What Plants are Deadly to Dogs

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Here in the UK we are fast approaching spring when all the beautiful garden flowers start to pop their heads up, but as beautiful a time in the garden as this can be, it can also be a very dangerous time for small dogs in particular puppies that are just exploring the garden for their first season. Both within the UK and Worldwide there are a variety of plants in our gardens that are actually poisonous to our furry friends. So, I am writing a rough guide as to some of the more common plants that are here in the UK but may also apply where you live as the export of beautiful and exotic but toxic plants is now so widespread.

What plants are deadly to dogs? The more obvious are Deadly Nightshade, Yew, Hemlock and the Death Cap Toadstool. But there are many less obvious such as Foxglove leaves or seeds Poppies, Daffodil Bulbs, Henbane, Jessamine or Jasmine berries and sap, Larkspur, Mistletoe, Ragwort , Rhododendron, and Rhubarb leaves. Water Dropwort also known as Hemlock and for those dogs that spend time picking up and chewing twigs Wild Cherry Tree can be fatal.

The list here is almost endless and I don’t want you to be scared about letting your dog out into the garden, but I do want you to be aware of what possible nightmares may be in your garden or even out on your walks. As dogs get older some will be very aware of what to avoid.

Some plants will simply have an odour that you may not smell, but your dog can and will thus avoid, but puppies tend to be ignorant, particularly when they have been removed from their parents and peers and as such will not have been taught the necessary information to know what to avoid. As such YOU need to be aware so that you can teach them to stay away.

A Hard Lesson Learnt

Myself and Jan at Top Lap Dogs learnt the hard way, when two of our horses had been put into a field where someone else had burnt some wood.

The horses chewed the bark of the burnt wood, assumably because they liked the taste, (charcoal biscuits can sometimes be a tasty supplement for horses and dogs alike) what we did not appreciate was that the wood was Yew.

Both horses died within 48hrs, and it wasn’t until an after the autopsy and an inspection of the area where they were that weekend that we realised that the bonfire had been cuttings from a yew tree.

A List of Plants Deadly to Dogs and Cats

To make life a little bit simpler I have listed below those common plants that can be fatal to your furry friend and I have put a link at the bottom to a page from the Dog’s Trust that has an extensive list of plants that are not just fatal but can cause problems like diarrhoea etc.

What Garden Plants are deadly to Dogs?

Commonly Known Name Botanical or Latin Name Details of Complications
Amaryllis (bulbs) Hippeastrum species Upset stomach, hyperactivity, lethargy, coma, shock.
Can be fatal
Angel wings Caladium species Caladium species Upset stomach, oral irritation, asphyxiation, tremors, seizures, loss of balance. Can be fatal.
Apricot (kernels) Prunus armeniaca   Kernels contain cyanide.
Can be fatal.
Avocado (fruit & pith) Persea americana Diarrhoea, vomiting
Can be fatal
Azalea (all parts) Rhododenron occidentale Nausea, vomiting, depression, difficulty breathing and coma.
Can be fatal in large quantities.
Castor bean (leaves and seeds) Ricinus communis May cause dermatitis. A single Rosary Pea or one/two Castor bean seeds can be fatal.
Cherry (kernels) Prunus species Kernels contain cyanide.
Can be fatal
Cocoa husks or mulch   Similar toxic effects to that of chocolate – hyperactivity, increased heart rate.
Can be fatal if enough is eaten
Daffodil (bulbs) Narcissus species Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea. May also cause dermatitis.
Can be fatal.
Dieffenbachia    Dieffenbachia species Causes diarrhea, mouth sores. May cause dermatitis. Tremors, seizures, loss of balance, asphyxiation.
Can be fatal.
Dumb cane Dieffenbachia amaena Causes diarrhea and oral irritation if eaten. May cause dermatitis. Tremors, seizures, loss of balance, asphyxiation.
Can be fatal.
Elephant ears Bergenia species Intense burning, irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat. If the tongue swells enough it can block the air passage
Can be fatal.
Jessamine (berries & sap) Cestrum species Digestive disturbance. Gastrointestinal tract and nervous system affected.
Can be fatal.
Jimson weed (Thorn Apple) Datura stramonium Abnormal thirst, distorted sight, delirium, incoherence, coma.
Can be fatal.
Larkspur (young plants & seeds) Delphinium species Digestive upset, nervousness, depression. Cardiovascular system affected. May cause dermatitis. Can be fatal.
Mistletoe (berries) Phoradendron flavescens Gastrointestinal tract affected. May cause dermatitis. If eaten by a puppy, a few berries
Can be fatal.
Mother-in-law’s tongue (leaves) Dieffenbachia amaena Causes diarrhoea and oral irritation if eaten. May cause dermatitis. Tremors, seizures, loss of balance, asphyxiation.
Can be fatal.
Narcissus (bulbs) Narcissus Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea. May cause dermatitis.
Can be fatal
Nightshades Solanum species Intense digestive disturbances.
Can be fatal.
Oleander   Nerium oleander Affects the heart, produces severe digestive upset, extremely poisonous. May cause dermatitis. Can be fatal.  
Onion (These contain Thiosulfate) Allium species Causes Hemolytic anemia. Onions should not be given to dogs in any form. Raw or cooked.
Side effects can be fatal.
Poison hemlock   Conium maculatum   Nervous system affected. May cause dermatitis.
Can be fatal.
Ragwort Senecio species   Causes kidney failure and liver damage.
Fatal to Dogs and Horses
Rhododendron   Rhododendron species   Nausea, vomiting, depression, difficulty breathing and coma.
Can be fatal.
Rhubarb (leaves) Rheum species   Large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions and coma.
Can be fatal.
Sago palm Cycas revoluta Can be fatal
Water Dropwort (Hemlock)   Oenanthe crocata   Rapid-onset violent convulsions. Can be fatal
Water hemlock Cicuta maculata Violent painful convulsions.
Can be fatal.
Wild cherry tree (twigs & foliage) Prunus avium Gasping, excitement, prostration. Can be fatal.
Yew (berries & foliage)   Taxus species   Dizziness, dry mouth and mydriasis develop within one hour, followed by abdominal cramping, salivation and vomiting. Foliage is more fatal than berries, death can be sudden without warning or symptoms. Can be fatal.

