In the eyes of your beloved pets, your lush garden may seem like the perfect shady place to meander, or take an afternoon nap. While each plant may have been carefully selected for its color, shape and height, many of us are less aware about the toxicity levels of common plants and flowers. You may already know that ornamental plants look harmless and aesthetically pleasing, yet can be quite dangerous to pets and humans if ingested.
But how about the bulbs just planted in the ground? Or your favorite summer time blossoms on the porch?
While we want you to plant your heart’s desire in your garden, it’s important to be aware of which plants can pose a potential threat to your furry pals. With that said, we’re eager to share our list of harmful plants so that your pets stay safe each gardening season. Many gardeners with pets still enjoy growing these flowers, and recommend keeping a careful eye on pets when outside. Other gardeners advise to take your pet on a walk rather than allow them to freely roam the garden. You’ll get more exercise, and will no longer have to worry about your pets sniffing around the Larkspurs. If you do suspect poisoning from a toxic plant, contact your vet immediately. (Also, see our post on poisonous holiday plants here)
*Chrysanthemum– These brightly colored “mums” are commonly seen in backyard gardens all over the nation. But be aware that touching these flowers can cause skin irritations in pets and humans, and ingesting any part of the plant can cause severe stomach upset, like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
*Foxglove – These pretty purple, pink and white bell shaped flowers grow in towers, and look more like a fox “tail” rather than a fox “glove.” Many gardeners love the height these bring to the garden, yet they can be quite toxic for family pets. The entire plant is poisonous, and can cause severe digestive tract problems like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
*Hydrangeas – These plants are most appreciated for their showy blue, pink, and white flower clusters. While these look especially lovely in the summer time, do keep in mind that the entire plant is toxic. If ingested, it can cause dyspnea, fainting, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and can cause death.
*Larkspur– Many gardeners love these bright blue and purple buttercup flowers for their low maintenance and high impact color. Unfortunately, if eaten, these plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea, and a slowed heart beat. If not treated quickly, these plants can lead to death in both animals and humans.
*Lily Of The Valley – these white bell shaped flowers are sweet smelling and gorgeous. But the entire plant can be quite dangerous for pets and humans. Even a few bites can cause heart problems, headache, hot flashes, hallucinations, and skin irritations. In some cases, death has been reported.
*Oleander – These plants are prized for their dainty white flowers that exude a wonderful fragrance. Unfortunately in 2011, a giraffe at Tucson Zoo was accidently fed the leaves from an oleander, and died several days later. This is a cautionary tale for gardeners that aim to grow these plants in their garden. While they are pretty to look at, eating any part of the plant can cause severe affects on the digestive system, to life threatening central nervous system issues that lead to death.
Peonies: The gorgeous plant’s claims to fame are the red, pink and white blossoms and their longevity. They are one of the few perennial plants that can live up to fifty to seventy five years old, and with little maintenance. Watch your pets around these flowers, as they can lead to digestive problems and rapid heartbeat if swallowed.
*Rhododendron – Many grow these bright red, white, purple and pink flowers for additional shade in their garden. But if any of this plant is ingested, it can lead to serious side effects from vomiting, to low blood pressure, and even death.
If your dog loves to dig up holes and bury items in the backyard, it’s important to know that a variety of bulbs pose a threat to dogs if ingested. Use caution when bulbs are planted, or if you store varieties in an area pets can wonder. The most common threats are Amarylis, Autumn Crocus, Daffodil, Elephant Ear, Hyacinth, Iris, and Tulips. Signs of poisoning include oral or skin irritation, upset stomach, weakness, rapid breathing, increased thirst, seizures and disorientation.
Ferns of all types are a potential threat to your pet if chewed or swallowed. Studies show that Asparagus Ferns, Australian Nut, Emerald Feather, Lace Fern, and Plumosa Fern can be the most dangerous. Symptoms can include stomach upset, weakness and fatigue.
Further reading: See this list for a full list of dangerous plants for dogs.