Complete Guide to Poisonous Plants for Dogs
By: Linda Rodgers | August 18, 2021
Dogs are notorious for getting their snouts into things they shouldn’t. Besides their dog food, they’ll happily snuffle and scarf up anything they come across, from litter on the sidewalk to the newly planted flower bulbs in your garden. And while some of the stuff your pooch comes across is just gross, other items can be downright dangerous. In fact, there are tons of poisonous plants for dogs that can harm your pet.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reported that in 2017, 5 percent of all calls were related to pets ingesting plants toxic to them, making it ninth on their list of the top 10 pet toxins.
We spoke with a director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and two other veterinarians to identify the most common poisonous plants for dogs
While some plants can just give your pup diarrhea, there are others that are extremely poisonous and can cause serious problems, like liver damage. On top of that, many of the more dangerous poisonous plants for dogs are also very common plants to have in your home, like sago palm plants.
“It’s popular for people in my area to have sago palms around their swimming pools since they look like mini palm trees and are easier to keep than actual palm trees,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, who practices in a small animal hospital in East Texas.
One dog she treated spent two weeks in the animal hospital on IV fluids, being fed and hydrated via syringes. And because sago palms damage the liver, “it took him about six to eight months for his liver values to return to normal,” she adds.
The 10 Most Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs
1. Sago Palm With its stiff fronds, the sago palm looks like a tiny palm tree and can live indoor or outdoor.
“Sago palms are toxic to all pets and the symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver failure, and potentially death,” says Laura Stern, DVM, DABVT, director of client programs for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. And while the leaves and bark will harm your pup, “the seeds or ‘nuts’ contain the largest amount of toxins,” she claims.
2. Tulips Tulips are spring-blooming flowers that many people love to have in their home—indoors and outdoors. Dog parents should skip these brightly-colored flowers, though.
If your dog chews on the lance-shaped leaves, he could get an upset stomach. However, the real danger lies when your dog digs up and eats the newly-planted bulbs, which have the most toxins. “Those can cause intense stomach upset, depression, and loss of appetite,” Dr. Stern says.
3. Lily of the Valley There are a ton of reasons why lilies of the valley are such popular garden plants—they are sweet-smelling, they have adorable little white bell-shaped flowers, and they can thrive in shady places. But one thing the flowering plant’s beauty masks is how poisonous it is to dogs.
“Even a small exposure to any part of the plant can cause heart problems for dogs—changes in heart rate and rhythm,” Dr. Stern warns. Eating a few leaves or bulbs can also make your pup throw up, and cause low blood pressure, disorientation, seizures or a coma.
4. Oleander Oleander is a common landscaping plant, especially on the West Coast. This bushy shrub can grow as high as 12 feet, and it’s prized for its cluster of flowers in shades of yellow, white, pink and red.
Every inch of this plant is poisonous to dogs—from the flower petals to the pointy, long leaves.
“Like lily of the valley, oleander also contains cardiac glycosides,” Dr. Stern explains. “We can see changes in heart rate and heart rhythm as well.” You may also see other symptoms, like diarrhea, stomach pain, and drooling, and it can be fatal.
5. Philodendrons Philodendrons have heart-shaped leaves and long vines, and are a very popular houseplant. Beware, though: These plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate your dog’s mouth and lips.
If he’s swallowed some leaves, your pet will probably be pawing at his mouth or even drooling and retching, says Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM, a veterinarian at Animal Medical Center in New York City.
6. Rhododendron (also known as Azaleas) You see these flowering shrubs in many back and front yards across the country. All parts of these flowering beauties contain grayantoxin, and the reaction your pup gets depends on how much they’ve eaten. “The most common sign with the ingestion of azaleas is stomach upset,” Dr. Stern says. It’s very rare for dogs to eat a lot of azaleas, but when they do, they can get very weak, have tremors, and suffer from low blood pressure as well as irregular heart rate and rhythm, she says.
7. Dieffenbachia (also known as Dumb cane) These mostly indoor plants have lush green leaves with white spots or stripes, and if your dog nibbles on the leaves, they’re likely to feel as if their mouth, tongue and lips are burning, thanks to the calcium oxalate crystals (the same ones found in philodendrons). Your dog may also drool a lot and vomit, or even have a hard time breathing, Dr. Hohenhaus says.
8. Japanese Yews (also known as Buddhist pine or Southern yew) These plants make excellent hedges, since they are like small evergreen trees or shrubs with needle-like leaves and small red berries. You can find them throughout the United States. While the berries aren’t toxic to dogs, the leaves, seeds and bark are. “They can cause vomiting, lethargy, a wobbly gait, and most seriously, heart and blood pressure changes, which can be life threatening,” Dr. Stern says. Other early warning signs your dog may display include seizures and muscle tremors.
