangea poisoning include an increase in heart rate and body temperature, anorexia, diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, and depression.
This fast-growing, dense evergreen plant is seen in a lot of homes and gardens. Lance-shaped leaves and shrubby habit characterize the shrub or small tree, and its stunning funnel-shaped flowers bloom in clusters. It’s truly a sight to behold, but unfortunately, a highly toxic plant for pets as well.
Every part of the Oleander tree is toxic, including the leaves, fruit, nectar, root, and sap. Just how toxic is the Oleander? Leaves falling on still waters will have toxic effects on animals who drink from it. The most poisonous parts of the plant are the roots and stems. Statistics also say that most poisoning cases are from ingestion of leaves.
Symptoms of oleander poisoning are lack of coordination, nausea, drooling, vomiting, inability to rise, dilated pupils, drowsiness, abnormal heart rate, cardiovascular dysrhythmias, collapse, and death.
Many plant enthusiasts have plums in their gardens because of the impressive red/purple foliage and the white/light pink flowers when in bloom. They’re also easy to maintain, and reward gardeners with mouth watering fruits that you can eat straight from the tree or make into jams and pies. If you have pets, you have to ensure that they don’t have access to the tree or the fruits that fall from the tree.
Plums have pits that have a high level of hydrogen cyanide which is harmful to dogs if ingested. The leaves and roots also have a substantial amount that can cause respiratory problems. The plum also has other toxic substances such as prunasin, cyanogen, and amygdalin. If your dog eats them, they will experience cyanide-like poisoning that can result in death within an hour if not treated immediately.
Also known as the Chinaberry Tree, this ornamental deciduous tree is also a favorite among gardeners because it can grow even in the most challenging situations. And because it’s non-native, it’s highly resistant to diseases and pests. It has dainty star-shaped lavender flowers and yellow berry-like fruit that are enticing to furkids. The tree has naturally occurring insecticide found on its bark, leaves, and flowers. The highest concentration is found in its ripe fruits. The insecticide utilizes a neurotoxin that can wreak havoc on your pet’s health.
The symptoms of bead or chinaberry tree poisoning begin within 2 to 4 hours after consumption. Signs of toxicity include colic, depression, excessive drooling, weakness, muscle rigidity, constipation, loss of appetite, incoordination, heart attack, hyperactivity, stupor, slowed heart rate, and death.
Perhaps one of the most sought after autumn plants in the US is the Burning Bush, named for its fiery scarlet foliage. It’s usually planted for ornamental purposes. However, they consider this plant invasive because it out-competes and displaces the native species. Some states like New Hampshire have even prohibited the plant.
Aside from being invasive, all parts of the plant are toxic, have strong laxative effects, and emetic. Although the plant is extremely bitter and your dog will be put off by its taste, it’s still important to keep this plant away from curious paws. It might also take some time for toxic poisoning signs to manifest.
Best to watch out for unusual behavior in your pets if you saw them munching on a burning bush. Symptoms of burning bush poisoning are coughing, abdominal pain, cardiac irregularities, exhaustion, breathing difficulties, coma, drooling, unconsciousness, and death.
For a comprehensive list of both safe and poisonous plants for dogs, check out ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants. Make sure to go over the list first before bringing in a new plant for your home and so you can enjoy the greenery without the worry.
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