So, it’s never too early to start familiarizing yourself with the potentially lethal plants in order to keep your pets out of harm’s way in the upcoming spring and summer months. And if you have any questions or concerns pertaining to your pet’s health, always ask your vet.
Kalanchoe is native to South Africa and Australia, however, it is used as a decorative plant around the world. it blooms during the summer months and unfortunately, the glycoside compounds found within the plant can become concentrated in the bright flowers, that it ends up attracting hungry animals who sadly end up poisoning themselves.
The leaves of the short and squat Sago are typically not out of range of a wandering animal, who may want to chew a bit greenery. And as PetMD reports, just a little nibble is all it takes to prompt vomiting, bloody stools, urinary issues, and internal bruising, and in some very serious cases, seizures, paralysis, coma, and death can occur.
And it turns out, that honey made from bees who frequent azalea and rhododendron plants can be just as dangerous! “Mad honey,” as it was once referred to by people of ancient Turkey, would often fend off their enemies by feeding it to invading Romans, as it can cause confusion and vomiting – sometimes even death.
The potency of several oleander leaves are enough to kill a horse. In popular literature, folk songs, and film, the plant is described as an effective poison – because it is. That is why any person or animal who has ingested oleander will quickly start to experience an increased heart rate and diarrhea, and medical attention should be sought immediately.
Flowers and Bulbs Poisonous to Dogs
Autumn Crocus: These fall-blooming plants contain colchicine, which is extremely toxic, causing gastrointestinal bleeding, severe vomiting, kidney and liver damage, and respiratory failure. Symptoms might be delayed for several days, so don’t wait to seek veterinary attention if your dog has ingested any part of this plant.
Begonia: Often used in containers, these tubers can cause mouth irritation and difficulty swallowing when ingested.
Chrysanthemum: These common flowers contain lactones and pyrethrin, which cause intestinal irritation. While not lethal, eating any part of the plant can result in vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, skin rashes, and loss of coordination.
Daffodil: Ingesting any part of the plant, especially the bulb, can cause severe vomiting, drooling, tremors, respiratory distress, convulsions, and heart problems.
Foxglove: All parts of these tall beautiful flowers, from the seeds to the petals, are extremely toxic to dogs. Ingestion can cause cardiac failure and even death.
Geranium: All varieties of this common container plant are poisonous to dogs. The symptoms include lethargy, low blood pressure, skin rashes, and loss of appetite.
Iris: Ingesting any part of the plant can cause skin irritation, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.
Lily: With so many different varieties of lilies, it’s hard to remember which are dangerous and which are relatively benign. Some — for example, daylilies — are extremely toxic to cats, but cause only gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Others, such as the calla lily, release a substance that burns and irritates a dog’s mouth and stomach, and symptoms can be mild to severe.
Lily of the Valley: Symptoms of ingestion include diarrhea, vomiting, a drop in heart rate, and cardiac arrhythmia.
Tulip and Hyacinth: The bulb is the most toxic part, but any part of these early-blooming flowers can be harmful to dogs, causing irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical symptoms include excessive drooling and vomiting. If many bulbs are eaten, symptoms may include an increased heart rate and irregular breathing. With care from a vet, dogs usually recover with no further ill effects.
Shrubs That Are Poisonous to Dogs
Azalea and Rhododendron: Used in landscaping and found in the wild, the entire genus is extremely dangerous for dogs. Eating even a few leaves can cause serious issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, paralysis, shock, coma, and death.
Holly: Varieties include American holly, English holly, Japanese holly, and Christmas holly. Although some are less toxic than others, it is best to keep your dog away from any variety. Eating the leaves can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal injury due to the plant’s spiny leaves. Symptoms include lip-smacking, drooling, and head shaking.
Hydrangea: With high concentrations of toxic substances in the flowers and leaves, ingestion, especially of the leaves and flowers, can cause lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal upsets.
Ivy: Although a vine rather than a shrub, ivy is a common part of many landscapes. The foliage of certain types of ivy plants is dangerous to dogs, although not usually lethal. Ingestion can result in excessive salivation and drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, a swollen mouth and tongue, and difficulty breathing.
Oleander: All parts of this popular ornamental shrub are toxic to humans and dogs. If your dog ingests the flowers or leaves, he can experience extreme vomiting, an abnormal heart rate, and even death. Other signs to look for include tremors, drooling, seizures, and weakness.
Peony: These gorgeous flowering plants contain the toxin paeonol in their bark and may cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested in large amounts.
Sago Palm: Often used as an ornamental shrub in temperate zones, it’s considered one of the most toxic plants for dogs. Every part of the plant is toxic, especially the seeds. Ingesting just a few seedpods can result in acute liver failure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody stools, decreased appetite, and nosebleeds.
