We love our dogs, but there's no denying that it can sometimes be a little stressful when they try to put everything in sight into their mouths! This is especially true when they are puppies and are constantly exploring the world.
Most things won’t cause your dog harm. But there are tons of plants outside or potentially inside that can lead to poisonous side effects. With that in mind, let’s break down some of the most poisonous plants for dogs and go over ways in which you can protect your pup.
Why Are Many Plants Poisonous To Dogs?
It all stems from dogs’ digestive systems.
In a nutshell, your dog’s digestive system is different from yours in a few key ways:
- They have a shorter intestinal tract. That’s because your dog actually stores some of their pre-digested food in its stomach for longer than we do. This canine trait has carried over from their wolf ancestors. When your dog needs energy, their stomach quickly releases some of the food into the intestines to create ATP.
- Your dog’s short intestine and smaller body overall give them less of an ability to dissipate or pass toxins before their bodies absorb them.
- On top of that, dogs are simply naturally less omnivorous than we are. While they can eat both meat and plants, humans have a much broader range of acceptable foods since our digestive systems are more robust.
Because of all these factors, dogs have to be very careful when eating plants. There are just more things that are potentially poisonous to them. Of course, dogs are rarely careful and are more likely to put anything that smells interesting into their mouths.
So it’s up to us as pet parents to do the job of protecting our pups from strange plants (and foods).
Most Poisonous Plants for Pups
There are many plants that are poisonous for dogs if ingested. Lots of these plants are popular houseplants, but many more can be found outdoors.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most poisonous plants you should try to keep away from your pup at all costs.
Regular lilies can be poisonous to dogs and cats (though they are more poisonous to cats in general). Even a small bite can cause kidney failure in both types of pets.
Pot or marijuana may also lead to health complications. That’s because marijuana can depress or alter your dog’s nervous system, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, and even seizures. It could even lead to a coma. Some of the many symptoms include dilated pupils and poor coordination.
Also called Cycas Revoluta, Sago Palm is dangerous because the nuts or seeds have tons of toxins that can lead to vomiting, depression, diarrhea, liver failure, and seizure in dogs.
You should also keep tulips away from your pup because the bulb portions of the plant contain toxins. These toxins can lead to gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system problems, excessive drooling, and more. It can also cause cardiac arrhythmias.
Keep your dog away from Rhododendron at all costs. It contains grayanotoxins, which can induce issues like diarrhea, vomiting, depression of the nervous system, and weakness in pets like cats and dogs.
Oleander is another problematic plant. All parts of this plant species are toxic to pups. They contain compounds called cardiac glycosides, which can lead to serious side effects like abnormal heart functions, hypothermia, gastrointestinal tract damage, and death.
Castor Bean should be avoided, as this plant contains seeds called Ricinus communis, which contain ricin. This highly toxic protein is dangerous to both humans and pets, but dogs are particularly vulnerable to severe side effects or death because they are smaller than us. Therefore, less ricin is needed before serious side effects kick in. Ingestion of this plant can bring on severe vomiting, loss of appetite, and more.
Cyclamen has a similarly named compound called cyclamen. The highest concentration of the poison is located in the root of the plant. However, any part of the plant can be poisonous. When ingested, it could lead to vomiting, gastrointestinal side effects, and even death.
Yes is well known as a poisonous plant to both dogs and humans. When ingested, it can affect the nervous system, induce cardiac failure, and induce gastrointestinal irritation. Dogs may die if they eat any part of the yew plant.
You should try to keep your dog away from kalanchoe, which contains various components that can induce heart attacks, affect your dog’s cardiac rhythm, and affect their gastrointestinal system.
Autumn crocus is highly toxic when ingested and may result in vomiting, diarrhea, organ damage, bone marrow suppression, and even internal bleeding.
Amaryllis is very popular for Easter bouquets and arrangements, but it’s super toxic to dogs. This plant could lead to side effects like hypersalivation, anorexia, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and depression.
While popular for decorations, chrysanthemums contain compounds called pyrethrins. Pyrethrins can cause tons of issues if they are ingested by your dog, ranging from drooling to vomiting to diarrhea and more. They may also lead to depression and loss of coordination.
Always keep your dog away from English Ivy, which can also be called Sweetheart Ivy or Needlepoint Ivy. Regardless, this ivy species has compounds that can result in diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and hypersalivation if your dog ingests it.
Both Pothos varieties, which include Scindapsus and Epipremnum, are poisonous when ingested by dogs. It may cause gastrointestinal irritation and swelling of their oral tissues.
Peace Lily is also problematic, as it contains calcium oxalate crystals. When ingested or chewed, these crystals can cause burning, irritation, vomiting, drooling, and other problems in your dog's mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, note that the Tiger Lily is also toxic.
Schefflera also contains the above-mentioned calcium oxalate crystals, so it can cause similar side effects if your dog gets its mouth on one of these plants.
Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is poisonous to humans and dogs, but it’s particularly dangerous to pups, given their smaller sizes. It can cause dangerous adjustments to your dog’s heart rate and rhythm when ingested, possibly leading to a heart attack. They may also have difficulty swallowing.
The popular Christmas time decoration Holly is also poisonous. All versions of Holly are bad news for your dog, including American Holly, English Holly, and more (though some Holly species are less poisonous than others). All versions of Holly leaves can cause gastrointestinal injuries since the leaves have small spines.
Hydrangea has high concentrations of various toxins, particularly in the leaves and flowers, leading to oral irritation and more. Because of this, prevent your dog from eating hydrangea plants to avoid diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and gastrointestinal side effects.
Daffodils can also be toxic to dogs if they eat any part of the plant, but especially the bulb. Side effects can range from tremors to respiratory failure to heart problems to vomiting, and more.
