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Plants Poisonous to Dogs

Many Common Weeds, Flowers Toxic to Max

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Picture of a yellow daffodil.

Daffodils aren't eaten by squirrel pests for a very good reason: they're toxic.

David Beaulieu

Many plants poisonous to dogs are very common in backyards. These toxic time-bombs range from being only mildly toxic (e.g., causing vomiting) to being responsible for more serious canine health problems. If you wish to err on the safe side, thoroughly research any vegetation, berries, etc. to which your canine friend has access.

In the case of some plants that pose a danger, only a particular part of the life form in question will be toxic -- i.e., the seed, leaves, etc. But it is beyond the scope of this article to delve into those details. I'm a landscaping enthusiast, not a toxicologist, so further questions should be addressed to those more expert in the field than I. Nor is the listing of plants poisonous to dogs that follows intended in any way to be complete. Rather, it is a sampling of the lists of plants poisonous to dogs provided by such organizations as the ASPCA and the Humane Society; consider the list as a springboard to further research.

I have organized this sampling of plants poisonous to dogs according to type (vines, shrubs, etc.), as an indication of the potential scope of the problem.

Toxic Vines

Many vines, including the two listed below, have the potential to be invasive plants. But vines are also incredibly versatile, serving many a landscaping need. If you own a canine friend who has the run of the yard, just make sure you choose vines that, unlike these five examples, are not plants poisonous to dogs:

  1. English Ivy
  2. Morning Glory
  3. Wisteria Vines
  4. Clematis Vines
  5. American Bittersweet

Perennial Flowers Toxic to Dogs

The toxic nature of some of the perennial plants poisonous to dogs will probably come as no surprise to some of you. The danger posed by foxglove, for example, is fairly common knowledge. But other entries for this category may take you aback:

  1. Foxglove
  2. Mums
  3. Lenten Rose

Toxic Shrubs

Shrubs, along with trees and hardscape, help supply a "backbone" for the yard. My list of shrubs offers a glimpse into some of the possibilities these workhorses of the landscape provide. But several shrubs are plants poisonous to dogs, including the following:

  1. Rose of Sharon
  2. Yew
  3. Holly
  4. Mountain Laurel
  5. Hydrangea Shrubs
  6. Burning Bush
  7. Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  8. Boxwood Shrubs
  9. Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)
  10. Privet Bushes

Examples of Trees Toxic to Dogs

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Our faith in this maxim isn't shaken by the well-known fact that apple seeds contain cyanide. Nor should it be. But according to the ASPCA, even the leaves of apple trees are toxic, and The Merck Veterinary Manual confirms this claim. Since the hawthorns are related to apples, it should come as no surprise that Washington hawthorn trees, for example, are toxic to canines.

Example of a Bulb Plant Poisonous to Dogs

You may have heard that squirrels -- a major pest for many other bulbs -- won't eat daffodils. But do you know why? The fact is, daffodils are toxic.

Example of a Hanging Plant Poisonous to Dogs

In the North, where lantana is treated as an annual, it is popular in hanging baskets, in which its lively flowers grace many a porch or patio. But not only is lantana an invasive shrub in warmer areas, it is also a plant poisonous to dogs.

Toxic Foliage Plants

Some landscaping stalwarts are grown for their flowers, but others are grown for their vegetation. We sometimes refer to them as foliage specimens. The first three examples below share two things in common: besides being plants poisonous to dogs, they are also known for having large leaves, generally (there are exceptions). The fourth example is grown as a houseplant in the cold climates:

  1. Castor Beans
  2. Elephant Ears
  3. Hosta
  4. Aloe Vera

Toxic Weeds

Finally, as if weeds didn't already give us fits in trying to control them, there are also some weed plants poisonous to dogs. Of the two examples listed below, at least yellow dock has some upside: namely, its leaves can be crushed to create a salve for stinging nettle burns.

  1. Yellow Dock
  2. Bittersweet Nightshade

If you know you have plants poisonous to dogs growing in your yard, it's a good idea to keep your dog from accessing them, perhaps via some type of fence. But seedlings (especially of weeds) can sprout up very quickly, so also be sure to monitor the grounds within the fencing, to ensure that it remains free of toxic intruders.

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