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November 11, 2020

Poisonous Plants for Dogs: Which Houseplants Are Toxic?

Poisonous Plants for Dogs: Which Houseplants Are Toxic?

Fresh flowers and plants can really brighten up your home, and outdoor gardening can be therapeutic and fun, while improving your home’s curb appeal.

However, dogs are curious creatures who like to explore the world with their mouths. So before you plan your home foliage or your backyard garden, it’s important to consider your pup’s safety.

Some plants are perfectly safe for pups, while others are very poisonous, even deadly.

Read on to learn which dangerous plants to avoid, and which plants are dog friendly.

12 Poisonous Plants for Dogs

Some plants are more toxic than others. When in doubt, it’s best to avoid a plant.

Here are a few of the most common poisonous plants for dogs.

1. Autumn Crocus

This fall-blooming flower can cause mouth and stomach irritation, severe digestive upset (possibly including bloody vomiting), damage to multiple body organs (such as the liver and kidneys), bone marrow suppression, seizures, and even death. 

2. Azaleas & Rhododendrons

These flowering plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, heart problems, and even coma and death. 

3. Foxglove

If ingested, foxglove can cause vomiting and diarrhea along with heart problems, which may be fatal. 

4. Lilies

While not nearly as toxic to dogs as they are to cats, lilies can cause stomach upset. Also, some species (such as the calla lily), contain a substance that’s highly irritating and can cause painful burns to a dog’s mouth, lips, and throat. 

And, in particular, lily of the valley causes heart problems.

SEE ALSO: Which Houseplants Are Safe for Cats?

5. Milkweed

This plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures, an abnormal pulse, dilated pupils, coma, and kidney failure or liver failure. Ingesting these may be fatal.

6. Oleander

This flowering shrub is a common garden plant. However, it is dangerous to your pup’s heart if ingested. In addition to causing gastrointestinal upset, excessive drooling, and seizures, the effects on the heart can be fatal.

7. Sago Palms

This popular tropical plant is commonly planted outdoors, although indoor varieties also exist. Ingestion (especially of the seeds, which are the most toxic part of the plant) can cause bloody vomiting and diarrhea, as well as liver failure.

8. Spring Bulbs (Tulips, Hyacinths, Daffodils, Amaryllis, & Irises)

All of these flowers are poisonous to dogs. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy/depression, abdominal pain, and mouth irritation. Additionally, large ingestions of most of these flowers (especially the bulbs) can cause drooling, tremors, breathing difficulties, and an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. Daffodil ingestion can lead to seizures and dangerously low blood pressure.

9. Tomato Plants

The ripe fruit of the tomato is safe for dogs. However, the rest of the plant can cause adverse effects including digestive upset, weakness, disorientation, dilated pupils, and a slow heart rate.

Toxic Holiday Plants

In addition to Easter favorites like lilies and tulips that were mentioned above, certain holiday seasonal plants are best avoided. This includes:

10. Poinsettias

While their toxicity has been exaggerated, poinsettias can cause stomach upset if eaten.

11. Holly

Holly causes drooling and severe stomach upset, and its sharp leaves may cause physical damage to the stomach or intestines.

12. Mistletoe

This plant also causes stomach upset, which may be accompanied by more severe effects like an abnormal heart rate, difficulty breathing, seizures, collapse, and (in large amounts) death.

SEE ALSO: Holiday Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Symptoms of Poisonous Plant Ingestion in Dogs

Symptoms vary depending on the type of plant your dog took a bite out of, so you probably won’t see all of these symptoms listed below, but any are a cause for alarm after your pet has been exposed to a poisonous plant:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea (which may be mild to severe, and may or may not contain blood).
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Itchiness or irritation, especially around the face, eyes, and mouth.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Seizures or tremors.
  • Lethargy, weakness, or depression.
  • Oral irritation.
  • Irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias). This may be more difficult to detect, since most pet parents don’t routinely check their pup’s pulse. What you may notice, though, is faintness, weakness, distress, or collapse.

What To Do If Your Dog Ingested a Poisonous Plant

First, minimize the toxic exposure: Take your pup away from the plant, and remove plant materials from their mouth or fur if you can safely do so. While some parts of the plant may be more toxic than others, it’s best to assume all parts of the plant are dangerous.

Then, immediately contact your veterinarian (or an after hours vet), even if your pooch isn’t showing symptoms yet. Sometimes symptoms can be delayed — but prompt treatment makes a big difference and may be life-saving.

If you’re not 100% sure what the plant is, bring the plant or a piece of it (enough to identify it) with you to the vet. Even plant pieces from vomit or a picture of the plant may be helpful. Different plants require different treatments, so this is important information for your vet to know.

Also, consider calling the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center line at 888-426-4435, especially if you can’t reach a veterinarian right away.

Don’t try to do home treatments or make your pup vomit, unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian or a pet poison control expert.

SEE ALSO: Which Houseplants Are Safe for Cats?

12 Plants That Are Safe for Dogs

Fortunately, there are plenty of plants generally considered safe for canines, including dog-friendly houseplants to keep inside, and dog friendly outdoor plants for gardening.

Here are some popular options.

1. African Violets

2. Areca Palms

3. Bamboo

4. Hens and Chicks Succulents

5. Hibiscus

6. Marigolds

7. Phalaenopsis Orchids

8. Rosemary 

9. Roses 

10. Snapdragons

11. Spider Plants

12. Sunflowers

Keep in mind that, even with plants that are safe for dogs, you may still see some stomach upset if your dog eats them.

Also, be wary of other potential hazards, such as sharp thorns, or thick branches or fibers that could cause an intestinal obstruction if ingested.

How Do You Know Which Plants Are Safe for Dogs?

With all the plants that grow in a variety of climates and environments, it would be impossible to cover all of them here.

So, keep in mind there are other plants not on this list that could present risks if your pup is exposed. It’s important to determine whether or not a plant is toxic to dogs before you bring it into your home. Many plant names (especially common names rather than scientific names) sound similar. To be on the safe side, do your research before bringing any new plant into your home or yard. A great resource for researching plant safety for cats and dogs is the ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant searchable database

How To Plant Or Decorate With Flowers Safely

Toxic plants should be avoided. But even for dog-safe options, be sure to plant or decorate in a way that keeps your plants and dog living peacefully side by side.

Barricade any outdoor plants you don’t want your pup to chew or dig up, and put houseplants out of reach so your curious pup won’t knock them over or make a mess digging up the flower pot. Alternatively, you could decorate your home with artificial plants (plus, the don’t require any upkeep!).

If you plan ahead — researching plants and then finding a safe place to keep them — you can enjoy some greenery and flowers while keeping your furry best friend safe.