Peony is aesthetically attractive, but the bark contains a toxin called paeonol. This toxin can cause diarrhea and vomiting if your dog eats too much of it.
On top of all of the above flowering plants, you should keep in mind that several tree species can be poisonous to your dog as well. Therefore, you should not plant these in your backyard or elsewhere on your property where your dog might have an opportunity to chow down on them.
These poisonous tree species include:
- Black Walnut
- Fruit trees, including plum trees, apricot trees, peach trees, cherry trees, apple trees, and avocado trees (the pits are toxic).
- Horse Chestnut or Buckeye
- Japanese Yew
- General nut trees, ranging from pecan trees to almond trees to walnut trees to hickory trees. Ingestion of the nuts can cause gastrointestinal problems or intestinal blockage in your dog.
How To Protect Your Dog From Poisonous Plants
As you can see from the list above, there are seemingly more poisonous plants for dogs than there are non-poisonous plants! Fortunately, we can protect our furry friends from poisonous plants by practicing a few smart preventative strategies and thinking about what we put in our homes.
Keep Poisonous Plants Out of the House
Naturally, we should be very careful about what plants we introduce into the home, especially if we have a new puppy who is exploring the world and their local environment. If you plan to adopt a pet, take a look at all the plants you have within biting distance (i.e., on the ground level or on a short countertop where the plant can be knocked over). If there are any poisonous species, they have to go; it’s better to be safe than sorry!
When you buy new plants, do your research ahead of time and check to see whether the plant in question will be poisonous to your dog if ingested. Odds are the answer is yes, but you can still put together excellent flower arrangements or purchase some houseplants to liven up the interior space while keeping your dog safe at the same time.
Your kitchen right now probably has some toxic foods. These can include garlic, onion, grapes, and raisins.
Check Your Yard/Outdoor Play Areas
Similarly, always check your backyard and any other outdoor play areas where you plan for your puppy to explore relatively unattended.
For example, if you have a fenced backyard and know that you’ll let your dog out to play each day for several hours, take a look at the plant species in the yard. Get rid of anything poisonous. Your garden could also pose a threat: look for tomato plants and aloe vera: Humans love them, but they are dangerous to our four-legged friends.
In either case, always make sure that your dog’s outdoor play area is devoid of any poisonous plant species. When left unattended, your dog might get bored and decide to eat everything in sight.
Teach Your Dog Not To Bite/Eat Strange Things
You can also try to teach your dog not to eat strange things that it finds on the ground, though your success may vary on this point. Sometimes it's impossible to teach this to your dog, depending on their breed. Herding dogs and similar canines are very curious and have an instinct to quickly eat things they find on the ground.
Even if you try to reward them with treats and pets, your dog may never learn not to eat strange things outside. So don’t count on this tip to keep your dog from accidentally poisoning themselves.
What if Your Dog Eats a Poisonous Plant?
From time to time, your dog may still chew on or swallow part of a poisonous plant despite your best efforts – even if you’ve got a tasty treat in hand to try to distract them.
Sometimes you simply don’t catch the poisonous plant in time, or they may come across a plant you are unfamiliar with and swallow it before you can get them to stop chowing down. In any case, there are steps you can take if your dog eats a poisonous plant to minimize symptoms.
Remove the Dog/Plant
Firstly and obviously, get your dog away from the plant by either taking the plant away or removing your dog themselves. This depends on how big your dog is and where you are. If your dog has eaten a potentially poisonous plant inside the house, simply throw the plant away so that your dog doesn't have an opportunity to take another bite.
But if your dog has eaten a poisonous plant on a walk, it might be easier for you to rush them home by picking them up. That’s one big reason why it’s important to walk your dog with a secure harness.
A harness is easier for you to grab and safer for your pup if they start reacting to a plant they just ate. The Wild One Dog Harness is a resilient and easy-to-grab harness perfect for training new dogs.
Check Your Dog
Do a quick but thorough inspection of your dog. Check to see how they are breathing, and place your hand over their chest to check their heart rate. You’ll also want to examine your dog’s overall behavior; are they acting normally, or do they seem afraid, overexcited, or panicked?
Keep all this information in mind as your veterinarian may ask you about it when you give them a call.
Call a Vet
Speaking of which, your next immediate step should be to call a veterinarian near your location ASAP. There are several pet poison control hotlines, like the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and more. We recommend writing these numbers down on a post-it note and placing it on your refrigerator or somewhere you can quickly reach the numbers.
Call the vet and describe your dog’s symptoms, as well as your best guess about the species of the plant they consumed. If you don’t know exactly what they ate, don’t worry. Just be as specific about your dog’s symptoms as possible.
Based on those symptoms, your vet may tell you to bring them in for official treatment, or they may tell you to simply observe your dog for another hour or so before taking further action.
If Ordered, Induce Vomiting
Your vet may also tell you to induce vomiting in your dog. Follow their instructions carefully.
Your vet might tell you to do this so that your dog’s body absorbs less of the poisonous plant while other treatments are prepared or while you take your dog to their office. However, don’t force your dog to vomit unless ordered to do so by a vet. Doing this without proper experience or when not needed could cause your dog more harm than good.
Caution and Action
In the end, we can do a lot to protect our dogs from poisonous plants and other potential hazards when taking them on a walk or letting them play outside. By keeping our pups away from poisonous plants, we can help to ensure they live long, healthy lives. We can make sure that our pets enjoy their homes and outdoor walks without worrying about getting sick.
In fact, you can give your dog all the walks they want or divert their attention from interesting smelling plants with organic, healthy dog treats from Wild One. Check out our online store and all of our sustainable offerings today!
Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List | ASPCA
Poisonous Plants for Dogs | PetMD
adenosine triphosphate | Definition, Structure, Function, & Facts | Britannica