There’s nothing I love more than letting my dog run around outside during the summer.
Granted, he can run around any time of the year, but he likes the summer the most. In fact, I don’t think there’s anything that dog loves more than jumping off the deck and rolling around in fresh grass and mud (usually right after he’s had a bath, I might add).
I’m fortunate in that my dog stays close by the house, and that we have plenty of acreage for him to roam around on. I don’t have to worry about him getting into traffic or wandering off to the neighbor’s lawn since that’s pretty far away.
Every now and then, though, he happens to munch on a plant that doesn’t agree with him. He is a hound dog, and I’ve always been told that hounds have iron stomachs! So while he’ll get a bit nauseous and green – and occasionally throw up – from time to time, he has never had any major issues.
That’s not the same for all dogs, though. In fact, there are several types of plants that can not only make your dog very sick, but can even be deadly.
If you have a dog, try to avoid growing these plants – or limit your dog’s access to them so that you don’t have to make any worrisome, expensive emergency veterinarian calls.
1. Tomato Plants
Our dog likes eating fresh tomatoes, and that’s fine – but you do need to keep your dog away from the plant part of the tomato plant (as well as the stems, leaves, and roots of other plants in the nightshade family, like eggplant and peppers).
The ripe fruits themselves are fine, but the plant parts can cause weakness, drowsiness, gastrointestinal problems, confusion, and a slowed heart rate.
I have a ton of gladiolus flowers growing in my garden. Although they’re beautiful to behold, they can cause severe symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, excessive drooling, and lethargy. I’m not sure if this is true of all dogs, but luckily, mine tends to leave them alone.
Great for butterflies, not so much for dogs. Milkweed is very toxic and can cause severe symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, trouble breathing, a rapid pulse, and even eventual death.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera is one of the most common medicinal plants you can grow, but ironically, it does not have the same effect on dogs. Ingesting aloe can lead to diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, and vomiting. Keep it away from your pup.
Daffodils are common in the spring. Although they’re cheerful and lovely to behold, you won’t be feeling so cheerful if your dog decides to take a bite. Daffodils can cause diarrhea, tremors, low blood pressure, spasms, vomiting, and even rare cardiac arrhythmia.
6. American Holly
American holly is another beautiful shrub, popular as an ornamental, particularly during the winter months when it remains brightly colored and evergreen.
This plant has low toxicity, so your dog isn’t likely to suffer from symptoms that are too severe. However, do keep in mind that vomiting and diarrhea can result as symptoms of eating this plant.
All kinds of ivy are toxic to dogs, causing symptoms such as drooling and excess salivation, diarrhea, and vomiting.
8. Baby’s breath
Baby’s breath isn’t the most common flower for people to grow in their gardens, but if you’ve ever received a bouquet of flowers, there’s a good chance that it contained a few sprigs of baby’s breath.
As sweet-smelling as it is, this tiny flower is quite potent, causing severe symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.
Amaryllis flowers are incredibly common in ornamental gardens. However, the bulbs are toxic for dogs. You need to get them out of the reach of your dog, regardless of whether you are growing them indoors or outside.
The hydrangea is a popular shrub that produces flowers in all kidneys of colors. Unfortunately, hydrangeas grow toxic leaves and flowers. Eating them can cause diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting, and other stomach troubles for your canine pal.
11. Castor bean
Castor bean isn’t a plant that you’ll find growing in most home gardens, but if you take your dog to local parks or other heavily landscaped areas, it’s one to watch out for.
This beautiful plant is often used in large-scale landscaping and is severely toxic. It can cause extreme thirst, diarrhea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. In large doses, it can even cause seizures, muscle twitching, and coma.
12. Autumn crocus
These flowers bloom in the fall, producing delicate blossoms that push out of the ground bare of leaves. Don’t let your dog near them, as alluring as they may be – these can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other problems.
Autumn crocus flowers also contain a chemical known as colchicine, which can cause long-term problems like the suppression of bone marrow and even liver failure.
Like daffodils, tulips tend to serve as harbingers of spring. Unfortunately, they are also poisonous to dogs. They can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms as well as central nervous system depression – and occasionally, seizures and death.
This gorgeously-colored plant pushes out blooms that last a long time. It’s a popular plant in outdoor gardens as well as in indoor plantings.
However, if your dog eats any portion of the plant, he is likely to vomit, drool, or suffer from diarrhea. The roots are particularly dangerous and can cause cardiac arrhythmia or even death.
Azaleas, as well as rhododendron, are both very common in home gardens. These flowering shrubs are poisonous for dogs – to the extent that they can be fatal. They can cause less severe symptoms, too, including discoordination, weakness, and a weakened heart rate.
16. Lily of the Valley
Often used in fragrances, lily of the valley is a flower that produces lovely bell-shaped flowers and grows well in shady places. However, you need to make sure you grow it where your dog can’t reach it.
Lily of the valley is toxic in any amount. Even a small exposure can cause serious heart problems along with seizures, low blood pressure, disorientation, or coma.
