Even the newest pet owner will learn quickly that dogs are curious creatures who will chew on almost anything and often even eat things they shouldn’t. That includes plants in your house and yard – some of which could be highly toxic. In order to create a safe environment for your pooch, you need to know common plants that are poisonous for dogs, the safest alternatives for your house and yard, and what to do if you think your pet has ingested a toxic plant.
Plants That Are Toxic to Dogs
The ASPCA has an exhaustive list of plants that are toxic to dogs, cats, and humans. Here, we’ll focus on the most common plants that are toxic to dogs and how they may impact your pet. If you have any of the following plants in or around your house, you need to address your dog’s safety immediately:
Azalea Is Extremely Dangerous for Dogs
Azalea, also known as rhododendron, is a very common house plant and it’s also found growing wild in many people’s yards and gardens. Their prevalence is scary for pet owners, though, because azaleas are highly toxic for dogs and can easily be fatal for your pet if ingested. The shrub contains grayanotoxin, a neurotoxin that can cause heart failure in dogs.
If your dog eats any part of the azalea plant, they might begin to experience vomiting and diarrhea. This will be followed by labored breathing, and your dog will likely end up in a coma. If you have an azalea plant in or around your house, and you also have a dog, get rid of those plants immediately.
Foxglove Is Not Pet-Safe
The beautiful, draping flowers of the foxglove plant may be a nice garden addition, but they are extremely dangerous to your dog. Like azalea, foxglove can cause cardiac issues in your pet very quickly. The plant contains cardiac glycoside toxins, which will impact your dog’s heart rate and eventually cause cardiac failure. This toxin is so dangerous that even water from a vase where you have placed a stem of foxglove can cause a potentially fatal reaction in your dog.
The Pollinator Milkweed Contains Toxins
Milkweed is commonly planted in gardens because of its pollinating properties – bees love it. It also grows wild in many areas. Unfortunately, this pollinator is not a safe thing to have in your garden if you have dogs.
All types of milkweed, including giant milkweed, contain either neurotoxins or cardiotoxins (like foxglove). These can immediately damage your dog’s heart and brain and will likely cause symptoms like abnormal heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.
All Types of Lilies Are Unsafe for Dogs
There are many different types of lilies out there, and almost all of them are extremely toxic to dogs for different reasons. While most people are unlikely to find many lilies growing wild in their yard, it’s not unheard of. More importantly, these flowers are popular and common in bouquets, and many people choose to keep them as houseplants.
Some lilies, like lily of the valley, can cause cardiac symptoms similar to that of foxglove and milkweed, while other lily species cause acute kidney failure. If you have a dog in your home, lilies should be avoided as both house and garden plants.
The Common Houseplant Jade Can Be Poisonous If Ingested by Dogs
Succulents and cactuses have become wildly popular in recent years due to their beauty and low-maintenance care. Also known as rubber plants, jade plants are one of the most common succulent choices, with thick stems and juicy, shiny leaves. But if your dog consumes any part of your jade plant, it can make them very sick by slowing their heart rate and causing them to be uncoordinated.
While dogs often have an aversion to many of the plants that are toxic to them, the juicy leaves of the jade plant seem to be more appealing. The canine interest in this plant means that they pose an increased risk to your pet.
How to Protect Your Dog From Toxic Plants
Creating a safe environment for your pet is your top priority as a pet parent. When it comes to plants that are toxic to dogs, the best way to protect your animal is by getting rid of those plants and replacing them with safe ones. But, if you don’t have a way to eliminate the toxic plants around your home, there are other possible solutions.
Only Use Plants That Are Safe for Dogs
The obvious and most direct way to keep your dog safe from toxic plants is by getting rid of them in your yard and home. Doing a solid audit of your houseplant collection and the entire area of your yard will help you identify if any of the plants you have could be toxic to your dog. Once you’ve done that, removing them and disposing of them safely will give you peace of mind when your dog is in the yard or hanging out at home alone.
Some of the plants that are safe for dogs include the spider plant, boston fern, and African violet. Keep in mind that, even though these plants are not toxic to dogs, they can still cause gastrointestinal distress if your dog eats them.
Build Barriers in the Yard
There might be some plants that are toxic to dogs that you can’t remove from your yard. Perhaps they belong to your neighbor and grow near the property line, or there are landscaping rules in your neighborhood that prevent you from disposing of a particularly old plant.
Whatever the reason, you don’t have to stop letting your dog in the yard. You can still keep your dog safe by creating barriers that delineate a particular area in your yard where your dog cannot access those plants. By using simple fencing, you can just mark off a space where your dog can play and not have to worry about the nearby toxic plants. Always ensure that the fencing is secure and complete – a weekly walk of the perimeter should suffice.
Place House Plants Out of Reach
If you have a sentimental or significant houseplant that is toxic to dogs that you don’t want to give up, such as a 100-year-old jade plant that’s been handed down through generations of your family, you can simply find a safer place for it to live in your home. House plants can often be happy high up on bookshelves, where they are safe from your animal’s curious nose and mouth. If the plant grows long, flowing leaves or vines, ensure none of those are hanging down in your pet’s reach.
Be very careful about the placement of houseplants that are toxic to dogs. There might be little spots in your home that you think aren’t accessible, but a bored and curious pooch can be very resourceful when it comes to pulling things off a counter, shelf, or tabletop.
What to Do If You Think Your Dog Has Eaten a Poisonous Plant
If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic plant such as azalea or lily, there is a series of steps you should take depending on the severity of their symptoms.
For Symptomatic Dogs, Go Straight to the Emergency Clinic
If your dog is showing signs of some kind of toxic reaction – such as vomiting, diarrhea, or trembling – you should get them to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Especially if you are concerned they have ingested a toxic plant, time is of the essence when getting your pet treatment for a plant-related illness. You should always know where the nearest veterinary and/or emergency clinic is in relation to your home, even if it’s not your typical veterinary office. If it is safe to do so, call the veterinary clinic while you are en route.
Call the Poison Control Hotline and Your Veterinarian
If your dog hasn’t started to show symptoms, but you are seeing evidence that they may have consumed a toxic plant (such as an overturned jade plant with some missing leaves), the first step will be to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. This hotline will put you directly in touch with a specialist who can give you directions on how to proceed in your animal’s best interest.
If it’s during business hours, you should also try to reach your veterinarian and let them know what’s going on after calling the hotline. Because your veterinarian has intimate, personal knowledge of your pet’s medical history, they will have insight that the hotline might not be able to provide.
Monitor Your Dog Closely
Watching your dog and their surroundings will be the most important step after you think they have ingested a toxic plant. You’ll want to examine the suspected plant closely for signs of chewing or damage. Also, watch your pet to see if they start to develop symptoms. Sometimes toxicity symptoms can show up slowly, starting as mild tremors or even just dilated pupils. Stay with your dog until you are confident they are healthy and fine.
Know Which Plants Are Toxic to Keep Your Dog Safe
It’s a sad reality that so many household plants are toxic to dogs. Many pet owners are distressed to learn that they have threats to their pet’s health sitting right on the windowsill or planted in the yard. Knowing which plants are most dangerous to dogs, which are safe, and what to do if your pet ingests something they shouldn’t can help you feel confident in your ability to keep them safe and happy.