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Plants That Are Toxic To Dogs: 19 Vet-Verified Ones to Avoid

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

Papillon sitting in the windowsill next to a plant

Plants That Are Toxic To Dogs: 19 Vet-Verified Ones to Avoid

VET APPROVED

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There are many science-backed reasons to have gardens and indoor houseplants, but if you share your home with a dog, growing plants comes with some risks. Dogs are notorious for getting their curious little noses into everything, and while some of the stuff your pup comes across is just gross, other items can be dangerous or even deadly. There are many poisonous plants and flowers that could cause serious harm to your pup if you’re not careful.

Read on to learn about 19 of the most common toxic plants you should think twice about growing if you have dogs.

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How Are Toxic Plants Classified?

There are countless toxic components present in plants, some more serious than others. We go into more detail about each of the poisonous substances in the plants below. Still, it is important to educate yourself on these components, especially if you plan on having a garden in your yard or houseplants in your home.

Some of the most common toxic components in plants include:

  • Saponins
  • Insoluble calcium oxalates
  • Cardiac glycosides

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The 19 Toxic Plants for Dogs

1. Aloe Vera

aloe, aloe vera, life
Photo by Ingoldfranziska, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Aloe vera
Family: Liliaceae
Toxic Components: Anthraquinone glycosides

Aloe is a hardy and easy-to-care-for plant, making it extremely popular amongst green and brown thumbs alike. However, it contains anthraquinone glycosides, a purgative that encourages bowel movements. When a dog eats aloe, the glycosides are metabolized by the intestinal bacteria, increasing mucus production and water in the colon. This can result in gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. You may also notice signs such as anorexia, urine color changes, and depression.


2. Autumn Crocus

autumn crocus flowers
Image Credit: Mariola Anna S, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Colchicum autumnale
Family: Liliaceae
Toxic Components: Colchicine

These beautiful fall-blooming flowers contain a toxic alkaloid known as colchicine. All parts of the flower are highly poisonous. Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal signs such as drooling, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, and bloody diarrhea. It can also cause respiratory failure, seizures, and even death. Signs can sometimes occur immediately after ingestion or may be delayed for several days.


3. Tulips

boquet of tulips
Image Credit: Sergey Bezgodov, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Tulipa
Family: Liliaceae
Toxic Components: Tulipalin A and B

Tulips may be a gorgeous flower that signifies the coming of spring, but they’re highly toxic to dogs if ingested. The highest concentration of the toxin is present in the bulb, though any of the plant is considered harmful. Ingestion can irritate the tissues in the mouth and esophagus and cause signs like drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dogs may experience more severe side effects if they’ve eaten a large amount, including heart rate increase, difficulty breathing, and changes in respiration.


4. Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos in a white vase on a table
Photo by Emily Abreu, Unsplash
Scientific Name: Epipremnum aureum
Family: Araceae
Toxic Components: Insoluble calcium oxalates

Known as devil’s ivy, golden pothos contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals like many other plants belonging to the Araceae family. Dogs that chew or bite into the plant may release the crystals, resulting in tissue penetration, intense burning, and mouth irritation. In rare cases, upper airway swelling may occur, causing difficulty breathing.


5. Philodendrons

Philodendrons leaf in clear glass vase
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler, Unsplash
Scientific Name: Philodendron
Family: Araceae
Toxic Components: Insoluble calcium oxalates

Many philodendron species exist, and they all contain the insoluble calcium oxalates seen in the Araceae family. Chewing or biting the plant can release crystals that will cause signs such as oral pain, vomiting, decreased appetite, and drooling.


6. Milkweed

Milkweed white and pink flower in tilt shift lens
Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton, Unpslash
Scientific Name: Asclepias
Family: Asclepiadaceae
Toxic Components: Cardiotoxins and neurotoxins

Milkweed is a pretty plant genus that acts as a beacon for butterflies, but it is highly toxic for dogs. Depending on the species, the plant can contain cardiotoxins, which can affect your dog’s heart, or neurotoxins, which can impact nerve system and organ function. Milkweed ingestion can cause vomiting, depression, anorexia, and diarrhea. If prompt treatment is not sought, the signs may progress into difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, respiratory paralysis, or even death.


7. Sago Palm

sago palm, leaves, plant
Photo by Olena758, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Cycas revoluta, Cycad spp., Zamia spp., Macrozamia spp.
Family: Cycadaceae
Toxic Components: Cycasin

Though sago palms are a tree typically found in tropical environments, they can also be used as ornamental houseplants. These plants contain a toxic agent known as cycasin and are highly toxic for dogs. While the bark and leaves can cause harm, the seeds or ‘nuts’ contain the most toxins. If ingested, gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea) may occur within 15 minutes. Within four hours of ingestion, central nervous system signs (seizures, tremors) may occur. Liver failure can be seen a few days afterward. Even with prompt and aggressive treatment, the survival rate is just 50%.


8. Foxglove

Foxglove purple petaled flowers
Photo by Jon Butterworth, Unsplash
Scientific Name: Digitalis purpurea
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Toxic Components: Cardiac glycosides

Though foxgloves may be a honeybee’s best friend, they’re highly toxic for dogs and people. They contain naturally occurring poisons that can affect your pup’s heart as they interfere with the delicate electrolyte balance in the heart muscle. All parts of the plant, even the water in the vase they’re contained in, are considered toxic. Clinical signs include abnormal heart rate, nausea, drooling, dilated pupils, and seizures.


9. Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley flowers
Image Credit: Kovalchuk Oleksandr, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Convallaria majalis
Family: Asparagaceae
Toxic Components: Cardiac glycosides

Lily of the Valley contains compounds similar to the foxglove and may result in signs identical to those seen in cases of foxglove ingestion. Dogs that eat this plant may experience vomiting, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, coma, or seizures. Even a small exposure to any part of the plant can cause heart issues in dogs.


