Spring is in the air, and many avid gardeners are itching to start planting and tending to this year’s garden. If you are a pet owner as well as a gardener, paying attention to the plants you cultivate is critical, as some beautiful flowers, garden vegetables, and other plants can be dangerous, or deadly, to your furry friends. When browsing a seed catalog or strolling through a greenhouse, avoid bringing home these 12 toxic plants, or take precautions to keep your pet away from them. 

#1: Lilies

Lilies make a beautiful addition to your garden, and are especially popular around Easter, but they may also be deadly to a curious cat. Asiatic, day, tiger, Japanese show, and Easter lilies can cause severe, and often fatal, acute kidney failure in cats who ingest any part of the plant, including the pollen. A strong cardiac toxin in lily of the valley may lead to heart arrythmias, poor heart function, and potentially death in cats, and peace, Peruvian, and calla lilies may irritate the mouth and esophagus, causing hypersalivation, oral pain, or vomiting.

#2: Oleander

All parts of this popular shrub contain cardiac glycosides, toxins that interfere primarily with heart function, and can cause an abnormal heart rate or rhythm, and also drooling, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities, seizures, or tremors in pets. 

#3: Daffodils

Daffodils are a beautiful sign of spring, but they can cause significant gastrointestinal (GI) distress to pets if the flowers, leaves, or bulb are ingested. Exposed pets exhibit varying degrees of diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, and abnormal breathing. 

#4: Sago palm

The seed is the most toxic part of a sago palm, although toxic effects can be seen after a pet ingests any plant part. Pets will initially experience GI signs, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or drooling, and then progress to weakness, tremors, seizures, and liver failure. Sago palm ingestion is fatal in 50% of cases, despite aggressive treatment, so ensuring your pet doesn’t have access to the palm is critical.

#5: Tomato plants and green tomatoes

While a ripe, red tomato makes a tasty treat for your furry friends, small green tomatoes, or any part of the tomato plant, can cause vomiting, weakness, slow heart rate, or excessive salivation, when ingested.

#6: Tulips and hyacinths

The bulb is the most toxic portion of these plants, so toxicity cases tend to occur in dogs who dig up and eat the bulbs, or find bulbs waiting to be planted. Drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, or changes in heart rate or respiration are all possible effects of exposure, depending on the amount ingested. 

#7: Castor bean

The seeds and leaves of this large plant contain a strong toxin that causes weakness, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, trembling, vomiting, or sudden collapse when ingested. The plant may be fatal to pets who ingest only small amounts.

#8: Azalea and rhododendron

Ingesting only a small amount of any part of this beautiful flowering shrub can prove toxic to your pets. Toxicity signs include diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, vomiting, tremors, seizures, weakness, or coma.

#9: Onions, garlic, and chives

Ensure your pet doesn’t have access to your garden if you plan to grow onions, garlic, or chives, as these plants can cause bloody urine, vomiting, red blood cell destruction, and weakness, when ingested in sufficient quantities.

#10: Brunfelsia

All parts of this purple flowering plant are toxic to pets, and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, incoordination, increased salivation, and seizures. 

#11: Yew

Yew is a popular, but dangerous, shrub for landscaping, as all parts of the plant, including the pretty red berries, are highly toxic. Pets who ingest yew may exhibit difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, seizures, coma, vomiting, heart and blood pressure abnormalities, and death.

#12: Texas mountain laurel

This beautiful, sweet-smelling native plant can cause trembling, falling, or a stiff gait in your pet, if she ingests the mature foliage or seeds. The seeds must be chewed to cause toxicity, so unchewed seeds may pass through the digestive tract uneventfully.

For help identifying which plants are safe for your furry friends, reference the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants, or search for the plant’s name on the Pet Poison Helpline website. Many beautiful, non-toxic plants are available that will provide you with a stunning garden, while ensuring the safety of your pets and any neighborhood dogs or cats who may enter your yard.

If you think your pet has ingested a toxic plant, immediately call our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center team, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or Pet Poison Helpline, to ensure she gets the treatment she needs. Have a plant sample handy, especially if you are unsure of the plant’s name.