Perhaps you are planning a new garden, office space, or retail environment and are just trying to make your daily environment safer for your dog. Either way, it is important to know what common poisonous plants for dogs in your region might be dangerous for pets if accidentally ingested. There are many plants that have adverse side effects for animals, and being able to identify what you see while out and about will make your daily routine safer for both your own pup as well as your four-legged neighbors.
Most pet owners are aware of some of the more common poisonous plants for dogs that pose a threat, such as fruit trees like apple and apricot, whose leaves and seeds contain cyanide, and Deadly Nightshade that broadcasts itself in its name—as do the more animal-specific Wolfsbane and Dogbane. However, there are many common plants that have side effects which dog owners may not be aware. Toxicity reactions in pets can range from mild to severe and include oral irritation, vomiting or diarrhea, heart issues, organ failure, or even mood alterations—for example, the Hosta plant, which when eaten can cause depression in dogs. Any time your pet is showing unusual symptoms or behavior, you should seek a veterinarian’s advice immediately, but being able to identify what plants or flowers your pets have been exposed to can expedite treatment and recovery.
It is important to research the plants you are choosing for your project, pay specific attention to what plants are most common to your region, and how to identify the major ones so as to be aware of them growing in area parks and trails, as well as your neighbors’ gardens. For a deeper dive, the ASPCA and the Humane Society both have thorough lists of plants that are toxic or life-threatening to dogs and cats, as well as non-toxic plants that might still cause adverse health effects in your animals, as it’s not uncommon for plant material that is non-toxic to still cause gastrointestinal upset for animals.
Here are 10 of the most common poisonous plants for dogs that you should be aware of while implementing plants into your space.
Most common in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region, the Azalea is a familiar flowering bush that blooms in the spring with vibrant fuchsia and purple blossoms. A member of the same family as rhododendrons, the azalea is highly toxic to dogs if they ingest even a few leaves. The symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling. In severe cases and if left without medical treatment, ingestion of the Azalea plant can lead to coma and possibly death.
A popular household or potted plant due to its tropical nature, Dieffenbachia has long flat leaves, alternating on a straight stem, with a central white pattern of spots and flecks. Members of its family are often commonly known as Dumbcane or Mother-in-law’s tongue as well. When eaten by dogs, the leaves can cause oral irritation, difficulty swallowing, nausea and vomiting, and a burning sensation in the mouth.
A popular ornamental shrub due to its versatile nature in a wide range of growing conditions, Oleander is already well known for its toxicity to not just animals but people as well. The shrub features medium-sized five-petal blooms in hues that range from white and pale pink to deep fuchsia. A part of the Apocynaceae family (aptly also referred to as the dogbane family), it is highly toxic to dogs, causing muscle tremors, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, slowing to the heart rate, abdominal pain, and possibly even death.
While spring crocus plants can cause some gastrointestinal upset for dogs, it is the somewhat less common fall blooming Autumn Crocus that contain colchicine, a highly toxic alkaloid that can lead to severe health issues. Symptoms from ingestion include bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure, seizures, and even death. Like many bulb plants, including the Daffodil and Tulip, while the entire plant is toxic, the highest toxicity is in the bulb.
A very common bulb plant, the Daffodil (also known as Jonquil or Narcissus), is a bright yellow or white flower blooming in early spring. The whole plant is considered toxic to dogs, but the bulb is the most poisonous part. Consumption of any part of the plant by dogs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, as well as cardiac arrhythmias, convulsions, or a serious drop in blood pressure.
Tulips, popular for their many varieties of bright colors, are a spring-blooming bulb flower. Similarly to Daffodils, while most of the Tulip plant is toxic, the bulbs are of the greatest danger to dogs that eat them, as the highest concentration of the toxic alkaloids in the plant is found there. Symptoms of ingestion include abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, diarrhea, depression, dizziness, excessive drooling, lethargy, seizures, difficulty breathing, tremors, vomiting, and possibly death.
The Sago Palm, actually a member of the Cycad family and not the Arecaceae family which is the classification for palms, is a popular tropical plant in warmer climates and also commonly used for indoor potted planting. Its shiny, dark green leaves on a thick shaggy trunk identify the plant, which looks similar to palms. However, the sago palm is considered very harmful to animals. Ingestion of the leaves and seeds can cause thirst, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, severe liver failure, damage to the stomach linings, and sometimes death.
Like Oleander, Foxglove is an extremely toxic plant to people as well as animals. Often seen in the wild, it’s recognizable by its tall stalks of spring-blooming bell-shaped flowers in bright purple, pink, yellow, or rose. Its bright colors make it popular in private gardens, although it is commonly found in wild and woodland areas. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, and symptoms in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac arrhythmias or failure, and death.
Amaryllis is a particularly popular blub flower due to its wide variety of colors and ease of growth, as well as extended bloom time from December through June; the Amaryllis is especially common around Easter time. The plant features a tall stem with a cluster of trumpet-shaped blooms on top, most commonly in deep red but also occasionally blooms in pale pinks or purples. Despite its beautiful appearance, the plant is highly toxic to most animals, and symptoms in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and tremors.
This wild blooming plant is found in cooler temperate Northern Hemisphere regions and is recognizable by its stalk of small, delicate white bell-like flowers and strong sweet scent. Usually blooming in woodland areas, though it can also be found in residential gardens, Lily of the Valley is a highly poisonous plant for dogs. Symptoms are similar to digitalis (Foxglove) ingestion and include vomiting, irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrhythmia, disorientation, seizures, and coma.
While the internal gel is commonly used in medical and skin care products for humans, the plant material of the Aloe plant contains the chemical saponin, which is toxic for animals as well as children if ingested. Symptoms from ingestion in dogs can include abrupt onset diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, and anorexia.
For further research, more information can be found from the ASPCA and the Humane Society, as well as by visiting the Pet Poison Helpline for help on identifying symptoms and causes. In all cases of extreme reactions in your pet, it is recommended to contact a veterinarian immediately for medical consultation.