Common garden plants that are deadly to dogs and cats – and what to do if you eat one

Common garden plants that are deadly to dogs and cats – and what to do if you eat one

Many beautiful and common plants in the average English garden can be fatal to household pets. Peter Green, a veterinary surgeon, gives his advice on some of the most common things to watch out for.

Think of the wild flowers that grow in Britain and think of beauty and spring. Mention poisonous plants and we might immediately think of dangers like the deadly nightshade (Atropa), Yes (Yew) and hemlock (Oenanthe)or deadly fungi such as death cap(amanita) And curtain. However, sometimes, flowers that look beautiful and natural can be harmful to our pets.

We may remember that foxgloves (digitalisIt contains a powerful medicine for the heart, and of course we all know that poppy (Anemone) They are cultivated all over the world because of the opium they produce. The idea of ​​plants containing powerful chemicals is the basis of all herbal medicine, but somehow we risk thinking that medicinal plants and poisonous plants belong to a category of their own – “plants with active ingredients” – when in fact all plants contain Complex organic compounds that may or may not be toxic to people and their pets.

We choose plants for our garden mainly for their visual appeal – their flowers, leaves, bark, shape – and sometimes for their scent, but rarely because they are safe for our pets and children.

Until now The RHS publishes a list of more than 130 common garden plants that are potentially poisonous Documented cases of animals poisoned by harmless plants occur every year in the United Kingdom.

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Cats and dogs are most at risk because they are very curious and eat plant material regularly. They may avoid poisonous berries, leaves, or fruits if they are unpalatable, but it’s surprising what they will eat.

The risk is increased if they have access to cuttings or pruning as they may become more palatable as they wilt, and may also have a Mr or Mrs scent all over them.

So, what unexpected garden plants are dangerous for our pets?

Spring bulbs are either dug in the spring or ready to plant in the fall

Believe it or not, dogs can be poisoned by the bulbs of the most common spring flowers in our gardens: daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. These cases occur either in autumn, when the bulbs are lying down for planting, or in spring, when they are lifted after flowering.

Large, greedy breeds — Labradors, retrievers, poodlecrosses, and spaniels — are the worst because they think the bulbs are for eating, especially when we play the game of “plant it and I’ll find it, dig it and dig it.” all of which’. Stomach ulcers can be fatal.

Lily of the valley, and other plants that like shady corners

Both dogs and cats have been poisoned by lily of the valley (Councils of convalaria). All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the strong fragrance seems to attract browsing when in flower.

It is a plant of moist, shady places where pets like to roam and where you may also encounter the attractive berries of the pint cuckoo or lords and ladies (Spotted arum).

This distinctive little plant is rarely deliberately cultivated, but is common in larger, wilder gardens and its bright orange berries are palatable and poisonous. Gardeners are advised to cut the seed-bearing stems when the berries begin to ripen.

Lily of the valley - convallaria councils.

Lily of the valley

Deadly plants you’ll see on the border

monasticism (aconite) is widely planted in herbaceous borders, where it presents tall, spike-like racemes of deep blue flowers; Its wild cousin, wolfsbane, is sometimes cultivated.

Both are highly toxic and share the ability to cause poisoning by contact of the plant’s sap with the skin of gardeners or their pets. Human deaths from this contact are not known and both dogs and cats are known to have succumbed to the alkaloid aconitine found throughout the plant.


This deadly shrub thrives in dry, hot summers, and can be harmful even when on fire

The bush Nerium oleander It is a drought-tolerant Mediterranean shrub with narrow, dark green leaves and trusses of pink or red flowers. With climate change and a focus on plants that thrive without irrigation, they are appearing more commonly in garden centers and retail outlets, especially in southern England, where they tolerate frosts below freezing.

Nerium oleanderHowever, it is deadly – ​​all parts of the plant are poisonous and it is the most common cause of animal poisoning in some parts of the southern USA. If the shrubs are pruned, the clippings are attractive to both dogs and cats, and unlike most other poisonous plants, if the clippings are placed on a fire, the smoke itself is dangerous.

Oleander (aka Nerium oleander)

Oleander (aka Nerium oleander)

Lilies that can be killed with petal bite

Cats are at great risk from garden lilies, including… lily And Hemerocallis Species: Daylilies, tiger lilies, Easter lilies, and stargazers all contain highly toxic substances. Even a brush containing pollen or a sting from a few petals can be fatal.

Remember that the autumn crocus (Colchicum) are actually lilies and are equally poisonous.

Tiger lilies

Tiger lilies

What to do if your pet eats a poisonous plant?

If plant poisoning is suspected when a pet becomes suddenly ill, seek veterinary advice immediately – and be sure to take a sample of the plant ingested.

Of course it is best to be on your toes in the garden. Don’t leave cuttings about to wilt, and remove fallen berries – the berries of labrum, mistletoe, laurel, cherry and wisteria are all potentially poisonous.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to have a beautiful vine in the garden, keep an eye on dogs – grape poisoning in canines is well known.

Colchicum violet flower

The violet flower of the Colchicum plant, or autumn crocus

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