9. Cyclamen With intensely colored blooms (think every shade of pink) that last a long time, cyclamen is a popular houseplant, especially in the winter. If your pup eats any part of the plant, they’re likely to drool, vomit and have diarrhea, Dr. Hohenaus says. If they dig up the plant and gobble up the roots (or tubers as they’re known), it can affect their heart rate and rhythms, and may even cause death.
10. Autumn Crocus When these plants bloom in the fall, their delicate flowers rise out of the ground without leaves—one reason why they’re also known as naked ladies. The leaves and bulbs appear in the spring, long after the flowers have died. If your dog eats even a small bit of the flowers, leaves or bulbs, they may begin to vomit and have diarrhea. The toxins in the Autumn Crocus, known as colchicine, can have long-lasting effects too, such as suppressing bone marrow and causing liver failure, Dr. Stern says.
Complete List of Extremely Poisonous Plants for Dogs
Any plant can upset your dog’s stomach, but the toxic ones can produce severe symptoms, like intense vomiting or organ damage, depending on the plant and how much your pup ingests. Here are all the plants known to produce the more serious side effects (you can also find a list with photos on the ASPCA’s website):
Adam-and-Eve (also known as Arum, Lord-and-Ladies, Wake Robin, Starch Root, Bobbins, Cuckoo Plant)
African Wonder Tree
Amaryllis (also known as Belladonna lily, Saint Joseph lily, Cape Belladonna, Naked Lady, Barbados lily)
Ambrosia Mexicana (also known as Jerusalem Oak, Feather Geranium)
American Mandrake (also known as Mayapple, Indian Apple Root, Umbrella Leaf, Wild Lemon, Hog Apple, Duck's Foot, and Raccoonberry)
American Yew (also known as Canada Yew, Canadian Yew)
Apple (including crabapples; stem, leaves and seeds contain cyanide, but the fruit is okay for dogs)
Apricot (stems, leaves, and pit contain cyanide)
Arrow-Head Vine (also known as Nephthytis, Green Gold Naphthysis, African Evergreen, Trileaf Wonder)
Australian Ivy Palm (also known as Schefflera, Umbrella Tree, Octopus Tree, Starleaf)
Autumn Crocus (also known as Naked Ladies)
Baby Doll Ti Plant (also known as Ti-Plant, Good-Luck Plant, Hawaiian TI Plant)
Barbados Pride (also known as Peacock Flower, Dwarf Poinciana)
Barbados Pride 2 (also known as Bird of Paradise, Poinciana, Brazilwood)
Bird of Paradise Flower (also known as Crane Flower, Bird's Tongue Flower)
Bishop’s Weed (also known as False Queen Anne’s Lace, Greater Ammi)
Bitter Root (also known as Dogbane Hemp, Indian Hemp)
Bittersweet (also known as American Bittersweet, Waxwork, Shrubby Bittersweet, False Bittersweet, Climbing Bittersweet)
Black Calla (also known as Solomon’s Lily, Wild Calla, Wild Arum)
Black Laurel (also known as Dog Hobble, Dog Laurel, Fetter Bush, Sierra Laurel)
Bog Laurel (also known as Pale Laurel)
Borage (also known as Starflower)
Branching Ivy (also known as English Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, California Ivy)
Brunfelsia (also known as Lady-of-the-Night, Kiss-Me-Quick, Franciscan Rain Tree)
Burning Bush (also known as Spindle Tree)
Buttercup (also known as Figwort)
Calla Lily (also known as Trumpet Lily, Arum Lily, Pig Lily, White Arum, Florist's Calla, Garden Calla)
Cardboard Palm (also known as Cardboard Cycad)
Castor Bean Plant
Chandelier Plant (also known as Devils Backbone)
Cherry (stem, leaves, and pit)
Chinaberry Tree (also known as Bead tree, China Ball Tree, Paradise Tree, Persian Lilac, White Cedar, Japanese Bead Tree, Texas Umbrella Tree, Pride-of-India)
Chinese Jade (also known as Silver Jade Plant, Silver Dollar)
Chrysanthemum (also known as Mums)
Clematis (also known as Virgin’s Bower)
Coleus (also known as Bread-and-Butter Plant, Spanish Thyme, East Indian Thyme)
Corn Plant (also known as Dragon Tree)
Cow Parsnip (also known as Giant Hogweed)
Daffodil (especially the bulbs)
Desert Rose (also known as Desert Azalea, Mock Azalea)
