Gardening is a national pastime and most people who own dogs will also have a garden. Do you know just how many common garden plants can be toxic to dogs if eaten? Once you start to read the labels on plants, bulbs and seeds, it is amazing how many say “toxic if eaten”. However we do have to remain sensible about the risks involved with poisonous plants, otherwise us dog owners would have nothing in our gardens apart from grass!
In general, adult dogs are fairly careful about what they eat and fortunately plant poisoning is pretty rare. It is mainly young puppies who are into everything and curious, that are at greatest risk. Some breeds such as Labradors, that tend to have a “see it, eat it” approach to life, may be more likely to be affected. Also, those dogs who have a tendency to eat a lot of grass, could take in other plant species by mistake, which could potentially be toxic.
Even if we are really careful in our own gardens to avoid planting potentially poisonous plants, it is pretty impossible to avoid all such plants in the great outdoors. Our advice is to be aware of the dangers but apply common sense to any situation. We cannot eliminate risk from our lives, but it is always a good idea to be aware of potential dangers and to know what to do, should we need to.
Many plants are toxic rather than deadly and whilst making your pet poorly, the symptoms, if they develop are not going to be fatal. It is useful therefore to have a list of the common species that we should be able to recognise.
List of plants that can be poisonous to dogs
This is not an exhaustive list but includes many of the common plants found in our gardens:
- Allium species
- Amaryllis bulbs
- Asparagus fern
- Daffodil bulbs
- Lily species
- Morning glory
- Rhubarb leaves
- Sweet pea
- Tulip bulbs
Other vegetation hazards
Do not forget other vegetation hazards that your dog may eat which although are not strictly plants, should not be forgotten:
- Mushrooms/ toadstools
- Grapes from garden vines
- Mulch made from cocoa husk
A note on blue green algae
Although you may not think of this as a plant, it is a primitive plant like organism that flourishes in water where there are favourable conditions, (sunny weather, high water temperature, and abundant nutrients). The algae can form massive growths or “blooms” in summer and early autumn, which are particularly concentrated at the edge of the water.
You may come across blue green algae on a day out in the countryside or on the coast. There may be notices up to warn people (and pets) that it is dangerous to swim in the affected water. Some forms of the algae are so toxic, they can cause rapid death so it is really important to keep your dog on a lead. Any contact with such water should be washed off with clean water immediately and the dog taken to a vet as soon as possible.
What to do if you are worried your dog has eaten a poisonous plant
Here is a list of what to do if you see your dog eating something you are worried about, or think what they have eaten may be poisonous:
- Pick a sample of what has been eaten so it can be identified later. Be careful to wash your hands, as it could be toxic to people too.
- If you do not know if/ what your dog has eaten, phone and take them to the vets as soon as possible. If you get them there quick enough, your vet can give them something to make them vomit, so limiting the effect of the poison.
- You can ring the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, who have launched a helpline for pet owners. There is a cost of ￡30-00 for this service, but they will be able to give you advice as to whether what your dog has eaten will be harmful. (Animal Poison Line number is: 01202 509 000)