Asiatic Lily Black Beauty

Safe Gardening with Dogs and Cats: Common Plants Poisonous to Pets

Do you like to garden with pets? Dogs and cats can be great garden company and it’s important to keep them safe. I have had my fair share of four-legged garden helpers and I will say that some needed a lot of training to safely roam the garden, while others were able to work it out on their own. When I adopted a young Labrador Retriever, I quickly needed to learn which garden plants were safe for her to eat and which were not because she ate everything. This was very concerning until I learned about some common plants poisonous to pets. Tallulah Chocolate Lab

I watched my lab one day as she explored the peas. She has seen me pick a pea pod and eat it. I then fed one to her. She loved it! The next day, I went out to the garden to find her eating the entire pea patch in one sitting. I guess she had developed a taste for gardening.

As I looked around the garden, I knew that protecting my vegetable garden was hopeless, but that protecting her from poisonous plants was essential. I researched which garden plants could cause her harm and I was shocked by the results. Not only is the list long, but so many of these plants poisonous to pets are common in home gardens and households.Asiatic lily Black Beauty

While the term “poisonous plants” makes us think of rushing a comatose animal to the vet, many poisonous plants will only cause digestive upset or have an unpleasant flavor that will help the animal learn that not everything tastes as good as fresh garden peas.

I was told a story where a dog ate a bunch of ghost peppers off a backyard bush. Those peppers are not only hot but also dangerous for a dog to eat. The dog needed to spend a few days in the vet’s office and had to deal with terrible burning pain. Luckily, the dog made a full recovery and when he got back home, he wouldn’t even walk near the part of the yard that the peppers were growing in (even though the plant had been removed). This pup will surely be savvier in his future culinary adventures.

While there are some plants that will teach your pet a valuable lesson, there are others that you will want to avoid altogether. Here is a list of common houseplants and garden plants that are poisonous to pets.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons – these plants are very poisonous to pets and can be fatal. If your pet eats these, get them to the vet as quickly as possible. To keep cats and dogs safe, try planting a camellia instead. Like rhododendrons, camellias are large bushy plants with gorgeous colorful spring flowers, so they will give your garden the same appeal without the same risk to your furry friends.

Cyclamen – it is only the roots of the cyclamen that is toxic to pets, so if you can have it in a place where Pooch can’t dig it up this plant is safe, but otherwise skip it.

Milkweed – this plant is wonderful for monarch butterflies, but it is a problem for cats and dogs. It contains cardiac glycoside, a toxin that can cause severe heart problems in pets. If you want a plant that helps pollinators but isn’t a danger to your pets, try planting bee balm instead.

Lily – if you have cats, you shouldn’t have lilies. If a cat eats the petals or ingests the pollen (even if the pollen gets on a cat’s fur and then she licks it off), it can cause kidney failure and other serious problems. Take a cat to the vet immediately if it consumes any part of a lily, and if you have cats trade up your lily plants for another pretty bloomer that is non-toxic.

Poinsettia – this plant is not as damaging to pets as people sometimes think. It will cause some discomfort in pets if ingested and, at the worst, nausea and diarrhea. You might choose to forego the poinsettias this holiday season for the benefit of your pets, but if Fido does get his paws on a poinsettia and eats it, there is no need to panic. He will be a bit sick, but will recover.

Autumn Crocus, Daffodil, Hyacinth, Tulip – the bulbs of these plants can be highly toxic to pets. If your dog is a digger who is likely to unearth bulbs and chew on them, skip planting these ones. If you don’t have a pet that digs, these plants should be fine as it is only the bulbs that are poisonous.

Yew – yew berries are very toxic to both cats and dogs. If your pet consumes them, take them to the vet immediately.

Aloe Vera – this plant is mildly toxic to cats and dogs. If ingested, it is not fatal, but it will likely cause some nausea and vomiting.

Ivy – ivy is very poisonous to pets, plus it is an invasive plant in North America, so trade in the ivy for a different vine.

Oleander – this plant is extremely poisonous to pets and can be fatal. If you have pets, try planting gardenias instead. Gardenia flowers have a similar shape and color to oleander but will not harm pets if consumed.

Foxglove – this plant is poisonous to both cats and dogs. It can cause serious health problems and can even be fatal.

Bird of Paradise – this common houseplant is very toxic for dogs and cats. Keep it in a spot where pets can’t access it or trade it in for another houseplant.

Araceae – the araceae family includes such common plants as Elephant’s Ear, Calla lily, Philodendron, Peace lily, Schefflera, and Chinese evergreen. Araceae are mildly to moderately harmful to pets and can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing.


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If your pet eats any plants that you are unsure of you should take them to the vet for a checkup, especially if you notice your pet acting strangely, seeming lethargic, or drooling more than usual. There are many toxic garden plants that can cause varying symptoms depending on pet size and amount ingested. Often, the poisoning is less serious. But to be safe, it’s a good idea to watch your pets and take them to a vet if there is any suspicion that they may have been poisoned.

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About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Summer
    SummerSeptember 1,16

    Thanks for sharing this! I am surprised to know that Lilies are poisonous to pets ♥

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseSeptember 2,16

      Yes, and cats especially. It can be very serious. Thanks for visiting :)

  2. Sari Jenning
    Sari JenningSeptember 1,16

    I am a garden-lover and an animal-lover, too. Thanks for sharing this useful information. I used to think these plants as fine with my furry friends.
    I’m so happy if you have some time to check out my blog

  3. Claudia Phillips
    Claudia PhillipsSeptember 8,16

    Good information, but I think most pets know enough not to eat these plants. Animals have better senses than we do and usually know what is good for them and what is not. For example, they will eat certain types of grass when they need it. But surely there are some animals that don’t know what’s good for them and this information can be helpful to owners.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseSeptember 8,16

      Hi Claudia, I wish that were true in my house! My lab would eat anything and had to be supervised in the garden at all times and I have a little 9lb dog who had a seizure before I looked into the toxicity of my houseplants. I always joked that these two mutts wouldn’t have survived a day in the wild. Oy!

  4. Tana Mason
    Tana MasonSeptember 9,16

    Thanks for sharing this information!! I love my four legged pets and my job is to keep them safe. Please come share this at our party! We would love to have you!

  5. Megan
    MeganSeptember 9,16

    So many things I wouldn’t know! I’ll have to share this with my gardener, aka my mom. I’ve got a black thumb! Thanks for sharing with us at Merry Monday!

  6. Jana Vieth
    Jana ViethSeptember 18,16

    Hi Stephanie – I am so glad I read your article! I have three dogs, and your article made me stop and take a look at my flower garden. I have Milkweed planted in order to attract butterflies but will definitely remove this plant and substitute Bee Balm. Your identification of plants to use instead of the poisonous plants was a great addition to your article and so very beneficial to me. Thanks so much.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseSeptember 19,16

      Hi Jana, you are very welcome! I’m glad that the alternative plant list was helpful. Best to you and your pack :)

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