Beware Of These Poisonous Plants
You may be surprised at the number of very common plants—both indoor and out—that are toxic to pets. Check out our list of landscaping stalwarts (and few houseplants, too) that can make your furry friends seriously ill, or even worse, and then think about making a few quick changes to your garden.
One of the most ubiquitous—and beautiful—landscaping plants is also one of the most poisonous. The entire azalea plant is toxic to both dogs and cats, but it will also make horses, goats, and sheep sick. Eating just a few leaves could cause vomiting and diarrhea, and the long-term effects could be serious. So, if you have pets, pass on azaleas. If you already have them in your yard, you can opt to either remove the dangerous plant or keep an eye on your animals and take them immediately to the vet if you suspect they’ve chewed on one.
Related: 15 Plants to Never Grow in Your Yard
While they are not toxic to dogs, many types of lilies, including the daylily, are extremely toxic to cats. Small portions of any part of the plant, if ingested by a cat, can cause kidney failure. So, if your feline roams outside, you might want to reconsider planting lilies in your yard, and protect indoor cats by keeping tabletop floral arrangements lily-free.
Castor-oil plant is a popular landscaping pick in public garden beds, loved for its colorful foliage, arresting seedpods, and the impressive height of its stems—all of which are toxic. Enjoy this plant when you see it in the city park, and avoid planting it in your own garden.
Related: 10 Ways Your Backyard Can Hurt You
You may have already guessed that the berries of the very common English ivy are toxic to pets. But so is the rest of this vining plant—especially the leaves. Don’t be seduced by the charm of an ivy-covered brick wall. If you have ivy, get rid of it: It’s bad for the mortar and the dog.
Yew's many good qualities have made it an extremely popular evergreen landscaping shrub. It’s hardy and easy to grow, and it's attractive when flush with red berries. But the bark, leaves, and seeds of yew will affect the central nervous system of both dogs and cats if ingested. Horses are even more susceptible to poisoning if they munch on the shrub. Rather than risk the danger, it's probably best to eliminate yew from your property.
In warm climates, elephant ear can be successfully grown in the garden, but throughout the rest of the country it is more commonly known as a popular houseplant. Beautiful though it is, the plant can cause swelling of the mouth, vomiting, and diarrhea in both animals and humans—reason enough for a cautious homeowner to avoid it.
The seeds of some species of morning glory contain lysergic acid, which is essentially a natural form of LSD. It can cause hallucinations, disorientation, tremors, and gastrointestinal problems in both dogs and cats. Avoid planting this vining plant if you own pets, and if it’s something that’s already on your property, make sure that those seed-containing flowers don’t get ingested.
Autumn crocus looks like the true crocus that blooms in spring, but belongs to the Colchicaceae plant family instead of the Iridaceae family. It contains colchicine, which is highly toxic to pets, and can cause vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, respiratory failure, as well as kidney and liver damage.
Daffodils are one of the first, cheerful signs of spring. But if any part of it is ingested by your pet, they may experience diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or breathing problems and heart arrhythmia.
Potatoes may be a staple at your dinner table, but don’t feed them to the dog. The potato is a nightshade, and all nightshades contain the toxic chemical solanine. Both the potato itself, and the green part of its plant are poisonous to your pet, so keep them well away.
Larkspur is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. If ingested, it can cause both neuromuscular and respiratory paralysis, and symptoms ranging from muscle weakness to muscle stiffness and tremors. In the worst case, it can cause cardiac failure and even death.
Because eating buttercups will cause blistering in the mouth, most dogs and cats won’t ingest enough of it to seriously harm them. But it can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dizziness, and drooling. Topical exposure to buttercups is also harmful, and can cause skin irritation.
Chrysanthemum, a popular blooming flower enjoyed by so many in fall, contain pyrethrins, which are naturally occurring pesticides. If eaten by your cat or dog, it may cause excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. In the worst case scenario, it can cause depression and motor difficulties, when ingested by pets.
Cyclamen is a popular houseplant for its unique foliage and colorful blooms. But be sure to keep your pets away from it. The roots are highly poisonous, and if ingested, can cause severe vomiting, and even death.
So often seen in home improvement stores and garden centers at Easter, Amaryllis is a common garden plant. It is toxic to both dogs and cats, however, and can cause tremors, excessive drooling, breathing difficulties, and abdominal problems including diarrhea and vomiting.
The popular holiday poinsettia has traditionally been known to be toxic to cats and dogs, and it is—but mildly in comparison to other plants on this list. The milky sap will cause skin irritation, and if ingested, it will cause mild gastrointestinal distress. But it is rarely the cause of serious poisoning. So, be mindful of your pets around them, but feel free to enjoy your poinsettias this Christmas.
Part of the Iridaceae family, Iris is poisonous to both cats and dogs. The bulbs are the most toxic, so dogs prone to digging may be the most at risk. Ingestion can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and drooling.
Oregano is commonly grown in herb gardens for use in cooking. Consumption by cats will cause intestinal distress, but is usually not severe. The essential oil, however, is far more damaging for cats. Unlike humans who like to use it as an alternative medicine, oregano essential oil should not be used as an antibiotic for cats. Ingestion of oregano essential oil by a cat can lead to liver failure.
While milkweed is a boon to butterflies, it is extremely toxic to dogs and cats. It will cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, and in severe cases, can cause cardiac arrhythmia.
Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley contains cardiac glycosides, which can adversely affect your pet’s heart rate, or cause severe arrhythmias, or seizures. This is on top of gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting and diarrhea. Lily of the Valley is not only poisonous to pets, it can harm children, as well.
Wisteria, with its waterfalling blossoms in purple, pink, or white, is as toxic as it is beautiful. The seeds and seedpods are the most dangerous, with the ability to poison both small animals and children. So, if you have dogs, cats, or young children, you should seriously consider removing the vines from your property.
Foxglove is poisonous to both pets and people. Even just a little bit of foxglove can kill a cat. The cardiac glycosides in foxglove can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness and heart failure. Even the water from a vase of cut foxglove flowers will be poisonous to pets, so keep those well protected, even inside.
Oleander is a delightful outdoor evergreen that thrives in warm climates. Its delicate flowers come in many colors, from pink to red to white, and even yellow. Though lovely, those flowers and leaves are poisonous to both pets and humans. So, cultivate oleander only if you are confident that every member of your household can keep their hands—or paws—off the plant.
While it might be surprising that these popular plants are toxic for cats and dogs, you now have the knowledge so you can select other flowers and houseplants that won't harm your furry friend.
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.