Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Spring is here! Flowers are blooming as the earth returns to its beautiful, vibrant green state. Folks and their animal companions have begun to shed their layers and appreciate nature once again. This moment of spring is wonderful and magical. However, while you are out there witnessing this beautiful change, it is important to note that not everything is safe, especially the flora that is blossoming around us. There are over 150 common plants that are toxic to our pets! It is important to be mindful and aware of what is around us during this time. We have compiled a list of the five common plants that can harm--and even kill--your furry companion. We hope that this quick identification guide brings you more confidence as you care for your garden this spring!
This plant family is toxic to dogs, and some species within it are even harmful to humans! Atropa belladonna—not to be confused with its cousin Solanum nigrum— is the plant of myth and legend. Colloquially known as deadly nightshade, this plant is easily identified by its purple flowers and solitary black berries—not bunched like its cousin Solanum nigrum. Common nightshades that are found in gardens across North America include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and even peppers. What does this mean? It’s not so much the ripe red tomato or even the golden potato that’s toxic. These fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins that can be included in your dog's diet. It’s more so the leaves and the unripe crop that can be harmful—and in some cases, deadly—to your pet. Symptoms from ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and even respiratory failure. The best way to enjoy these plants in your garden is to gate them or plant them in an area that is inaccessible to your pet.
These luscious, green climbing plants can be seen in gardens across the world. Ivy is commonplace and can be found almost everywhere—from the entrance of the Walmart parking lot to the common pothos found in your best friend’s kitchen. Common varieties include golden pothos, California ivy, English ivy, and devil’s ivy. Symptoms from ingestion can cause mild to severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing/swallowing, burning of the mouth, drooling, and even diarrhea. We recommend keeping this plant out of reach and/or omitting it from your outdoor landscapes.
This plant has many benefits for humans—from digestion to skincare. This self-care plant can be found in window sills to succulent gardens across the globe. No one disputes the benefits of this plant. Aloe Vera in its natural form, however, can be deadly to your dog. Ingestion of the soft, viscous center isn’t the issue. Aloe latex, a bitter, yellow substance that is found underneath the rind can cause vomiting and diarrhea. There are many wholesome, natural pet websites that tout the benefits of aloe in your dog care. We recommend that you check with your veterinarian before utilizing this in your routine.
Shamrocks, Sorrel, or Oxalis
Spring brings out the most vibrant and luscious shamrock patches. Here in California, we tend to see Oxalis pes-caprae a common invasive species from South Africa. Its stem is a bit sour, hence its colloquial name, sourgrass. The yellow flowers can be seen dotting our neighbor's yards. Although this plant is often associated with good luck, this is not the case for our furry companions. Shamrocks and sorrels contain insoluble calcium oxalates. Large consumption can cause several effects, such as: burning in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, tremors, and even kidney failure.
One of the best parts of spring is seeing the dormant tulip bulbs come back to life. Although the vibrant colors and signature petals are very in vogue with the season, this particular common plant is deadly to your pet. The bulbs hold the highest toxicity. Ingestion can cause diarrhea, vomiting, hypersalivation, and even depression.
If you see your pet ingest any of these common plants, we recommend contacting your vet immediately for guidance. Be mindful of the plants around you and always keep an eye on your fur friend.