Which Plants are Toxic to Dogs?
I received my Burpee seed catalog yesterday, so I’m all excited about planning my garden for this summer. As you start thinking about spring and outdoor plants, make sure you know which plants are safe for your dog and which ones you should avoid. There is a very exhaustive list on the ASPCA’s site, and we’ll discuss a few of the common ones below.
Fruits and Vegetables
This one was surprising to me. I’ve always given apple cores to my dogs, but apparently the stems, leaves, and seeds of apple trees contain cyanide which can cause your dog to have breathing difficulties and go into shock. Symptoms include brick red mucous membranes on the gums, dilated pupils, and panting. In addition to apple trees, the trees that give us apricots, plums, peaches, and cherries also present a cyanide problem.
Avocado plants can cause huge problems in other animals where they inflame mammary glands and can produce fluid around the heart. In dogs, however, they are not as much of a problem, causing only vomiting and diarrhea.
Fig plants including the weeping fig and the Indian rubber plant can cause dermatitis when touched, and oral irritation when eaten.
Rhubarb plants can contain soluble calcium oxalates which will induce kidney failure in dogs. So, if you’re baking me a pie, please keep the rhubarb in a part of the yard where your dog can’t get to it.
California ivy, branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy, and English ivy can all cause a problem for your pooch. The foliage is more toxic than the berries, and causes vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
For those of you in California, if you’re growing your own medical marijuana, you should know that you need to keep it away from your dog. The THC in pot causes prolonged depression, vomiting, incoordination, dilated pupils, low body temperature and low blood pressure. In rare cases, it can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. No word on whether or not munchies are involved.
The nicotine in tobacco plants can cause your dog to become hyper-excitable, then depressed. Vomiting, incoordination, and paralysis may be followed by death.
The lovely chrysanthemum – who knew? It has many toxins that can irritate your dog’s tummy, causing vomiting and diarrhea, as well as dermatitis and incoordination. And daisies are actually a part of the mum family, so they cause the same problems.
If you live where the weather has been unseasonably warm this spring, you may be seeing your daffodils coming up soon. These plants contain alkaloids and lycorine that can reduce your dog’s blood pressure, causing tremors and heart rhythm problems. Early symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, while eating a bunch of the bulbs can cause convulsions. Watch out if you have diggers!
The lovely iris plant, also known as a snake lily or water flag, can cause vomiting, excessive drooling, and diarrhea. Most of the lily family causes similar problems, as do tulips.
The desert rose, in my opinion, the prettiest cactus ever, must be kept away from your dog as well. This plant contains digitalis (a common heart medication) which can fatally interfere with the heartbeat of a healthy dog. The foxglove plant also contains digitalis.
Geraniums can cause your dog to stop eating and may irritate the skin.
Morning glories can cause GI upset as well as agitation, tremors, and disorientation. The seeds can also cause hallucination.
I guess I’ve been lucky. My dogs have always chewed on my rhododendron shrub, but now I find out it is highly toxic. Ingestion of even a few leaves can cause depression of the central nervous system and circulatory system resulting in death.
Sweet pea flowers, although beautiful, can make your dog become lethargic and weak. Early symptoms include pacing and rubbing of the head against the ground.
What to do if your dog eats a toxic plant?
The best way to prevent your dog from being poisoned by your garden is to simply put the garden outside the fence or out of reach of the end of the chain. If you’re out of your own yard, keep your dog on-leash to prevent any accidental exposure at the park or even in your neighbor’s yard.
If you suspect your dog has eaten a poisonous plant, contact your regular veterinarian, your local emergency vet, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. Be aware that the poison control center may charge you a consultation fee of $65.
Just so you know, if you don’t have any room for a garden outside of your dog’s reach, consider the following plants, which are non-toxic.
- Most varieties of squash
- African violets
- Christmas Orchid
- Orange daylilly
- Wild hyacinth
- Boston fern
- Bachelor buttons
- Gerber daisies
- Grape hyacinth
- Jacob’s ladder
- Mistletoe Cactus
- Roses (other than the problem with thorns)
Interestingly, poison ivy, oak, and sumac are non-toxic to dogs. OK – not that you would purposely grow these, but good to know it won’t hurt your dog to get into these on walks through the woods. However, beware that these plants produce an oil which can get on your dog if he brushes against the leaves. If you then come into contact with the oil when petting or grooming your dog, and if you’re allergic, you will break out just as if you had touched the plant yourself. If you suspect your dog has come into contact with posion ivy, oak, or sumac, wear gloves and long sleeves while you thoroughly bathe your dog. You might want to add some Dawn dishwashing liquid to your usual shampoo to bust through the oil.