8 Plants That Are Poisonous to Pets

The summer outdoors can be a fun place—until your dog traipses through a field of painful plants.

As you find yourself spending more time outdoors with your pets, it’s important to educate yourself on potentially harmful plants that could pose a serious threat to their health. From azaleas to oleander, we cover some common culprits that you need to avoid.

Azaleas

©istockphoto/Jonathan Larsen

©istockphoto/Jonathan Larsen

When it comes to azaleas and pets, there is so such thing as a safe encounter. Unlike some of the less potent plants out there, azaleas contain cardiac glycosides and grayanotoxins which can cause symptoms ranging from excessive drooling to leg paralysis, coma, and death. Because azaleas are so dangerous to dogs and cats, it’s best to avoid planting them in a garden where animals may roam.


Daffodils

©istockphoto/ Todd Keith

©istockphoto/ Todd Keith

These bright and sunny blooms are a cheerful reminder that spring is finally on its way. They can also be extremely harmful to animals. They may look innocuous, daffodils contain poisonous alkaloids which can affect the digestive system, cause heavy salivation, and lead to convulsions and cardiac issues. While the entire plant should be avoided, the lion’s share of the toxins are centered in the bulb.


Lilies

©istockphoto/intst

©istockphoto/intst

Next time you’re browsing the selection at your favourite flower shop, it may be wise to skip the lilies if you’ve got furry or feathered companions at home. As beautiful as they may be, lilies can cause a host of health problems, especially in cats. Symptoms of poisoning may include tongue and lip irritation, excessive salivation, problems swallowing and can also lead to vomiting, lethargy, kidney failure, and death.


Aloe Vera

©istockphoto/dangdumrong

©istockphoto/dangdumrong

If used on skin, aloe can provide relief from itching and burns—but if ingested, it’s a whole different story. Anthaquinon glycosides, the toxins found in the leaves of the plant, typically lead to vomiting and diarrhea but can also cause more serious digestive issues as well as tremors. If your dog gets sunburnt and you want to use aloe, make sure he can’t lick it off.


Oleander

©istockphoto/pookistock

©istockphoto/pookistock

Anyone who’s grown up in locales where oleander grows can tell you that it’s best to avoid this pretty plant altogether. Behind the bright green leaves and dainty flowers hide dangerous toxins that can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Symptoms of oleander poisoning include abnormal heart rate, vomiting, drooling, and seizures; it can also lead to dangerously high potassium levels and death.


Morning Glory

©istockphoto/YangYin

©istockphoto/YangYin

It’s bright purple or blue flowers and deep green leaves may look harmless but the truth is that several species of this climbing vine can cause serious health issues to pets. The seeds contained within the blooms contain lysergic alkaloids, toxins that can cause digestive issues as well as necrosis of the liver.


Sago Palm

©istockphoto/Warren Price Photography

©istockphoto/Warren Price Photography

While you may not find yourself coming across sago palms in the wild (unless, of course, you live in a tropical or subtropical climate) they’re often used as decorative plants or in Bonsai gardens. The sago palm is considered one of the most dangerous plants as far as toxicity is concerned as they contain cycasin which can lead to gastrointestinal issues and liver failure. If you suspect that your pet has ingested sago palm (all parts of the plant are considered very harmful) it is critical to seek immediate veterinary assistance. Even with treatment, the survival rate after sago palm poisoning is only estimated to be 50%.


Yew

©istockphoto/ ajt

©istockphoto/ ajt

This commonly observed evergreen boasts bright red berries which can appear to be downright irresistible to pets. Delightful as it may look, yew contains taxines throughout its branches, leaves, and berries, which are known to be extremely poisonous to dogs, cats, birds, and horses. Ingestion of yew can lead to a host of life-threatening reactions including seizures, changes in blood pressure and heart rate, respiratory distress, as well as coma and death.

Meet the Author: Kate Walker

Who is Kate Walker? She's a freelance writer, yoga addict, animal lover and citizen of the concrete jungle. When not on the mat, Kate can be found at the dog park or on the dock in Muskoka. She is also pretty fond of running, skiing, and Settlers of Catan.

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