Plants toxic to dogs

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

  1. 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.white_arum_lily_plants toxic  to dogs
  2. 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.azaleas toxic to dogs
  3. 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.sago or cycad palm toxic to dogs
  4. 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.Castor bean plant is toxic to dogs
  5. 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.Grapes are toxic to dogs
  6. 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.

Motion or car sickness in dogs

What is car sickness in dogs?

Just like people who feel ill or unwell while in on car trips, dogs can also get an upset stomach while travelling in a car, boat or plane. The medical definition of dog motion sickness is an observable discomfort felt by some dogs during transportation, whether by car, bus, train, aeroplane or boat and is quite a common problem in domestic dogs. Motion sickness in dogs usually becomes apparent very early into a car ride. Dogs will typically start by constantly licking their lips to drooling excessively, then whining and refusing to move to eventually vomiting. If the dog is allowed to work themselves up enough, they may even urinate or defecate inside the car. It’s important to get your dog used to car rides from a young age.

Dogs in the back of the ute

What causes car sickness in dogs?

There are a number of different causes of motion sickness in dogs. Essentially, motion sickness is physically caused by irregular or unfamiliar movement that affects the dog’s sense of balance or equilibrium. In young dogs and puppies this condition occurs more frequently because their equilibrium has not yet fully developed. Many dogs who suffer from car sickness will actually “grow out” of it, if the motion sickness is due to the immaturity of their equilibrium. The most common cause of motion sickness in dogs is an emotional or behavioural reason often linked to a bad experience during or after travel in early in their life. One of the ways to test if your dog’s motion sickness is caused by the motion of the car or by an emotional issue related to the car is to place the dog into your car while the car is still stationary. If your dog shows no sign of motion sickness while stationary then it is a pretty good indicator that your dog is affected by the motion. If your dog begins to display signs of being car sick it is likely to be an emotional response to the car.

Preventing and treating motion sickness in dogs

As in the case of many illnesses, prevention is far better than treatment. The simplest form of prevention is to condition the dog to become familiar and comfortable with car travel to alleviate the stress and high emotional toll car travel has on dogs who get motion sickness. There are a number of ways to do this but the simplest is to start by placing the dog in the car while the car is turned off and stationary and feed the dog a treat and removing the dog after just a few seconds. Extend the length of time that the dog remains in the car until they look comfortable with being in the car (you may find that the dog will voluntarily get into the car once they realise that that is the fastest way to the treats!). Then repeat this process while the car is still stationary and turned on. Then repeat the process again with very short trips of a few meters travel and again keep increasing the length of the trips until your dog or puppy no longer becomes sick.

Cool dog enjoying the car ride

Top 5 ways to avoid dog car sickness or motion sickness

  • Don’t feed your dog a large meal immediately before travel as this will make your dog sick during the trip but a very small amount of food about half an hour before travelling can help as it will help absorb gastric juices.
  • Start with short trips to local destinations and then gradually work up to longer trips as your puppy becomes more comfortable with travel.
  • Let your dog or puppy see the outside world going by as you travel if possible as this will help them get their bearings as to where they are to let the dog’s internal sensory balance pathways adjust to the motion. This also provides a distraction to the dog and takes their mind off the actual motion of the car.
  • Make sure that the car is well ventilated and cool, and also make sure that your dog or puppy has enough room to stretch, stand, lie down and turn around.
  • Be sure to provide regular short breaks during the trip to allow your dog to get their “land-legs” back and also to allow them to relieve themselves.

Drugs to help dogs with motion or car sickness

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) will reduce drooling and will also have a sedative effect to calm your dog during travel. Some over-the-counter medications that may help your dog include meclizine and dimenhydrinate as these drugs reduce nausea and vomiting but generally don’t cause sedation. If you are going to use any medication on your dog, be sure to consult your veterinarian first to make sure they are safe for your dog and that the right dosage is administered. A holistic treatment that can be used for car sickness in dogs is ginger. It is available in pill form from health food stores and even in cookie form. Ginger snaps and pills are used to settle a nervous stomach in people when given about half an hour to an hour before travel and also work for dogs, still consult with your vet before giving ginger to your dog in any form to ensure that it is safe for your dog. In a very severe case of travel sickness in dogs a stronger sedative drug such as acepromazine (PromAce) may be prescribed by your veterinarian as a last resort.

After vaccination care of your dog

As described in a previous post about the common viral agents that cause debilitating diseases in dogs, the vaccination of your dog or new puppy is essential to protecting them from these diseases. Most of the time your dog will not need any special care after their vaccination and they will continue with their day as though nothing happened at all. However, a small percentage of dogs will have a mild reaction to the vaccination and seem a little down with a slight loss of appetite for a couple of days afterward and then be back to normal. This is the most common reaction to being vaccinated and is considered a normal response.

If your puppy or dog does display these symptoms, the best way to look after them is as follows:

  • Provide your dog or puppy with a nice, warm and cozy place to lie down and rest (even if they choose to sleep elsewhere on their own.)
  • Make sure that they have water available at all times.
  • Let them have some alone time to rest while still keeping an eye on them and playing with them gently if they want to have some attention.

By following this guide, your puppy or dog will be back to their usual self in no time.

If your puppy does have a reaction that is stronger than this (which does happen much less often) or if they seem down for more than 2 days, then please call your veterinarian who administered the vaccine for advice.

What are the main intestinal worms in dogs and what do they do?


Canine Roundworm

Roundworms (Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina) are found in the intestine of dogs and are a great concern. Roundworms are transmitted from mother to puppy, via feces or soil where roundworms are present, or when dogs eat an infected rodent. When passed these worms look like wet spaghetti noodles. They cause diarrhoea, vomiting and bloody stools. Pups who demonstrate these symptoms in more than a mild manner should be taken to a vet immediately to rule out more serious issues.


