In this post:
- Different Types of Toxicity – Not All Toxic Plants are Deadly
- 5 Common Toxic Plants to Avoid
- My 5 Favorite Dog Safe Flowers
I think it’s important to know that not all toxic plants that your dog might ingest can kill them! For example, there has always been a lot of hype around the holidays about poinsettias. I was pretty sure that plant could kill both my dogs and my cats, so I never had live ones in the house. As it turns out, yes, they can make your pets sick, but they’re not as deadly as all the hype has said. There’s also a lot of hype around Easter about lilies and cats. That is 100% true – lilies ARE deadly to cats.
I like the Midtown Animal Clinic’s list of dog-toxic plants the best, because they break it down into just how dangerous it is. There are 4 levels:
- Major – can cause serious illness or death.
- Minor – can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
- Oxalates – The juice or sap of some plants has crystals that can irritate the skin, mouth, nose and throat of your dog. It can lead to swelling and breathing difficulties, along with burning pain and upset stomach.
- Dermatitis – The juice, sap, and thorns of some plants can cause skin rash or irritation. After contact with these plants, you should wash your dog with soap and water. The rashes can sometimes be very serious and painful.
I think knowing these toxicity levels can reduce some of the panic that might happen if your dog ingests or comes into contact with one. Knowing what to expect and whether or not to rush to the vet can be important! I personally prefer to keep all toxic plants away from the dogs, because even just a sick dog is no fun for anyone.
5 Common Toxic Plants to Avoid
These plants are common in my area of the country, there may be others that are more common where you live. We have each of these in our yard, but they are outside of the dog yard.
Rhododendron: Major toxicity!
Hydrangea: Major toxicity and dermatitis
Azalea: Major toxicity
Daffodil: the bulbs only – minor toxicity and dermatitis
Lilies: True lilies have minor toxicity and dermatitis to dogs. Don’t forget, they are MAJORLY TOXIC to cats. I mentioned in Part 3 that daylilies are not true lilies and are not toxic to dogs. The photos below illustrate the difference. I believe you can tell by the leaves. Daylilies have many long grass-like leaves that grow from the soil lines. True lilies have one long stem with the flower at the top, and leaves along that stem.
If you enjoy beautiful flowers and want to plant some that are safe for your dogs, the following are 5 of my favorite dog safe flowers. I enjoy each of these flowers not just for their beauty, but because they’re easy to grow and in most cases inexpensive to start from seed, or buy in 6 packs from your local nursery. The forsythia is the only bush in this group and it is also easy to grow. If you trim it back each year it will come back even stronger.
Confusion! I was all set to share pansies as one of my favorite non-toxic flowers. They didn’t appear on either list I checked for toxic plants. Then when researching something else, I read one place that said they should be avoided if you have dogs! The truth is sometimes the answers here are not clear; and all we can do is the best we can.
Are any of these flowers your favorites?
I’ll have one last post in this series where I’ll talk about other things in your yard and garden that can affect your dogs. Here are the previous posts in our series thus far:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Quiz – Do you know what these plants are and if they are safe for your dogs? Even though the prize giveaway is now closed, you can still have fun with this quiz and then find the answers in Part 3.
Part 3 – Quiz answers
Part 4 – Herbs
Realize this is an old post but as I am gardening with a dog thought I would add a few of my favorite plants:phlox, salvia, butterfly bush, canna lily (not regular lilies or calla lilies! which ARE toxic), lavender, roses (in containers or out of dog’s fence patrol areas so she doesn’t encounter thorns), camellia, hens and chicks, creeping jenny (spreads fast and can be invasive but I have very large garden beds), scaveola (hanging pot). I have a mostly shady yard and majority of these plants grow in partial shade.
I am always especially looking for shade loving plants so I’m happy to hear these ideas! I had slacked off on some things; we had only one older dog left in the family and he was so smart and good I didn’t have to worry about plants with him. Then we got two new puppies so I am right back into being diligent about things! I had to fence off my herb garden (mostly because of chives and because they were digging in it!), and I’ll get that moved out completely soon. Thanks for chiming in! I do love that people are still finding this post. 🙂
My dog dug up my daffidil bulbs but did not eat them and is fine. Though she is attempting to dig to China through my back yard
So glad she’s OK, and was smart enough not to eat them! Some dogs just really love digging; our golden retrievers left craters all over our yard! LOL
Amelie Yates says
I wish I had read this article before I bought my daughter 6 plants, two of which are listed. She has 3 dogs, and she wanted some plants so I looked for low maintenance house plants. Nowhere did several websites mention the toxicity danger to animals/small children. Now she has 2 plants that she will have to get rid of due to the risk, one dog thinks he is a giraffe and loves to eat leaves.
Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that. I really wish they would label plants for pet safety.
Really useful post for every pet owners. Thanks a lot for sharing. And you look so cute, Jan. Love the way you jump in the pic. Enjoy your life 🙂
Great tips! I had no idea about rhododendrons and azalias! We do have some in the back yard, but the dogs aren’t interested in them at all. Need to remember this for the future.
Jenya Rubanova says
Great post! Somehow, your cattledog/rat terrier mix is only interested in digging out our plants, not actually eating them 🙂
Digging is half the fun! Sheba and Luke love to dig up clumps of grass and dirt, but unfortunately sometimes they eat them as well (at least that’s harmless in moderation). 🙂
Dolly the Doxie says
Mom thinks she had some Alyssum but it all died, and she’s pretty sure the big bush that Taffy keeps getting into trying to catch the rabbit is a Hydrangea, not good. But otherwise she mostly plants geraniums and begonias in pots. She’s not as adventoursome as you. Love Dolly
Gardening really is hard work and can be frustrating sometimes, but I’m persistent! 🙂 My Mom was big into gardening, and I think carrying on that tradition makes me feel closer to her (she’s been gone almost 17 years now).
2 Brown Dawgs says
Excellent information. We have day lilies at the cabin (we did not plant them). I am glad to know they are pet safe. With sand soil and no there to consistently water, I am surprised we even have those lol.
I think daylilies can fend for themselves pretty well – my favorite kind of flower are those that are self sufficient! LOL
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
Azaleas were my mom’s favorite – and we had them in every color all around the house – As far as I can remember, none of our poodles ever bothered them. We have an azalea on each side of our house, outside the backyard fence, more because they prefer indirect sunlight. Back when we planted them, we knew nothing of their toxicity to dogs. I love azaleas, too, and rhododendron, pansies, all the ones you mentioned. Our poor day lilies got trampled by Callie and Shadow a long time ago.
Love the pic of Sheba in front of the forsythia!!
I miss that forsythia bush so much! We moved one of the ones that was here (it was in the way) and I’m hoping we can get it to come back….but it’s going to take quite a while before it looks like that one.
There was a lot of flowers here surrounding the patio, and at first they seemed to hold up to the constant traffic, but they’re starting to show some wear now! I think we’re going to do something different with the patio next year anyway, or we’re just going to have a brick patio surrounded by dirt….LOL.
Jean Dion says
Many of the plants in my yard are behind pup-proof fences. Originally, those fences were made to keep a certain male dog from peeing on the delicate plants. But now, they protect both dogs from both plants and the bugs that live on said plants!
Jean from Welcome to the Menagerie
These guys are trampling and peeing on what flowers I did leave that were safe for them around the patio, so I think I’m going to have to add some more fences now anyway, if I want to save them! 🙂
We have had petunias in our pots, but no more because Mom says they make too big of a mess. Otherwise, we only have a few pots of flowers around, no gardens.
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
thanks for this post, very helpful. I love snapdragons!
Two French Bulldogs says
Important post. Mom is happy we are not interested in any flowers or plants
Lily & Edward
Hailey and Zaphod says
Didn’t know that about the lily. We have some. The dogs have never shown an interest. I should do some research into weeds that are dangerous because I don’t garden but we have a lot of weeds etc. around.
I can only imagine how much confusion there might be surrounding weeds! We do have some in our yard too that I was able to identify, but I couldn’t find anything out about their toxicity.
Thankfully, Barley doesn’t eat any plants I don’t give her and Soth only eats the grass (as long as it’s outside–put a flower inside and it’s like a magnet for him. Thankfully(?), he also barfs up any plant he munches on as soon as his little feet hit my carpet again, so some of the toxic plants he’s eaten haven’t been in there long enough to have many ill effects.) Rhododendrons and hydrangeas are my favorite (and my house came with several of both), so I’m glad that Barley leaves them alone.
We had a beautiful rhododendron bush here too, but it was going into the house and over the bulkhead so it had to be cut way back. I love them too so I was sad about that. It’s actually coming back some now though and I think we can keep it as long as we keep it trimmed.
Have you ever bought or planted cat grass or any kind of other grass for Soth in the house? I’ve tried it twice with Sam, and every time all she does is throw it back up! I think maybe she just over-indulges and that’s why. 🙂 We can’t have any flowers or plants in the house either unless they are out of her reach!
easy rider says
the momma suddenly looked like a smashed frog while reading… she furgot the flower pot she bought today in the car…she also fugot the name of that weed, butt after 87 hours in the car we can call it gonerarius exitus hehehe thanks for this post, we will look for “bad” plants and thanks for reminding the mama of the weed in the trunk LOL
Whoops! Glad we could help, though it sounds like it was too late for that poor plant! 🙂