What All Owners Should Know About Poisonous Plants

What All Owners Should Know About Poisonous Plants

This is a partial list of poisonous indoor and outdoor plants that may be lurking in your home or yard and harmful to your pooch. As pretty as they may be, you should be on the alert!

One of the first things a dog owner should look at is just how high of a risk these plants are to your dog. Consider your dog’s age. Is he a puppy or full grown adult? Many if not most puppies make their way through the world by exploring and investigating everything orally. In other words, they love to chew, chew, chew. Most puppies grow out of this stage as they mature and stop teething. When they are outside, watch carefully to see if they are drawn to sticks, flowers or tree leaves.

Another risk factor is your dog’s penchant for plant chewing. Some dogs are just naturally drawn to plant leaves and flowers, regardless of their age, while others virtually ignore them. You know your dog best-you are the best judge of potential chewing problems. Many toxic plants rarely pose a threat because the majority of dogs don’t chew on them, even if they are commonly found in their environment. So the age and tendencies of your dog play a great role in their safety.

Poison_HelpKeep in mind also that dogs will have varying reactions to different plants, trees and shrubs. Some will cause only a mild rash or itchiness, while contact with others result in more severe irritations such as facial and throat pain and swelling. This can turn fatal if the airway becomes blocked. Still other plants (though not as common) are extremely toxic and can quickly cause death from even the smallest exposure to them.

Toxic effects of plants, however, vary greatly between species and can change according to the status of a plant’s health. Several important factors should be considered here. These include the time of year it is, the stage of a plant’s growth, the condition of growth (is the plant healthy and thriving, barely alive, dormant?), humidity, the age of a plant, and many other issues. Time of year is very significant; it can actually make all the difference in the toxicity of a plant. The level and concentration of poisons in a plant can easily change not only from year to year, but throughout the growing seasons. Environmental factors playa vital role throughout the year. There are just so many things to think about!

Unfortunately if your dog has been exposed to and poisoned by a plant, diagnosis can be difficult to pinpoint. The best way to verify diagnosis of toxic plant ingestion is often to find a specific plant physically present in the area your dog was. You need to properly identify the plant, and then prove that the dog ingested it. Look for leaves or twigs that have been chewed on or near the plant itself, or collect stool or vomit samples and look for fragments there. Always bring anything you find with you to the veterinarian.

Antibiotics available cannot cure plant poisoning. Usually the best thing to do is help quicken the elimination of the plant from the gastrointestinal tract. The vet can tell you whether you should induce vomiting. Symptomatic and supportive care follows once the poison leaves the dog’s system. This should all be done under a veterinarian’s care. If you’ve discovered the source of the poison remove the dangerous plant from your property to prevent recurrence.

Here is a little information about poisonous plants. Plants are also the source of many medications. The active compound in Foxglove is Digitalis purpura, which is a heart medication. If a dog ingests too much of the plant’s leaves it can have cardiac effects.

Other plants that are important to look at are: Rhubarb-symptoms include staggering, trembling, breathing difficulty, weakness, diarrhea, increased drinking and urinating, and death; Pokeweed/inkberry-colic, diarrhea, blood in stool and possible death; Pigweed, Redroot-trouble breathing, trembling, weakness, coma, and death; Nightshade-severe intestinal disturbances, diarrhea, drowsiness, numbness, dilated pupils, trembling, labored breathing, nasal discharge, rapid heartbeat, weak pulse, lack of coordination, paralysis, or severe shaking, of the rear legs, rapid heart rate, bloat and can be fatal; Dieffenbachia – mouth irritation, stomach upset, asphyxiation, tremors, seizures and death can occur; Azaleas – stomach irritation, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, convulsions, coma, sometimes death. Others that can cause death include Hemlock, Jimsonweed, Johnsongrass, English Yew and Castor Beans.

If you are landscaping, a nursery can help you to choose plants that are not poisonous to dogs. If you have moved, the web sites below have pictures so you can compare the plants in your new yard. If you suspect your dog has ingested a poisonous plant call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at (888)4ANIHELP or (800)548-2423. Be prepared to pay a consulting fee. Or visit their website for more information.

Additional Sources of Information

Texas A&M List of Toxic Plants


Cornell University poisonous plants home page

Cost: Free

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: List of Toxic Plants Phone: 1-(888)-4AN-IHELP

Cost: $44 per case (Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express. The center will do as many follow-up calls as necessary and at the owners request will contact their veterinarian.

Pet Emergency first Aid Videos

Phone: 1-888-380-9966

Email: order@apogeevideo.com

Cost: First Aid for Dogs ($19.95), First Aid for Cats ($19/95), Combo: Dogs and Cats ($34.95)


Common Name Botanical Name Poisonous Part
Apricot Prunus Ameniaca Stem, Bark, Seed Pits
Azalea Rhododendron Occidentale All Parts
Baneberry Actaea Spicata Berries, roots, foliage
Buchberry Lantana All parts
Castor Bean Ricinus Communis Seeds, if chewed
Choke Cherry Prunus virginica Leaves, seed pits, stems, bark
Daffodil Narcissus Bulbs
Daphne Daphne Mezereum Berries, bark, leaves
Foxglove Digitalis purpura Leaves, seeds, flowers
Hemlock Conium maculatum All prats, root and root stalk
Hens- and- Chicks Lantana All parts
Hyacinth Hyacinthus orientalis Bulbs, leaves, flowers
Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla Leaves, Buds
Jerusalem Cherry Solanim pseudocapscium All parts, unripe fruit
Jimson Weed Datura Stramonium All parts
Jonquil Narcissus Bulbs
Lilly-of-the-valley Convallaria Majalis All parts
Mandrake Podophyllum peltatum Roots, foliage, unripe fruit
Mistletoe Phoradendron Favescens Berries
Morning Glory Ipomoea violaces Seeds
Nightshade Atropa belladonna All parts
Oleander Norium oleander All parts, including dried leaves
Poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima Leaves, Flowers
Pokeweed, Inkberry Phytolacca Americana All parts
Red Sage Lantana Camara Green berries
Rhododendron Rhododendron All parts
Rhubarb Rheum raponticum Leaves
Sweet Pea Lathyrus Odoratus Seeds, pods
Tulip Tulipa Bulbs
Wisteria Wisteria Seeds, pods
Yew Taxus Needles, bark, seeds
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