Not wishing to be fatalistic but also in the garden you may have, or be using these common garden products:

Anticoagulant rodenticides Rat and Mouse Poisons containing
difenacoum , bromadiolone, brodadiolone,  coumatetralyl.

Ant Killing Powders

Slug bait containing

Glyphosate based herbicides


Pyrethrin-based insecticides


What in your garden is deadly to your dog?

Our message here is to just think before you le your wonderful furry friend out exploring the garden. If your dog is a digger he may well dig up your daffodils. Often freshly dug earth is very attractive to a dog.

We put plants in our gardens for visuality, their pretty flowers, foliage colour and smell, it is not a first thought about whether they present a danger to our pets.

The RHS has a list of common garden plants (about 130) that are potentially toxic, I have left a link at the bottom of this article if t helps you.

Dogs and Cats are at risk because they weave in and out of the flower beds without even thinking about the possible problems and as such so are small children. Dogs regularly ingest plant material often chewing on grass shoots because they taste sweet, but they may simply be attracted to things like cuttings or clippings simply because they can smell their owners’ scent on them.

Bulbs ready for planting your dog may like

Dogs can be poisoned by common spring flower bulbs in our greenhouses or gardens: daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and many other bulbs are often left lying around in tubs or on shelving. Gardeners lift them in the late spring or autumn, and then leave them lying about for planting later.

Many breeds from labradors, retrievers, springer spaniels and poodle crosses are often the worst as they seem to think that bulbs lying around are for eating.

For those dogs that are diggers, particularly just after planting the dogs play their own game of ‘you plant it, I’ll dig it up and then eat it’. Depending upon the breed, a bellyful can be absolutely fatal.

The best you can do is to watch your dog and warn him away from anything dangerous. You could put up fencing to your flower borders but that doesn’t really teach them anything and it is added expense.

Better maybe to keep up your interaction with them while they are in the garden, show them flower borders or greenhouse areas where they are not allowed and make sure that they understand that some areas are out of bounds.

What to do if your dog eats something they shouldn’t

If you only suspect that your dog has eaten something then keep a close eye on them for 12 to 24hrs.

If you ae certain they have eaten something then do your research quickly on the effect it may have, if it is something that could lead to a fatality take your dog to the vet and if possible take a sample of what they ate and any information you have about what it may be.

If the dog becomes listless, has convulsions or loses its balance and struggles to walk then get your friend to the vet fast.

If your dog is just sick (throwing up) with no other symptoms then be sure to keep a close eye on them and if any other symptoms do start to show, head for your veterinarian without delay.

If you suspect that your dog has swallowed something like rat poison do not try to make them sick, convulsing could add to your problems with internal bleeding.

Having seen the results ourselves we would hope that none of you go through the horror.

Amarylus Bulb And Flower
Amaryllis Bulbs and Flower
Apricot And Avacado
Apricot with Kernel and Avacado
Daffodil Flowers And Bulbs
Daffodil Bulbs and Flowers
Hemlock And Ragwort
Hemlock and Ragwort are typical on roadsides and in fields

Links to further information

The Dogs Trust List of Poisonous plants

The RHS list of 130 poisonous plants

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