Watch Tip: Plants Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

Posted on May 20th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for the week of May 22:

Learn about yard and garden plants that are toxic to dogs and cats. Watch for changes in your pet’s health or behavior and call your vet if you suspect a problem. In an emergency, you might call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) poison help line, 1-800-213-6680 (a fee applies).

Plants Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

By Joy Ward

It’s spring time and beautiful flowers fill our gardens and parks. But while those gorgeous flowers fill our lives with beauty, some plants fill our pets lives’ with danger. Too often we design our yards without checking out how those plants will affect our dogs and cats. That oversight could cause them physical harm and even death.

There are many, many more dangerous plants than I could ever list here. So what should you do?

1)      Check out ANY plant you consider adding to your yard. There is a list of good sources of information at the end of this post.

2)      Watch for any change in your pet’s behavior or health. Talk with your veterinarian if you suspect something in your yard is causing the change.

3)      Keep a veterinary poison control phone number near your phone in case of emergency. Your local poison control may not be aware of plant threats to animals. The ASPCA poison control call center number is 888-426-4435 (there is a $65 charge). The Pet Poison Helpline number is 800-213-6680 (there is a $35 charge).

There are many excellent web sites that can help you check out plants before you bring them into your yard. They can also help you identify the plant-based causes of your pet’s ailments.

Here is a short list of some of the plants that can injure and even kill your four-footed family members.

Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera is great for human burns but not so great for dogs and cats. It causes vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, and change in urine color.

Amaryllis and other lilies – Amaryllis and other lilies may add festive touches to our homes during holidays but the effects of ingesting them include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

Apricot, Peach, Plum and Cherry trees – It’s nice to have these fruit trees in our yards but we have to make sure our pets don’t eat the cyanide-laden leaves, stems and seeds. Symptoms of poisoning from these plants include dark red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, panting, and shock.

Begonias – There are more varieties of Begonia than I could ever list and all of them are dangerous to dogs and cats. While the tuber is the most toxic part of the plant, every part should be kept away from your pets. Signs of poisoning include oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Caladiums and Elephant Ears – Caladiums make excellent additions to shady porches but they can play some nasty tricks on your dogs and cats. If you suspect they may have gotten into your Caladiums or their giant-sized versions known as Elephant Ears look for oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Carnations – Also known as Dianthus and Sweet Williams, Carnations produce showy flowers and sick pets. Symptoms of carnation poisoning include mild dermatitis and mild gastrointestinal distress.

Chamomile – Chamomile is a common addition to many herb gardens but if you have cats and dogs you will need to make sure they don’t spend time around it. If your pet shows any contact dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, or allergic reactions check your pet for chamomile exposure. Long-term use can lead to bleeding tendencies in your pets.

Chrysanthemum – Who doesn’t have a mum plant in their home or yard? They are marvelous for adding color both inside and outside your home but they also add danger for your pets. If you notice that your dog or cat is stumbling around with poor coordination, vomiting, suffering with diarrhea, hyper-salivation, or dermatitis, you may want to check him or her for Mum poisoning.

Eucalyptus – Koala Bears love Eucalyptus leaves but keep them away from your dogs and cats. Eucalyptus poisoning causes salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and weakness.

Foxglove – Foxglove is the source of digitalis which is used to treat cardiac arrest. But if your pets ingest it Foxglove can causes cardiac problems such as heart arrhythmia. Other signs that your dog or cat has gotten into the Foxglove include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, and death.

Garlic – Many people love garlic for its human health benefits but don’t try to share that garlic with your cats and dogs. Eating garlic has some very bad effects on them including breaking down their red blood cells, vomiting, blood in the urine, weakness, high heart rate, and panting.

Geraniums – Geraniums are often used to organically protect gardens against some insect pests. But make sure your pets stay away from them or they risk suffering from vomiting, anorexia, depression, and dermatitis.

Hibiscus – Also known as Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and anorexia.

Morning Glory – This ubiquitous weed can cause some very serious risks for your dogs and cats. It causes gastrointestinal upset, agitation, tremors, disorientation, ataxia, and anorexia. Ingesting the seeds may cause hallucination and cause diarrhea.

There are hundreds more plants that can be dangerous to your feline and canine loved ones. Here are some online sources of information on toxic plants:

ASPCA Poison Control Information —

Cyber canine —

Cornell University —

Pet Poison Helpline —