10 TOXIC PLANTS for DOGS and Their Effects ❌
Dogs are notorious for getting their snouts into things they shouldn’t. Besides their dog food, they’ll happily snuffle and scarf up anything they come across, from litter on the sidewalk to the newly planted flower bulbs in your garden. And while some of the stuff your pooch comes across is just gross, other items can be downright dangerous. In fact, there are tons of poisonous plants for dogs that can harm your pet.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reported that in 2021, nearly 10 percent of all calls were related to pets ingesting plants toxic to them, making it fifth on their list of the top 10 pet toxins.
We spoke with a director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and two other veterinarians to identify the most common poisonous plants for dogs. Illustration: Bambi Edlund More to Explore
While some plants can just give your pup diarrhea, there are others that are extremely poisonous and can cause serious problems, like liver damage. On top of that, many of the more dangerous poisonous plants for dogs are also very common plants to have in your home, like sago palm plants.
“It’s popular for people in my area to have sago palms around their swimming pools since they look like mini palm trees and are easier to keep than actual palm trees,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, who practices in a small animal hospital in East Texas.
One dog she treated spent two weeks in the animal hospital on IV fluids, being fed and hydrated via syringes. And because sago palms damage the liver, “it took him about six to eight months for his liver values to return to normal,” she says.
With its stiff fronds, the sago palm looks like a tiny palm tree and can live indoor or outdoor. Its toxic to all pets, says Laura Stern, DVM, DABVT, director of client programs for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
And while the leaves and bark will harm your pup, “the seeds or ‘nuts’ contain the largest amount of toxins,” Dr. Stern says.
Tulips are spring-blooming flowers that many people love to have in their home—indoors and outdoors. Dog parents should skip these brightly-colored flowers, though.
If your dog chews on the lance-shaped leaves, he could get an upset stomach. However, the real danger lies when your dog digs up and eats the newly-planted bulbs, which have the most toxins.
There are a ton of reasons why lilies of the valley are such popular garden plants: They are sweet-smelling, they have adorable little white bell-shaped flowers, and they can thrive in shady places. But one thing the flowering plant’s beauty masks is how poisonous it is to dogs.
“Even a small exposure to any part of the plant can cause heart problems for dogs—changes in heart rate and rhythm,” Dr. Stern warns.
Oleander is a common landscaping plant, especially on the West Coast. This bushy shrub can grow as high as 12 feet, and it’s prized for its cluster of flowers in shades of yellow, white, pink and red.
Every inch of this plant is poisonous to dogs—from the flower petals to the pointy, long leaves.
“Like lily of the valley, oleander also contains cardiac glycosides,” Dr. Stern explains, adding that symptoms can include:
Philodendrons have heart-shaped leaves and long vines, and are a very popular houseplant. Beware, though: These plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate your dog’s mouth and lips.
All parts of these flowering beauties contain grayantoxin, and the reaction your pup gets depends on how much they’ve eaten.
It’s very rare for dogs to eat a lot of azaleas, but when they do, they can get:
These mostly indoor plants have lush green leaves with white spots or stripes, and if your dog nibbles on the leaves, they’re likely to feel as if their mouth, tongue and lips are burning, thanks to the calcium oxalate crystals (the same ones found in philodendrons).
According to Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center in New York City, other symptoms include:
These plants make excellent hedges, since they are like small evergreen trees or shrubs with needle-like leaves and small red berries. You can find them throughout the United States.
With intensely colored blooms (think every shade of pink) that last a long time, cyclamen is a popular houseplant, especially in the winter.
If they dig up the plant and gobble up the roots (or tubers as they’re known), it can affect their heart rate and rhythms, and may even cause death, Dr. Hohenaus says.
When these plants bloom in the fall, their delicate flowers rise out of the ground without leaves—one reason why they’re also known as naked ladies. The leaves and bulbs appear in the spring, long after the flowers have died.
If your dog eats even a small bit of the flowers, leaves or bulbs, they may exhibit the following behaviors:
The toxins in the Autumn Crocus, known as colchicine, can have long-lasting effects too, such as suppressing bone marrow and causing liver failure, Dr. Stern says.
Any plant can upset your dog’s stomach, but the toxic ones can produce severe symptoms, like intense vomiting or organ damage, depending on the plant and how much your pup ingests.
Here are all the plants known to produce the more serious side effects (you can also find a list with photos on the ASPCA’s website):
The best thing to do as far as prevention goes is to not have these plants at all. But sometimes, that’s just not possible—say, you bought a house from someone who had a yen for azaleas. In that case, you can put a barrier up or use a plant stand to prevent your pooch from getting to these plants, says Dr. Ochoa.
When adding greenery to your home, just be sure to get plants that are pet-friendly, like spider plants, violets or orchids, suggests Dr. Hohenaus. Find more dog-friendly plants here.
If you aren’t sure what your dog ate, you can call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. They’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can tell you how toxic the plant is and if you need to seek veterinary care. However, Dr. Hohenhaus urges you to head to the ER if you think your pet has eaten a poisonous plant instead of trying to treat your pet at home.