A dog sniffing around meadow flowers
Dog sniffing around meadow flowers

The plants toxic to dogs and cats you should watch out for this summer

Our pets love exploring and playing outdoors in the warmer weather. But as many plants, shrubs and trees come into bloom and produce fruit in the summer months, it’s important to be aware of the plants toxic to dogs and cats. Although many plants are dangerous to both dogs and cats, dogs are more likely to eat leaves, fruits, stems and bark due to their strong scavenging instinct. Our pet experts give their advice on how to keep your pet safe.

What garden plants are toxic to pets?

Take a look below at our list of poisonous plants for dogs and cats. It’s not exhaustive, but we’ve listed some of the most common and most dangerous garden plants poisonous to dogs and cats to look out for this summer.

Garden plants poisonous to dogs and cats:

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  • Daffodils, snowdrops, tulips, hyacinths, amaryllis, irises and gladioli – all parts of these flowers can be poisonous to pets, but the bulbs are most dangerous, so make sure your dog doesn’t dig them up
  • Geraniums, sweet peas and chrysanthemums – as well as being toxic to pets if ingested, some cats may develop a skin irritation by rubbing up against chrysanthemums
  • Lilies – consuming even small amounts of lilies can cause severe poisoning and kidney failure in cats; this is most likely to happen if your cat licks lily pollen from their fur while cleaning
  • Lily of the valley – these flowers contain a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems and seizures in dogs and cats
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Shrubs poisonous to dogs and cats:

  • Hydrangeas, rhododendrons, nightshade – all parts of these plants are highly toxic to dogs and cats
  • Oleander – consuming even a few leaves can be fatal to dogs and cats
  • Holly – as well as being toxic, the spiky leaves can damage your pet’s throat and stomach if swallowed
A grey cat sitting behind flowers
A grey cat sitting behind flowers

Trees poisonous to pets:

  • Yew – the berries and foliage of yew trees are highly toxic; eating a small number of leaves can be fatal to dogs
  • Laburnum – all parts of this tree are toxic, but especially the seeds
  • Oak – oak leaves can be harmful to pets, and eating acorns can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs
  • Elder – all parts of the elder tree are poisonous to pets, including elderberries

Wild flowers and plants toxic to dogs and cats:

  • Ragwort – even eating a small amount of ragwort can be fatal to dogs and cats
  • Foxgloves – the leaves and seeds of foxgloves are poisonous to dogs, cats and humans, as they contain a toxin that can affect the heart

Ferns poisonous to dogs:

  • Asparagus fern (also known as emerald fern or lace fern) – the berries can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs and cats

Fruit and vegetable plants toxic to dogs and cats:

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  • Apricot – the stems, leaves and pits of apricots contain cyanide, but dogs can eat the fruit
  • Potato – the leaves of potato plants can be toxic to pets, and green or sprouting potatoes can also be harmful
  • Rhubarb – rhubarb leaves are poisonous to dogs and cats, as well as us humans
  • Tomato – the leaves, stems and unripe fruit of tomato plants are toxic to pets
A spaniel peering through a fence A spaniel peering through a fence

Aquatic plants toxic to dogs and cats:

Blue green algae are highly toxic to pets and can often be fatal. What makes it even more dangerous is that it’s not visible to the naked eye unless it clumps together, forming a blue green bloom. Don’t let your dog swim or drink in water that contains, or may contain, blue green algae.

Symptoms of blue green algae poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, confusion, seizures, drooling and breathing difficulties. If you notice these after your pet’s been swimming or drinking water, immediately call your vet and say you’re concerned your dog has symptoms of blue green algae poisoning. Cats are less at risk as they won’t swim in water, but it’s still important to be aware if there is blue green algae in your area.

A kitten playing with a dog
A kitten playing with a dog

How can I tell if my pet has been poisoned?

If your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, some of the most common symptoms of poisoning are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tiredness

If you suspect they’ve ingested any plants toxic to dogs and cats, contact your vet immediately.

Can grasses harm dogs and cats?

Grasses aren’t toxic to dogs and cats, but they can cause problems for pets in the summer months. At this time of the year, grass seeds can get stuck on your pet’s fur as they walk and play outside. Grass seeds are small, but their barbed ends are very sharp and can pierce your pet’s skin, ears and eyes, causing irritation and infections. Sometimes, these seeds can get lodged underneath the skin and travel to other parts of the body, and have to be removed with surgery.

The best way to prevent problems is to regularly check your pet for grass seeds. Look your dog over when you come home from a walk, and check your cat when you’re giving them their daily groom – it’s also a good time to check them for ticks. Pay close attention to your pet’s eyes, ears, nose, armpits and feet – grass seeds often get stuck there. A grass seed in your dog’s paw or your cat’s paw will probably cause them to limp and lick at it – you might also see a painful swelling between their toes. If your pet has long or thick fur, regular trimming and grooming can make it easier to spot grass seeds.

Remove any grass seeds you spot straightaway if they’re in your pet’s coat or on the surface of their skin. Contact your vet if you find a grass seed that’s lodged deeper in your pet’s skin, or in their eyes or ears.

We hope these tips will help you keep your pet safe and sound this summer. If you need any more help, take a look at our advice pages.

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