Poisonous Plants and Your Dog
For those of you who like the odd spot of gardening and have a dog, there can be some potential problems in your garden which you may be completely unaware of. Dogs are very sensitive creatures and especially sensitive when it comes to plants. Many plants are far more toxic than we give them credit for and like you, your dog doesn’t know any better. So much as a nibble on the wrong type of plant can cause some extremely worrying problems to present themselves.
Obviously, if you do all of your gardening in an allotment plot, then this shouldn’t worry you too much unless you take your dog down there as well. But for those of you who spend time gardening at home, this could very well prove problematic unless you take action to ensure there are no dangerous plants lurking around outside.
So, for you green fingers out there that are blessed with a dog that likes mooching about in your garden, we strongly advise you to brush up on your knowledge of dangerous plants to help keep your canine in good health. It’s akin to baby proofing your house for a new arrival, except, instead, you’re dog-proofing your garden so to speak.
Why Are Plants Dangerous To Dogs?
Well, if you stop for a minute and think about it, dogs are pretty active and if they want something to nibble on or play with, chances are they’re going to do just that. Even if you give them all the toys in the world to play with, there will come a time when you let them out in the garden and they just want to explore a bit more. Little Dave will finally get fed up of chewing on bones or your £300 heels (yes, this has happened to the other half before) and he decides to wander down the garden and have a play in the plants.
In most circumstances, that’s fine. However, sometimes, he might bite off more than he can chew or stumble into the wrong bush and this is when things can really take a turn for the worse.
Due to toxicity, some plants and seeds can cause anything from a mild rash and upset stomachs all the way to organ damage and in some extreme cases, death. Be aware that your dog doesn’t even have to ingest anything for problems to occur. Simply rubbing up against or coming into contact with certain types of flowers or plants can trigger a reaction. That’s why it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
What Plants Should You Worry About?
Quite frankly, there are a lot of plants you need to worry about and I mean a lot. To write all of the plants that your dog could get ill from would take me the best part of a day and it would take you the best part of a day to read it as well. With my sanity in mind and without wanting to waste your time, I’m just going to highlight the most common plants that present a risk to your dog if ingested.
Because there are so many plants which are toxic to dogs, it’s best if we split them up into categories. With this in mind I’ve gone listed plants and categorised them by those which can result in mild problems, moderate problems and severe problems. This should help give you an idea of the ones which you really ought to keep your dog/s away from.
Mild Toxicity Plants & Problems
We consider mild toxicity to induce reactions such as rashes (dermatitis) and small stomach upsets which can result in excess gas and/or diarrhoea. Some of these plants are common to gardens and some aren’t; see the list below for some examples:
- Poison ivy & oak: Contact with the leaves on these plants can cause quite strong rashes and even blisters to appear. Dogs with lots of fur will unlikely be affected, however, regions such as the nose or groin are often exposed and can be affected.
- Chrysanthemums & daisies: Contact with leaves or flowers can result in rashes. If ingested, there’s a chance of stomach upsets which can lead to diarrhoea or excess drooling.
- Sumac: All parts of this plant, especially the berries can cause a rash to appear. Like poison ivy, it can also result in blisters.
- Primroses: Whilst they’re often an indoor plant, they can also be planted outdoors. These again can cause a rash if your dog comes into contact with its leaves.
- Cactus: Whilst not likely to be found in your garden, this can cause rashes, skin infections and even open sores if contact is made with the spines.
Moderate Toxicity Plants & Problems
With regards to moderate toxicity, the plants included in this list have the potential to cause upset to your dog’s stomach, digestive system, mental health and nervous system. Again some of these plants are fairly common, whereas some are not:
- Foxglove: This plant contains digitalis which is used as medication to ensure heart functionality. If ingested by dogs, this can cause an irregular heartbeat, palpitations, confusion as well as harsh stomach problems. Whilst this plant may look stunning, your dog won’t feel the same about it.
- Daffodils & lilies: These plants contain lycorine which is poisonous to both dogs and humans. It can lead to depression, lack of nervous system control including muscle spasms, nausea as well as vomiting and severe abdominal pain / cramps.
- Nightshade plants: This group of plants are known for inducing weight loss through diarrhoea and other stomach upsets. Depression, muscle spasms and various other nervous system problems are also common.
- Crocus & juniper: Berries and leaves from the juniper plant can lead to kidney failure and similarly the same can happen from any parts of the crocus plant. Crocus also has the ability to cause problems with respiratory functions and liver damage.
- Oak Trees: The leaves as well as acorns from an oak tree can have a detrimental effect on the kidneys if consumed in large amounts.
Severe Toxicity Plants & Problems
These are a selection of the worst plants around, at least when it comes to dogs. They have the ability to cause permanent organ damage, induce comas and even inflict death. You should dispose of any of these plants, flowers or seeds that you may have in your garden; it’s not worth the risk growing any of them if you have a dog as a pet. The list below outlines some of the deadly plants in question:
- Azaleas & rhododendrons: These plants provide a lot of colour and can be a highlight of the garden, but they can also lead to death in large amounts. They’ve also been known to induce comas, paralyse dogs, cause convulsions and worst of all, heart failure.
- Mistletoe: A lovely spectacle for humans around Christmas time; but a deadly plant for dogs. The berries can lead to a complete shutdown of the digestive and nervous system which results in death not too long after.
- Oleander & Larkspur: Both of these can cause extreme digestive upset as well as cardiovascular problems with the heart. Can lead to death if not treated.
- Yew: Both the berries as well as the foliage can cause sudden death with minimal symptoms. Abdominal pain coupled with vomiting and excess drooling is one sign of ingestion.
For further reading and a more comprehensive list, please see this PDF from DogsTrust.
What to Do?!
Sometimes, by no fault of your own, your dog may come into contact or eat one of the aforementioned flowers, plants or seeds. Even if your dog appears to be fine, keep a close eye on them over the next week or two to make sure nothing changes; it may be wise to schedule a vet appointment just to be on the safe side. If you notice immediate problems, ring your veterinarian ASAP to seek advice on what actions to take.
I can’t stress this enough, please don’t brush problems off and think they’ll get better on their own. Many dog owners have made this mistake before and in some cases it’s something they will regret forever. For the sake of your dog’s health, ring or visit the vet to seek proper medical advice.
Whilst we just want to raise awareness, we also have to be extremely careful as a few people will take this to be a full list that includes all plants that are poisonous to dogs. For this reason, we’ve included a disclaimer below.
Disclaimer: The writer and publisher of this article assume no liability for any content produced in this article. The list of plants included is not comprehensive and does not represent all flowers, plants and seeds that are poisonous or toxic to dogs. It is also worth bearing in mind that your dog may have allergies or heightened sensitivity to other plants that are not included on the lists. Please contact your veterinarian when in doubt. Image is for illustrative purposes only.