Guide to Toxic Plants & Pets

Last updated: February 26, 2013

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Animal Training and Behaviour Centre

Many pet owners have come home to find that their carefully nurtured indoor and outdoor gardens have been damaged by their dog’s and cat’s curiosity and explorative behaviour. Puppies and kittens love to play with the sticks and leaves of plants, chewing and shredding them all over the garden or the kitchen floor. Older dogs and cats have also been known to dig up newly planted or potted plants and chewing the plastic pot or even the plant’s root system. These behaviours annoy and frustrate pet owners, but what effects are the plants having on our animals.

A large dog relaxing in a garden

Many people are not aware of how toxic many indoor and outdoor plants, and also cut flower arrangements could be to our beloved pets. Another serious issue regarding toxic plants are fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Just because we eat them, it doesn’t mean that they are safe for our pets to eat.

Below are some of the plants and foods that should be kept out of reach by our furry friends as they can present a risk to our animals.

The most common toxic plants that are found in domestic gardens and can cause a range of symptoms from skin irritations to fatality.

  • Angels Trumpet – all parts of plant are toxic, especially the seeds;
  • Asparagus Fern – Symptoms range due to a wide variety of toxins;
  • Azalea – Paralysis of the muscles, depression of the nervous system;
  • Bulbs (eg. Daffodils, jonquils, tulips, nerines, Spider lilies and Crocus) – Oral irritation, upset stomach, kidney failure, hyperactivity, lethargy, shock;
  • Buttercup (Ranunculus) – Stomach irritation, diarrhoea and convulsions;
  • Chrysanthemum – rash after contact;
  • Cycads – Leaves and nuts are highly toxic when eaten. Symptoms can be irregular stiffness when walking, liver and tissue damage, and paralysis;
  • Dumb Cane and Elephant’s Ear – Upset stomach, oral irritation, asphyxiation, tremors, seizures, difficulty balancing;
  • Ivy – Symptoms range due to a wide variety of toxins;
  • Lantana (berries) – Gastro-intestinal irritation, muscular weakness and slow circulation;
  • Lillies - all parts are quite toxic to cats if eaten. Causes inflammation of the stomach, progresses to acute renal failure and may be fatal if left untreated;
  • Oleander – nausea, depression, bloody diarrhea, weakened and irregular paralysis;
  • Paspalum – Seeds are sticky and can cause irritation, hair matting, and dermatitis;
  • Poinsettiea (leaves and stems) – Diarrhoea, abdominal cramping, Sap can cause irritation, and blindness if rubbed in eyes;
  • Privet - Bloody vomiting, diarrhoea, irritation of the digestive tract and nervous system;
  • Sago Palm/Japanese fern – potentially fatal;
  • Wandering Jew – Dermatitus;
  • White Cedar (fruit) – contractions, difficulty walking, coma; and
  • Wisteria – Severe vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Puppy running through a garden

Other plants, such as fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices are also known to cause problems in animals.

Some examples are as follows:

  • Allium plants (Onions, Garlic, Leeks, shallots) – Cause anaemia. It is recommended to not feed onions in any form;
  • Aloe Vera – Diarrhoea;
  • Apple Seeds - Symptoms vary;
  • Apricots and Peaches – Kernels contain cyanide. Animals may also have difficulty passing the seed;
  • Cherry Tree – Shock, gum inflammation, dilated pupils, rapid breathing;
  • Chocolate - Vomiting, diarrhoea, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tremors, seizures and possible coma. (the toxic ingredients in chocolate are Theobromine and caffeine);
  • Eggplant - Upset stomach, heart failure, drooling, lethargy;
  • Mushrooms – Various symptoms;
  • Nutmeg - Hallucinogen;
  • Nuts - do not break down in stomach, can have difficulty passing;
  • Potatoes and Tomatoes (sprouts, vines, unripe tubers) – Excessive drooling, abdominal pain;
  • Rhubarb - Vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle cramps, convulsions, coma;
  • Rosemary – Stomach irritation, diarrhoea; and
  • Seven year bean - raw highly toxic, cooked non toxic.

Of course, the listed plants are only a small example of toxic plants.

Please consult your garden nursery, botanical garden, veterinarian, or poisons centre for more information relating to toxic plants in your garden.

Warning:

If your dog or cat is showing any of the abovementioned symptoms, please consult your veterinarian for further information and/or treatment.

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