Thursday, April 16, 2009

Poisonous Plants for Pets

Meet Maggie O'Connor, the newest addition to our family. She's a sweet-tempered, lovable hound mix that we adopted from the Idaho Humane Society a few months ago. Isn't she a beauty?

Keeping her safe is our top priority. That's why we knew it was important to familiarize ourselves with plants that could make pets like Maggie sick.

What's Dangerous? According to the Humane Society, there are hundreds of plants that can cause everything from mild nausea to death in animals. Here's their list.

Coleus, chamomile, calla lilies and chrysanthemums are just a few popular plants that can make your pup ill, reports the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Incidentally, these coleus (or "coleuses," if you're a stickler for grammar) were grown by Elaine and Pat McCoy from seeds. Fortunately, the McCoy's two dogs -- Hillary and Clinton -- stay far away from these plants.

Biggest Problems? To determine the plants most likely to poison pets, Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (VPI) reviewed more than 400 claims it received for these types of incidents in 2008. The top 10 poisonous plants most likely to be ingested by pets are:

1. Raisins/Grapes
2. Mushrooms
3. Marijuana
4. Lily
5. Walnuts
6. Onion
7. Sago Palm
8. Macadamia Nuts
9. Azalea
10. Hydrangea

Did Your Pet Eat a Poisonous Plant? If you think your pet is ill or may have ingested a poisonous plant, the ASPCA advises you to call your local veterinarian or its 24-hour emergency hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435.

As for Maggie... It's discouraging that so many plants can make our pets sick. With Maggie, we're limiting her exposure to various plants, and we're correcting her whenever she tries to eat any plant. So far, she seems disinterested, fortunately.

Meanwhile, we welcome any pet-friendly suggestions for gardens that work for you.


  1. Fortunately I've never had problems with the dog eating plants. (besides grass) Pookey prefers to sleep on my flowers when she isn't chasing some imaginary prey through the garden.

  2. Interestingly cats will walk slowly to the field and star nibbling at certain certain grass shoots when they are sick.... some do have medicinal properties... cheers! ~ bangchik

  3. Maggie looks like a real sweetie! So far, in the 8 years we've had her, our dog, Chelsea, has had no problems with the various plants in our garden. And there are some poisonous ones, that's for sure.

  4. What a cutie! Very good info, Teresa. I think those sites are ones that need to be in my favorites for quick reference!

  5. Coco, my 6 month old terror mix loves to experience the world through her mouth. For a pup who will savor the nuanced alloys of the common penny, I need to be careful what else she manages to put in there. Thanks for the links and for listing the top 10 (what a surprise)!

  6. Thanks everyone for your nice comments. Maggie is much obliged too.

  7. I have also heard that almonds were of the apricot family and quite poisonus to pets.

  8. Actually both almonds and apricots are part of the Rosaceae (rose) family.

    Thanks, Gwynn, for the heads-up about almonds and apricots. Here's more on the topic

  9. Very useful information, Teresa; thank you for sharing it.

  10. Lovely new addition to your family and an interesting post. Non of my animals have ever shown any interest in eating plants (fingers crossed)

  11. Maggie is adorable. Who would have guessed about grapes and onions?
    Thank you for the post and beautiful blog.

  12. aaawwwww, Maggie is so pretty. I had no idea the list of poisonous plants was so big! We propagate and sell hydrangeas here at our family nursery and we have quite a few dogs around. I sure hope they are smart enough to stay away (so far so good!)

  13. Thanks for your messages. Maggie is getting a big head. LOL. Send along more of your pet-friendly gardening ideas and comments. Always glad to hear 'em.

  14. I knew about the grapes and raisins and chocolate but not the almonds, thanks for the tip.
    Kate in Richmond, Va.

  15. This is a very helpful post. Thanks. I had no idea about some of these - hydrangea is of particular interest.

    Another highly toxic one is angel trumpet. I have one, but I wouldn't if I had a baby or dog that I couldn't keep away from it.

    Thankfully our dog is uninterested in plants, and our cats don't go outside. Still this is good info to have!

  16. Thanks for your messages, Kate and Ginger.

    You're right, Ginger. Angel's Trumpet (Datura spp.) is beautiful, but has poisonous flowers, leaves and seeds. Definitely one to handle with caution.

    Here's more:

  17. I have wild onion/garlic in my garden my pup 'kuno' loves to dig these up. will it be dangerous for her? I have another question, which kind of weeds can be dangerous for pets?

  18. Organic gardening: As you can see, there are hundreds of plants that are dangerous to dogs. Your best bet is to consult the ASPCA list mentioned above. They have a comprehensive list and can provide more expert opinions.

    ASPCA also can provide more details on wild onions. I recommend you stop your dog from digging them up, and consider putting up a small fence to make it inconvenient for her to go in there.