Spring Has Sprung, Hooray! Do You Know Which Spring Blooms Are Poisonous to Your Dog?

Phoebe encounters desert wildflowers and a Barrel cactus
Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, and a time to GET OUTSIDE after a long, harsh Winter.  Spring is exciting for our dogs as well as for us.  All those newly sprung smells to sniff and tiny new stems to nibble on!   Ever notice how when you grab the shovel and start planting new garden plants, your dog wants to get in on the action?  She starts prancing around you excitedly and may join in and start digging herself.   That’s what my dogs do anyway.  Before you head outside to plant your Spring garden, consider carefully which plants you choose to include in your garden and where to place them.  Potentially toxic plants, shrubs and flowers abound and should be kept out of reach of your dogs, cats and even horses.   You might be surprised to find hazardous plants that are already lurking in your landscape.

Before you add flowers, plants, shrubs or evergreens to your home or landscape make sure they are safe for pets to be around.  If not, place them well out of reach or don’t include them at all.  WedMD (www.webmd.com), an online health information organization, reported that in 2012 more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning were reported in the U.S., some of which included poisoning due to ingesting plants that are harmful to pets.  The below list of pet-hazardous plants may seem lengthy, but it’s actually a short list of common garden and house plants that can pose a danger to your dog.   There are many hundreds of plants that are known to be dangerous to dogs.

If your dog ingests all or part of a poisonous plant it can cause adverse reactions such as; vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, change in urine color, oral irritation or burning, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and even liver failure or death in more serious cases. 
Below is a partial list of common plants, shrubs, and flowers that are hazardous to dogs.  Some of them may already be lurking in your own backyard.

Daffodils, Narcissus, Paperwhites            
Azalea and Rhododendron
Sweet Potato Vine
Tomato plants
Rose of Sharon
Foxglove (the heart medicine Digitalis is made from this plant!)
Spring Tulips emerging in my garden

Morning Glory
Several varieties of Daisy and Chrysanthemum
Boxwood and Privet Hedge
Various types of Carnations
Aloe Vera
Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia, Caladium)
Jade plant
Ambrosia Mexicana (a.k.a. Jerusalem Oak)
Several varieties of Holly
Several varieties of Yew
Several types of Lily’s, including Calla Lily and Peace Lily
Baby’s Breath
Several types of Bird of Paradise
Several varieties of Ivy
Sago Palms
Various types of Onion plants (Onion in general is toxic to dogs)
Stems, leaves, and seeds of several common fruit trees can also be toxic to pets. 
(Sources: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States, WebMD)

 I realize it may be impossible to keep all of these plants out of your home or landscape, and your dog may encounter them on walks or during visits to other homes or park areas.  Keep an eye out for hazardous plants and carry something with you to help deter your dog from ingesting any part of a hazardous plant.  I try to have only pet safe plants in my yard but it’s not always possible, especially since we moved into two houses with existing landscapes in the last 7 years.   Ripping out all the landscape just isn’t feasible.  To help prevent my dogs from nibbling on my garden plants I spray the plants lightly with Bitter Apple or other bitter spray.   Some people spritz distilled white vinegar on or around plants as a pet deterrent as well.    Spray plants 2-3 times a week for a week or two and dogs will quickly learn that the plants are unpleasant to sniff or taste, and the plants will soon lose their appeal.
Rather than letting your dog randomly chew sticks or leaves he finds around the yard or while out on walks, it’s safer to always have a ready supply of really appealing chew toys from the pet store on hand.  My dogs love Kong or Nylabone chew toys, especially the ones that are flavored with chicken.  They usually last a long time too.  If you are uncertain about a particular plant’s potential danger to pets, ask your Veterinarian or check out the ASPCA or Humane Society of the U.S. web sites:
 The ASPCA’s list of some of the many plants that have been known to be harmful to dogs, as well as a list of plants that are NOT harmful to dogs, can be found at:
You can download a .pdf of the Humane Society’s list of plants that can be poisonous to pets at:

If you think your pet has ingested a flower or plant that is poisonous, contact your local veterinarian or emergency animal hospital immediately.  You can also contact the ASPCA’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
Enjoy the beauty of Spring with your dogs safely!

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