Toxic Plants & Garden Dangers

Spring Dangers Toxic Plants 980x472

Having plants can be beneficial for humans; they look nice, purify our air, reduce stress, and help us breathe easier, but for our canine and feline friends, some plants can be deadly.The most important thing to remember if your pet has ingested a known plant toxin is that time matters. Whether or not vomiting should be induced also depends upon the particular plant- in some cases, this is the right thing to do; in some, it may accelerate illness and clinical signs. We recommend calling Pet Poison Control as soon as possible to get appropriate advice from a Veterinary Toxicologist. After consulting with the Toxicologist, you will know whether to monitor for signs of something more mild like GI upset or head to your local veterinarian with an emergency treatment plan drafted up by the Toxicologist. If reported early, there are many things that emergency veterinarians can do- induce vomiting, administer medication(s) to absorb the toxin, or even push fluids to help the toxin pass through your pet’s system quicker.ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: 888-426-4435


Symptoms of toxic plant ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures/Ataxia
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Weakness

In some cases, only a single part of a plant is poisonous (e.g., roots, leaves, seeds, sprouts, etc.), but for the purposes of this blog, we will be ruling out the entire plant for your pet’s safety.

Outdoor Plants

Spring has finally sprung- and with the planting season in full force, it’s important for dog and cat owners to be extra vigilant about keeping poisonous plants out of their yards and gardens. Outdoor plants that you should always avoid planting and while on walks are Sago Palm, Tomato Plants, Aloe Vera, Ivy, Amaryllis, Gladiola, American Holly, Daffodil, Milkweed, Castor Bean, Azalea, Tulips, Chrysanthemum, Begonia, and Oleander. If you have any of these already planted in your yard, be especially careful and make sure your pet isn’t able to ingest them.


Consider your substrate choice! If you’ve got a dog that likes to put everything in its mouth, you should limit the following options like pea gravel, wood chips, and rubberized mulch to raised/ contained flower beds and stick with grass or sand in the areas your pet traffics the most.


If your pet eats some grass that had fertilizer applied to it, it rarely leads to serious poisoning. However, more serious signs can be seen when the product is directly ingested (i.e., right out of the bag). If ingested directly from the bag, the results can include tremors and seizures.

Always follow labeled instructions carefully and keep your pets inside while you apply these products to the lawn. To be safe, keep your pets off the lawn until the product is fully absorbed by the soil (e.g., when the product dries if it’s a spray-on product or after it rains if it is a pelleted product). When appropriately applied or diluted, these chemicals typically wash into the soil after rainfall, no longer posing a risk to your pet.

Hiring a Landscaper

The landscaper/ designer you choose should be highly trained regarding plants and mulches that are toxic or poisonous to pets. The best landscapers will plan their design around your dog’s personality and behaviors and will consider your pet’s comfort and routine. Your landscape aesthetic doesn’t have to be limited just because you have pets.

House Plants

If you aren’t really into outdoor gardening, but house plants are your jam, make sure to select pet-safe options for the inside of your home. Our favorite non-toxic house plants are Spider Plants, Haworthia, Ponytail Palms, Orchids, Swedish Ivy, African Violet, Prayer Plants, Burro’s Tail Succulent, Areca Palm, Cast Iron Plants, Bromeliads, and Boston Fern.


Since Mother’s Day approaching and many Graduation ceremonies are coming up, we also wanted to share a list of pet-safe flowers that you can purchase at local florists. Roses, Sunflowers, Gerbera Daisies, Orchids, Snapdragons, Freesias, Limonium, Madagascar Jasmine, Stock, Waxflower, and Lisianthus, are all excellent non-toxic options.

Inspect any bouquets delivered to your home before bringing them inside. If you aren’t sure if a stem of something mixed into the bouquet is toxic, you can download a free plant identification application to your smartphone and upload a picture to get a quick answer. We like the free version of Plant Snap.

Be sure to read our blog posts for an Ultimate List of Toxic Plants for Dogs and Cats.

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At Happy Tails Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Greensboro, NC, our kind and knowledgeable team is available to provide gold standard emergency vet care for you and your pet. We’re available in the late night and early morning hours during the week, and 24/7 on weekends for your convenience.