Begonias are common garden flowers that can cause debilitating symptoms upon ingestion. Some of the most common include mouth irritation, inflammation, and excessive drooling. Vomiting can also be a symptom of poisoning.
Philodendrons are common houseplants, often grown for their ease of care and maintenance. With their lovely heart-shaped leaves and long vines, these houseplants contain an insoluble chemical known as calcium oxalate, which forms crystals and can irritate the lips and mouth of your dog.
You’ll know your dog decided to nibble on your philodendron if he starts pawing at his mouth or throwing up and drooling.
Oleander flowers aren’t just poisonous to dogs – they’re also poisonous to you. However, you’re probably far less likely to take a bite out of these fragrant blooms than your dogs, so make sure you grow them where your dogs can’t reach them. All parts of the flower are toxic and need to be avoided.
Chrysanthemums, or mums, can also cause severe reactions in your dog, including diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, and skin rashes.
21. Sago Palms
Sago palms are ornamental trees that are popular in warmer climates. Every single part of the plant is toxic, and unfortunately, dogs tend to have a taste for these trees.
Keep them out of each of your pups, though, because they can cause severe symptoms like death and liver failure.
22. Japanese yew
Also known as southern yew or Buddhist pine, this tree is often used in hedges. The small evergreen tree has red berries and can be quite toxic to dogs.
It’s not the berries you need to worry about but instead the seeds, bark, and leaves. All of these can cause lethargy, vomiting, and changes in blood pressure or heart rate.
These symptoms can be mild, but they can also be life-threatening, so it’s important to seek veterinary care if your dog ingests any part of the plant.
Peonies are some of the most common garden flowers. Unfortunately, their bark contains a toxin known as paeonol, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting in large amounts.
24. Dumb cane
Another houseplant that is incredibly toxic to dogs is dumb cane, also known as dieffenbachia. This indoor plant has gorgeous, variegated green leaves. These plants, like philodendrons, have calcium oxalate crystals that can cause difficulty breathing, drooling, or vomiting.
Chinaberry trees contain leaves, berries, flowers, and bark that are all highly toxic. They can cause diarrhea, vomiting, slowed heart rate, and weakness, so keep your dog far away.
Foxglove flowers are tall, ornate, and beautiful – unfortunately, they are also deadly. All parts of the plant, including the flower petals, seeds, and leaves, are toxic. If your dog gets into your foxglove plants, it could kill him, so keep him far away.
The buckeye tree, also known as the horse chestnut, contains a chemical known as saponin. This chemical is toxic, causing diarrhea, vomiting, dilated pupils, and other serious problems. It can even lead to coma and convulsions in extreme cases.
Not all lilies are toxic to dogs. For example, daylilies, which are very toxic to cats, only cause minor tummy troubles in dogs. Others, like calla lilies, can seriously irritate the mouth or stomach of your dog. Avoid having any kind of lily around your dog just to play it safe.
29. Nut trees
As a general rule of thumb, you should try to keep your dog away from any nut trees. These contain intestinal blockages and gastrointestinal upset. Some to avoid include walnut, hickory, almond, and pecan.
30. Fruit trees
Not all fruit trees are toxic to dogs, but many – particularly those that bear fruits with pits – are. You’ll want to keep your dog away from the seeds of apples along with pit-containing plants like avocados, cherries, peaches, apricots, and plums. This can cause diarrhea. Plus, the pits and seeds present a choking hazard.
Other Plants to Be Aware Of
The list above is far from comprehensive. There are lots of other trees, shrubs, and flowers you’ll want to keep away from your dog if you can. Some others to be aware of include:
|Lantana||Rose of sharon|
|Mountain laurel||Burning bush|
|Morning glory||Oriental bittersweet|
|Yellow bird of paradise||Golden chain|
|Snake lily||Angel’s trumpet|
Keeping Your Dog Away from Poisonous Plants
Dogs are curious creatures by nature, so it can be understandably difficult to keep your pup out of things he shouldn’t be getting into. However, there are certain steps you can take to limit his access to off-limits plants.
For starters, consider growing in raised beds or containers that your dog can’t reach. You Can fence in your garden, too, which will make it difficult for him to get inside. Remember that many mulches, particularly cocoa mulch, and other gardening materials (particularly herbicides and fertilizers) can be toxic to dogs, too.
Remember that your dog is naturally curious, and he’ll do whatever it takes to scope things out if he decides that he’s interested in something! Take preventative measures now so you don’t have to worry about an emergency visit to the vet later on. Making certain areas of the garden off-limits or avoiding planting those species altogether can help.
If your dog does happen to ingest any of these toxic plants, don’t panic. Make sure he’s comfortable, then get him to the vet as soon as possible, even if symptoms seem to be mild.
Although most of these plants produce only minor side effects in dogs who choose to take a bite, some can present more severe problems – make sure you are proactive to prevent any long-term issues.
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).