Dogs and Plants


If you have pets, and a green thumb, take note! Many common varieties of house and garden plants may be dangerous to your pet's health. Caution and consideration are the rules of the day for gardeners who endeavor to make their homes safe havens for their pets. Your first step should be to learn the names of all of your plants.

Caught in the Act!

Should you find your dog happily destroying your favorite plant, remove him from the disaster scene. Check to see that pieces of plant matter have not become lodged in its teeth. Remove any leaves, stems, flowers etc. from his mouth. If you don't know whether the plant is poisonous or not, phone your local poison control hot line. Most cities have a 24-hour operator and humans, cats, and dogs will respond to toxicity in plants in a similar fashion.

What to Watch For

If the dog is drooling excessively, shaking his head, gasping, swallowing repeatedly, or acting depressed, he may be exhibiting symptoms of plant poisoning.

Some plants have to be chewed and swallowed to make the pet sick, others, such as the dieffenbachia, simply have to come in contact with your pet's mouth, tongue or throat to cause a reaction. Treatment for caustic burns in the mouth depends on whether the plant is acidic or not. Again, identify the plant and talk to your poison control center or your veterinarian.

Problem Plants

Dieffenbachia plants are commonly known as "dumb cane. It has been given this unusual name because, when chewed, it causes swelling and irritation to the vocal cords, resulting in loss of voice or difficulty vocalizing.

Should your pet come into contact with a suspicious plant, and it is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, gather samples of the offending plant material, and take both your pet and the samples to the nearest veterinary clinic.

The following list includes some of the more common garden varieties of plants that can prove dangerous. The list is in alphabetical order, not order of importance. Some garden enthusiasts may challenge the need for a specific plant to be on this list. Rather than argue, we feel it is better to be safe than sorry.

Potentially Dangerous Common House & Garden Plants:
(Please note that the list includes some of the more popular plants and is not 100% complete.)

Did You Know?

Poison Oak and Ivy are harmful to humans, but they do not seem to affect livestock or pets. However, tobacco and marijuana are extremely toxic.

Catnip, a perennial herb from the mint family, stimulates play in both wild and domesticated cats. Some people believe that poinsettia plants are toxic, yet flower growers say that they are not. In any case, it is better to be safe that sorry. Enjoy the splendor of your Christmas poinsettia by keeping it out-of-reach of curious puppies and kittens.

Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin