Which plants are toxic to dogs?
There are a number of common plants that can be quite toxic to dogs and their toxicity can range from an upset tummy to being lethal. Many of the plants on the list below are common garden plants and some are even house plants. This is not an extensive list by any means but it is quick guide to some of the more common plants that dogs will actually eat.
Here are what we think are the 5 most common plants in and around the home that are toxic to dogs
- Lilies – While most cat owners know that lilies are a serious danger to their cats, there are many varieties are highly toxic to dogs and many of these varieties are the most common types found in floral bouquets. These are No. 1 on this list as they are responsible for about 45% of the calls to the ASPCA (USA) poison hotline concerning the ingestion of these flowers by dogs. Lilies are common in floral displays during Spring time and are one of the most common garden flowers due to their brilliant display of flowers that anyone can grow. Some of these poisonous varieties include the peace lily, calla lily, amaryllis, lily of the valley and Arum Lily. The common houseplant, giant Dracaena (also known as palm lily) is also part of the lily family and also dangerous to dogs. Ingestion of even a small amount of lilies can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, anorexia and tremors and may result in long term kidney damage or even death.
- Rhododendrons (Azaleas) – these plants are found in many different varieties from small bushes or shrubs often just called Azaleas to the much taller bushes called Rhododendrons that are prized for their brilliant floral displays and ability to block views. They are common all over the world and is commonly used as an ornamental flowering shrubs in Australian landscaping. Ingestion of just a few leaves can cause vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and leg paralysis. In some cases, eating enough azalea leaves can lead to coma or death in dogs.
- Sago palms – These ornamental plants are very popular all over Australia in landscaping or as houseplants, and look like tiny versions of Date palms. All parts of the Sago palm are poisonous, but the seeds are the most toxic. The seeds of this plant contain a toxin called cycasin that can be fatal, even if the dog only eats a single seed and many dogs have died as a result of seeds falling into their food bowl. Ingestion can result in vomiting, diarrhoea depression, seizure and liver failure so ingestion of any amount of this plant requires immediate emergency treatment.
- Castor bean plant – This is an ornamental tropical plant but it is also used as a crop for castor oil. Castor beans (seeds), leaves and steam of the plant contain a toxic protein called ricin that was used in the poison attack on a Japanese subway. Ingestion of this plant by dogs can result in pain, vomiting diarrhoea excessive thirst, weakness and appetite loss. At the very least a dog can burn it’s mouth and throat just by eating a tiny amount of the stems and leaves but ingestion of an ounce of seeds is often lethal.
- Grapes – The toxicity of grapes to dogs was held as an urban legend, but this is one legend that is based in truth but the effect they have on dogs seems to vary widely as sometimes a small serving can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in some dogs while others seem to be fine after eating large amounts. Scientists aren’t sure what exactly causes grapes to be toxic to dogs and there are theories placing pesticides or a fungal toxin as the culprit. It’s best to err on the side of caution on this one and avoid feeding your dog or especially a puppy any grapes, sultanas or raisins.
- Mushrooms – While not actually plants, mushrooms are a common source of poisoning to dogs as most are not capable of discerning the difference between the edible and the toxic species. Mushroom species that your dog has access to will vary widely depending on your location and where your dog goes for walks but just like in people, mushroom poisons may result in anything from a sore tummy to death so are best to keep away from your dog as much as possible.