Deadly Nightshade (also known as Climbing Nightshade, Poisonous Nightshade, Woody Nightshade, and Blue Nightshade)
Dieffenbachia (also known as Dumb Cane)
Elephant Ears (also known as Taro, Malanga, and Caladium)
Emerald Fern (also known as Emerald Feather, Asparagus Fern)
Epazote (also known as Mexican Tea)
Fetterbush (also known as Maleberry, Staggerberry)
Fleabane (also known as Horseweed, Showy Daisy)
Florida Beauty (also known as Gold Dust Dracaena, Spotted Dracaena)
Gardenia (also known as Cape Jasmine)
Giant Dracaena (also known as Palm Lily, Grass Palm)
Glory lily (also known as Gloriosa Lily, Climbing Lily, Superb Lily)
Good Luck Plant (also known as Golden Birds Nest, Snake Plant)
Grapefruit (skin and plant parts; fruit isn’t toxic)
Heavenly Bamboo (also known as Sacred Bamboo)
Hellebore (also known as Christmas Rose, Easter Rose)
Holly (also known as American Holly, English Holly, European Holly, Oregon Holly, Inkberry, Winterberry)
Horse Chestnut (also known as Buckeye)
Indian Rubber Plant (also known as Fig, Weeping Fig)
Iris (also known as Flag, Snake Lily, Water Flag)
Iron Cross Begonia
Jade Plant (also known as Baby Jade, Dwarf Rubber Plant, Chinese Rubber Plant, Japanese Rubber Plant)
Japanese Yew (also known as Buddhist pine or Southern yew)
Jerusalem Cherry (also known as Winter Cherry)
Lambkill (also known as Sheep Laurel)
Laurel (also known as Mountain Laurel, Bay Laurel)
Lemon (skin and plant parts; fruit is non-toxic)
Lily of the Valley
Lily-of-the-Valley Bush (also known as Andromeda Japonica)
Lime (skin and plant parts; fruit is edible)
Lobelia (also known as Cardinal Flower, Indian Pink)
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Marijuana (also known as Indian Hemp, Hashish)
Metallic Leaf Begonia
Mole Bean Plant
Narcissus (also known as Paper White)
Nightshade (also known as Black Nightshade)
Orange (skin and plant parts; fruit isn’t toxic)
Painter’s Pallet (also known as Flamingo Lily, Flamingo Flower, Pigtail Plant, and Oilcloth Flower)
Peach (stem, leaves and pit)
Pencil Cactus (also known as Sticks of Fire)
Periwinkle (also known as Running Myrtle)
Plum (stem, leaves and pit)
Poison Hemlock (also known as Deadly Hemlock, Winter Fern, California Fern, Nebraska Fern)
Pothos (also known as Golden Pothos, Taro Vine, Devil’s ivy)
Prayer Bean (also known as Rosary Bean, Buddhist Rosary Bean, Indian Bean, Indian Licorice)
Prickly Ash (also known as Angelica Tree, Prickly Elder, Hercules’ Club, Devil’s Walking Stick)
Privet (also known as Wax-Leaf)
Purslane (also known as Moss Rose, Rock Moss)
Ragwort (also known as Golden Ragwort)
Ranger’s Button (also known as Swamp White Heads)
Red Sage (also known as Shrub Verbena, Lantana, Yellow Sage)
Skunk Weed (also known as Skunk Cabbage, Swamp Cabbage, Polecat Weed)
John’s Wort (also known as Klamath Weed)
Sweet Pea (also known as Everlasting Pea)
Sweet William (also known as Pinks)
Tahitian Bridal Veil
Tobacco (also known as Tree Tobacco, Mustard Tree, Nicotiania)
Yarrow (also known as Milfoil)
Pet-Proofing Moves and Treatment
Our experts say that the best thing to do as far as prevention goes is to not have these plants at all. But sometimes, that’s just not possible—say, you bought a house from someone who had a yen for azaleas. In that case, you can put a barrier up or use a plant stand to prevent your pooch from getting to these plants, says Dr. Ochoa. When adding greenery to your home, just be sure to get plants that are pet-friendly, like spider plants, violets, or orchids, suggest Dr. Hohenaus.
Find more dog-friendly plants here.
If you aren’t sure what your dog ate, you can call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. They’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They can tell you how toxic the plant is and if you need to seek veterinary care. However, Dr. Hohenhaus urges you to head to the ER if you think your pet has eaten a poisonous plant instead of trying to treat your pet at home.