Canine Hookworm

Hookworm (Ancylostoma braziliense, Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma tubaeforme, and Uncinaria stenocephala) can be transmitted through feces to mouth contact, from mother to puppy, or when a puppy’s skin comes into contact with infected fecal matter. These hookworms have big appetites and attach to the intestine and feed on the dog’s blood. This infection can be serious because it causes blood loss (anaemia), especially in puppies.


Dog tapeworm

Tapeworms (Taenia pisiformis, Dipylidium canium, Enchinococcus granulosus, and Echinococcus multilocularis) are found in the intestine of dogs and are transmissible to people. They are usually acquired by dogs by ingesting fleas or eating an animal that has a tapeworm infection. Signs and symptoms of a tapeworm infection are passing worm segments in the stool, lethargy, gastrointestinal upset and in severe cases intestinal blockage. Tapeworm eggs are rarely seen in facial examinations.


Dog Whipworm

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) develop when a dog swallows whipworm eggs, passed from an infected dog. Symptoms may include diahorrea, anaemia and also dehydration. It is hard to detect as the numbers of eggs shed are low, and they are shed in waves. They get their common name from their shape as they look like a whip with a thicker posterior end.

Because people can also get infected with these worms by the ingestion of dirt contaminated with the faeces of infected dogs as well as the eggs of the worms themselves, intestinal worm elimination should be the concern on every responsible pet owner. By using a product that treats your dog for these 4 intestinal worms and practicing good hygiene, you will look after the health of both your pets and your family.

Vaccination Schedule

The typical vaccination schedule in Australia is as follows :

6 weeks old

1st Vaccination – Protech C3 (Distemper, Hepatitis & Parvovirus)

12 weeks old

2nd Vaccination – Protech C4/C5  (Protech C3 + Kennel Cough)

16 weeks old

2nd Vaccination – Protech C4/C5  (Protech C3 + Kennel Cough)

Annual Booster

Protech C4/C5  (Protech C3 + Kennel Cough)

Additional vaccinations

Some vets and Breeders will also recommend a vaccination for Coronavirus and Leptospirosis, but always consult your own veterinarian as to what is best for your dog and your location.

When buying or adopting a puppy it is critical that the 6 week old vaccination has been given and you receive a vet certificate that shows that this has been done.

Vaccination for Parvo, Distemper, Hepatitis and Kennel Cough

Thanks to the vast majority of dog owners vaccinating their pets, vets see fewer cases of the major viral diseases in dogs in Australia than a decade ago.

Why do we need to vaccinate if the number of cases is low?

Although the number of cases are low, the viral agents that cause these diseases are still present. If people stop vaccinating their pets there will be a large population of un-protected pets just waiting for one of these highly contagious viruses to enter the neighborhood and cause an epidemic. These diseases are fatal and/or cause lots of suffering e.g. Distemper causes meningitis, Parvovirus causes bloody vomiting and diarrhoea.

Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus is still common especially in lower income areas where people try to save money by not vaccinating. Parvovirus can also be common in many shelters, pounds and rescues as many unvaccinated dogs come through the doors every year. The virus spreads easily and can survive up to one year in contaminated soil – a dog has only to sniff where an infected dog went to the toilet one year ago to pick up the infection. It causes sudden vomiting and diarrhoea of watery blood, severe shock, acute abdominal pain and death. Treatment is prolonged, costly and not always successful. This makes vaccination a must.

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper occurs only occasionally as it has almost been eradicated in Australia due to a very successful vaccination program. It is a highly contagious viral disease and symptoms vary but include fever, sneezing, nasal discharge, vomiting diarrhoea, loss of appetite and depression. Muscle tremors, fits and paralysis occurs in the later stages of the disease.

Canine Hepatitis

This is a very serious viral liver disease. Symptoms include high fever, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea and acute abdominal pain.

Prevention of Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus

These days dogs receive annual booster to protect them from Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus as a bare minimum.

Kennel Cough

There a several “bugs” which cause Kennel Cough of which the worst are Bordetella and Parainfluenza. Dogs coming into contact with large number of other dogs e.g. boarding kennels, show dogs, are at the greatest risk of catching kennel cough and can develop a nasty throat and/or chest infection.

Prevention of Kennel Cough

Both Bordetalla and Parainfluenza are preventable by use of Vaccination. There are still a few other “bugs” which can cause a mild kennel cough.

Benefits of Desexing your dog

Why you should have your dog Desexed

There are many medical and behavioural benefits in having your pet de-sexed:


  • Convenience to owners
  • Reduces the annoying and embarrassing urge of male dogs to “mount” the legs of visitors.
  • Reduced dog registration fees each year will quickly cover and probably exceed the cost of the operation.
  • Reduces aggression toward other animals.
  • Better Health for your Dog
  • Eliminates your dog’s desire to seek out a female and reduces free roaming (car accidents, etc.)
  • Reduces the risk of prostate problems and removes any chance of testicular tumors later in life.
  • Eliminates Sexual Frustration
  • A male dog sensing a female in heat nearby can break down doors and jump fences in his desire to mate.
  • Lets your dog relax and enjoy being part of the family.


  • Convenience to owners
  • Eliminates the oestrus or “heat” period: no bloody discharge
  • Eliminates the scent that attracts annoying male dogs to your home.
  • No need to confine your female when she would otherwise be “in heat”.
  • Eliminates the frantic pacing and crying by the female while she is in heat.
  • Reduced dog registration fees.
  • Better Health for your Dog
  • Eliminates most reproductive cancers.
  • Decreases the possibility of mammary tumors.
  • Eliminates Sexual Frustration
  • Decreases your pets desire to roam in search of a mate.