Color Story: Poisonous Plants For Pets


As we head into late spring, and saunter towards summer, many of us are looking forward to sprucing up our gardens and yards in the warmer months ahead. Can’t wait to plant some new blossoms, blooms, veggies and fruits? Well, if you’re a dog-owner, you need to make sure that none of the plants you’re planting are dangerous to your best friends.

Many people aren’t aware that dangers to your dogs lie as close as your own backyard, or even in your house! Here are some poisonous-to-pets plants, and the symptoms that accompany them, that should be on your “Do Not Plant” list this spring, if you’re a doting dog-owner like me.

Hide these houseplants and guard the garden flowers. Houseplants and garden flowers seem so harmless, but some of them can be downright fatal. All parts of dieffenbachia (more commonly known as dumb cane) and elephant ears can cause intense irritation to your pet’s mouth and tongue, with death occurring if the tongue swells enough to block the way of air passage. The leaves and branches of oleanders can be extremely poisonous to dogs, severely impacting the heart, and causing digestive illness, and can even cause death. While beautiful, the bulbs of hyacinths, daffodils and narcissuses can be anything but, causing nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases, fatality. As for seeds, like rosary pea and castor bean, a few castor bean seeds are close to twice the lethal dose for adult humans, and a single rosary pea seed can cause death. Also avoid foxglove, Christmas rose, bird of paradise, autumn crocus, iris, lantana, morning glory, wildflowers, baneberry, cowslip, flax and bloodroot. And, don’t let your pets kiss under the mistletoe, pounce on the poinsettia, or cower next to the caladium. All are poisonous to dogs. Don’t risk your pet’s health for a beautiful home. There are plenty of pet-friendly options out there!

Eradicate the rhubarb. While a veggie garden is a fountain of freshness, ripe for grilling and entertaining, in the summer months, there’s one veggie you’re going to want to avoid: rhubarb. The leaf blades of rhubarb plants are fatal to your little buddy. Raw or cooked, large amounts can cause convulsions, coma, and sadly, death.

Terrible trees and shrubs. The twigs and leaves of cherries can be fatal for Fido. They actually contain a compound that turns to cyanide when eaten by pets. Look for over-excitability or gasping as symptoms. While the foliage and acorns of oaks are not as instantly deadly, they can be deadly, when consumed in a large quantity, over time. Just be mindful of symptoms that might appear over the course of days or weeks, such as evidence of kidney damage or discomfort. Other trees and shrubs that are fatal include elderberry, black locust, box shrub, English ivy, buckeye, holly and wisteria.

Warning about these in wooded and wet areas. In heavily wooded areas, keep your pups away from moonseed, mayapple, and jack-in-the pulpit. They all have toxic components, and can be fatal. In wet areas, keep clear of buttercups, nightshade, jimson weed, water hemlock and poison hemlock. I mean, with “poison” in the name, is it ever good?


If you already have some of these plants in your home, garden or yard, just be sure to supervise your pets around them, at all times. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of poisoning mentioned above, head to your veterinarian’s office or emergency care facility as soon as possible. While many of these are fatal, with a little speed, your doctor may be able to save the day.