10. Jerusalem Cherry

Jerusalem Cherry
Photo by C VanHeest, Unsplash
Scientific Name: Solanum pseudocapsicum
Family: Solanaceae
Toxic Components: Solanine

The Jerusalem cherry is a pretty fruit-bearing plant, but all parts of it contain the toxic component solanine. It can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, such as vomiting and drooling, and even ulceration of the gastrointestinal system. Ingestion may also produce central nervous system signs like seizures or depression.


11. Snake Plant

Snake Plants
Image Credit: Olena758, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Family: Agavaceae
Toxic Components: Saponins

Snake plants are extremely popular household and office plants thanks to their hardiness and will to survive. These striking plants, however, can cause gastrointestinal signs like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested.


12. Morning Glory

Morning Glory Violet close up
Photo by Seiya Maeda, Unsplash
Scientific Name: Ipomoea
Family: Convolvulaceae
Toxic Components: Lysergic alkaloids

Morning glories are beautiful climbing vines, and while not all species are toxic for dogs, some can cause severe signs when the seeds are eaten in excess. The seeds in some species of morning glory contain lysergic alkaloids, which can cause signs such as incoordination and agitation. Eating the plant parts can also lead to vomiting and diarrhea.


13. Marijuana

woman holding marijuana leaves
Image Credit: Erin_Hinterland, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Cannabis sativa
Family: Cannabaceae
Toxic Components: Delta-9-THC

Though marijuana may be legal to buy and grow in some places, it can cause adverse reactions in dogs who eat it. In small quantities, the plant can cause sensitivity, agitation, urinary incontinence, trembling, incoordination, and lethargy, while larger doses may result in more serious signs such as respiratory depression and potentially coma. How your dog ingests marijuana can also impact the signs they experience. For example, if they eat your chocolate edibles, they not only be exposed to toxins from marijuana but chocolate as well.


14. Kalanchoe

Orange kalanchoe on the windowsill
Image Credit: Alexey Medvednikov, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Kalanchoe
Family: Crassulaceae
Toxic Components: Cardiac glycosides

The kalanchoe is a beautiful houseplant with hundreds of tiny, colorful flowers, but they contain cardiac glycosides known as bufadienolides. Thankfully, they are classified as mildly toxic and ingestion usually only results in mild gastrointestinal signs. An abnormal heart rhythm, weakness, and collapse have been noted with larger amounts ingested, in rarer cases.


15. Poison Hemlock

White Poison Hemlock
Photo by 165106, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Conium maculatum
Family: Umbelliferae
Toxic Components: Various alkaloids

With a name like poison hemlock, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this weed is dangerous for pets. This plant looks almost identical to the Queen Anne’s lace plant, but it contains numerous alkaloids that can be toxic to dogs if eaten in large quantities. Signs of ingestion include agitation, tremors, drooling, diarrhea, paralysis, and potentially even death.


16. Castor Bean Plant

Red Castor Bean Plant
Photo by zimt2003, Unsplash
Scientific Name: Ricinus communis
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Toxic Components: Ricin

The castor bean plant is a dangerous ornamental plant that can result in severe poisoning. Ricin, the toxic component, inhibits protein synthesis and can cause inappetence, abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, trembling, and collapse when ingested, usually within 12-48 hours. This plant has an extremely narrow margin of safety, with only a small amount needing to be eaten to cause severe poisoning or even death.


17. Azalea/Rhododendron

Azalea flower plant
Image Credit: PatGallery, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Rhododendronspp
Family: Ericaceae
Toxic Components: Grayanotoxin

There are over 1,000 species of azaleas/rhododendrons. These common flowering shrubs contain grayanotoxin, which is known to disrupt the sodium channels, impacting the skeletal and cardiac muscle. Though all parts of the plant contain the toxic compound, the reaction a dog gets from eating it will depend on how much they’ve eaten. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, ingesting as little as 0.2% of the animal’s body weight can result in poisoning. Clinical signs include drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, tremors, seizures, and cardiac signs like abnormal heart rate, weakness, and hypotension.


18. Oleander

pink oleander flowers
Image Credit: j.chizhe, Shutterstock
Scientific Name: Nerium oleander
Family: Apocynaceae
Toxic Components: Cardiac glycosides

Oleanders are outdoor shrubs found in warm climates. All parts of the plant are poisonous to dogs, thanks to their naturally occurring components that affect the heart. Like with Foxglove and Milkweed, the poisons in Oleanders interfere with the heart muscle’s electrolyte balance. Signs of ingestion include abnormal heart rhythm, nausea, drooling, tremors, and seizures.


19. Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia (Dumb canes) in the pot white background
Photo by PENEBAR, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Dieffenbachia spp.
Family: Araceae
Toxic Components: Insoluble calcium oxalates, proteolytic enzyme

Dieffenbachia contains insoluble calcium oxalates like many other plants in the Araceae family. When dogs chew or bite the plant, the crystals are released, causing penetration of the tissues and mouth irritation. In rare cases, upper airway swelling may occur, making it difficult to breathe.

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Final Thoughts

If you plan on keeping a backyard garden or growing houseplants while simultaneously raising dogs, you need to educate yourself on the most dangerous plants out there. The 19 above is just a shortlist of the many toxic plants. Be sure to check out the ASPCA or Pet Poison Helpline before buying greenery for your yard or home to ensure you’re choosing a safe, pet-friendly plant.


Featured Image Credit: Sergey Lavrentev, Shutterstock

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