Posted on: September 20, 2017 at 12:54 pm
Last updated: June 20, 2018 at 10:33 am

Flowers and houseplants can do wonders for brightening up any space, but it turns out that some of them could be poisonous to your pet. Being aware of which plants are toxic will help you identify them at a park or trail, and also make your home and garden a safer place for pets. 

This knowledge is important for both dog and cat owners like –  just because your cat may spend most of its life indoors doesn’t mean that it won’t encounter plants throughout its life as well. There are many flowers and plants that are added to flower bouquets that can cause major health problems for your feline friend.


Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs

Their bright colors and easy-to-care for quality make them a crowd favorite for any garden, but azaleas can cause serious medical problems if ingested by your cat or dog. Azaleas are a type of rhododendron, which is toxic to both dogs and cats. It takes as little as one or two leaves to cause a reaction in your pet, so before planting them in your garden be aware of the risk that you’re taking.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure


poisonous plants

Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs

Oleanders are a versatile shrub that does well in a wide variety of conditions and soils. However, they can’t survive in cool temperatures. They can be found growing outdoors in warmer climates, and are often incorporated into bouquets. The toxic concern is in the flower, the branch, and the leaves of the plant. A very small amount of this plant can be deadly for your dog or cat.

Symptoms: Drooling, abdominal pain, diarrhea, colic, depression, death


poisonous plants

Toxicity: Toxic to cats, non-toxic to dogs

Their beauty, scent, and ability to remain fresh for long periods of time make lilies a favorite for flower arrangements. But, if your cat likes to jump up on the table to investigate new bouquets, his or her health could be at risk.

There are some lilies, like Peace, Peruvian and Calla Lilies that have minor side effects. But, there are others like Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show Lilies that are potentially fatal to your cat. It is very important to get your cat to a vet as soon as possible after ingestion, as decontamination is imperative in the early toxic stage[2].

Symptoms: Cats-kidney failure

Sago Palm

poisonous plants

Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs

The sago palm is a popular plant both inside of a house and out. It’s typically found in warmer climates but is otherwise easy to care for, which is what makes it a staple in many households. The fruit, seeds, and fronds of the fern are all poisonous to dogs and cats.

Symptoms: Vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, jaundice, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, bleeding disorders like coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, death.


poisonous plants


Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs

While the leaves and flower of the tulip aren’t toxic, the bulbs are. Some dogs enjoy digging up bulbs that are planted in the ground, so it’s important to be aware of the toxicity of these plants if you are planning on growing them in your backyard.

There is no specific antidote for the ingestion of tulips, but with supportive care from veterinarians, many animals recover quite well[2].

Symptoms: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, hypersalivation

What to Do If Your Pet Ingests Poisonous Plants

  1. Be prepared in advance

Being prepared before the incident occurs is key for the fast, effective treatment of your pet. Knowing which plants are toxic to your pet will help you to ensure that your pet isn’t exposed to it in the first place. That knowledge will help you to guide the vet in treatment should your pet be exposed to it.

2. Get Pet Insurance

Investing in pet insurance can be reassuring in times of emergency. In this way you’ll be able to focus on healing your pet instead of worrying about costs should an emergency occur. It’s important to note that most pet insurance companies won’t cover existing incidents, so getting pet insurance before your pet is in an emergency situation is important.

3. Remain Calm

If you think that your pet may have ingested a toxic plant it’s very important to remain calm. Your energy influences your pet and the more anxious you are the more those feelings will spread to your pet.


4. Call the veterinarian

Call your veterinarian for advice, even if the symptoms seem small. Have the phone number for your emergency vet clinic on hand, or program it into your phone for easy access in case of emergency.

Alternative Options for Plant Lovers

If you have a deep love for any of these plants and can’t possibly imagine your life without them, there is an option for you. Place your plants high up where your pets can’t reach them. Keep in mind that many cats love to climb. As long as the plants are inaccessible for your pet, you’ll be able to keep them safe.

Try spraying your plant with diluted lemon juice. Dogs and cats aren’t generally fond of the taste of lemon, and will likely avoid your plant like the plague if it smells like it.

If you have some of these plants in your garden, consider fencing off your flowers and flower beds to prevent your pet from accessing them. Chicken wire may be sufficient for a small dog, but if your dog is large you may need to consider a wooden fence to keep your dog out.

Monitor your dog and cat when they’re outside in the backyard to ensure that they’re not eating anything that they shouldn’t. Supply your dog with lots of toys and things to do so that he won’t be tempted to chew up your plants.

As much as the beauty of plants wows us every day, the safety of our pets should always come first. You wouldn’t keep poisonous substances in your home for your child to eat, so try not to keep toxic plants lying around for your pet to consume. That way your furry friend will be around for many more years to come.


[1] ASPCA. Poisonous Plants Retrieved on October 16, 2017 from

[2] Pet Poison Helpline. Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets. Retrieved on October 16, 2017 from

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