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Plants To Avoid When Creating a Pet-Safe Garden

When researching the topic of poisonous plants, my first thought was, “do dogs know they shouldn’t eat certain plants?” Is there some secret signal they receive to know to avoid the bad ones, like when they randomly growl at certain dogs when out for a walk but are all tail wags for the next one? Turns out some animals use a combination of instinct, experience, and training to avoid certain foods - just like humans. You can call it instinct or experience when a person figures out it’s best not to repeat dinner at that restaurant with the old-world charm, once you’ve experienced the not so fun aftereffects of their “daily special.” And while some dogs are vigilant about not eating what could harm them, we all know those who will eat ANYTHING. So, for the owners of those dogs especially, I’ve created a list of plants your dog should avoid, both in the house and outdoors. Remember, this is a short list of the most common; for more detailed information, including seasonal and holiday poisons of all types and, most importantly, what to do if your dog does eat any toxic plant, check out

Stay Away From …

  1. Autumn Crocus – There are spring and autumn crocus plants, and neither are good for your dog, but the autumn variety is highly toxic.

  2. Azalea – All parts of this plant are poisonous, and because of their beauty, very easy for curious four-legged friends to find in many neighborhoods.

  3. Cyclamen – An easy-to-grow pop-of-color house plant that can turn deadly if your pet eats it in large amounts.

  4. Daffodil – Don’t we all look for these to mark the first welcome sign of spring? Warning: ingesting any part of these popular flowers can cause serious health problems to man’s best friend.

  5. Dieffenbachia – Another common houseplant, this one can cause respiratory problems associated with swelling, including the upper airways, making it difficult for your dog to breathe.

  6. Kalanchoe – The hundreds of flowers on this indoor plant make it irresistible to owners, but when eaten by your pet, it can be life-threatening.

  7. Lily of the Valley – Who doesn’t love these perfect little bells? But don’t eat them, humans included, because they top the list for levels of poison in plants.

  8. Sago Palm – In warmer climates, you’ll find these lovely plants outside, but they are an ever-popular indoor plant that happens to be very dangerous when eaten.

  9. Tulips and Hyacinths – Arriving at the same time and a personal favorite, toxicity lies in the bulbs – so no digging!

  10. Lilies – There are so many kinds, and some just cause irritation when eaten, but keep your beloved animal away from Tiger, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show varieties as these are especially toxic.

Other dangerous but common outdoor plants easily found while outside walking your dog include:

  • Boxwood

  • Chrysanthemum

  • English ivy

  • Foxglove

  • Hemlock

  • Mistletoe

  • Mushrooms you don't recognize as safe

  • Night Blooming Jasmine

  • Rhododendron

  • Rhubarb

  • Wisteria

  • Yew

Of course our dogs shouldn’t be eating random plants, and if they never did this list would not be important. If you suspect your pup has ingested a poisonous plant, consult your veterinarian immediately for medical advice – in a worst case scenario, the sooner you can get treatment, the better.

The Good Stuff

And now, some good news for all you happy gardeners out there. Here is a list of plants and flowers anyone would love to see, and smell, out their window that also happen to be safe, if your dog insists on tasting them:

Aster, Bee Balm, Crape Myrtle, Creeping Zinnia, Camellia, Coral Bells, Houseleek (hens & chicks), Fuchsia, Petunia, Snap Dragon, Sunflower, Rose, and many more!

Looking for something safe indoors? Pick from any of these:

African Violet, Boston Fern, Christmas Cactus, Cast Iron Plant, Orchid, Palms, Prayer Plant, Spider Plant, Swedish Ivy, Zebra Plant to name a handful. For a more extensive list of hundreds of toxic and nontoxic plants visit:

Happy planting!

Written by: Deanna B

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