Plants that can be toxic for dogs

Cooper and the garden plants. That’s a whole new story of a curious pup mouthing on pretty much everything that grows. He finds them exciting. I find it stressful. As a result he runs around the garden like an insane bunny on speed (something that happens daily at 7AM and 7PM) while trying to nip on the leaves here and there.

Every time it happens, I want to die yet have to get myself together and run along with him sticking my fingers in his tiny mouth and pulling out bits and pieces of greenery. To be fair, it’s not as bad as it sounds. We moved some of the plants away. Coop lost interest in the others. There are days when he completely ignores his favourites. Then there are days when the pup cannot wait to bury his little face in a lavender bush, pull out a few fragrant stems and chew, chew, chew! For him, it’s an adventure, a game, a normal daily activity of discovering the world.

I remind it to myself daily whilst doing my best to distract him from the garden flora with his favourite toys. Still, I am constantly checking every plant and every leaf to make sure my boy is safe and also be aware of the symptoms, so it was good to come across a list of dangerous plants in the Book of Clinical Nutrition for Dogs (yes, being a human nutritionist makes me somewhat of a nutrition geek).

Instead of listing specific names only, it grouped the plants by their families, which, I thought was brilliant because while the common names may differ, the Latin IDs are always the same. Besides, this list makes a lot of sense when it comes to the actual substances that are dangerous for our pooches. In a way, it also gave me a peace of mind by listing the symptoms – lets face it an online source that lists everything as “lethal” isn’t exactly helping whilst knowing that some plants are not immediately life-threatening and the dog can be saved puts you in control of the situation.

Calcium-oxalate-containing plants (Araceae family): Anthurium, Arum, Caladium, Dieffenbachia, Monstera, Philododendron, Schleffera, Begonia

Toxic effect: stinging and irritation of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat, oedema of the mouth and respiratory tract, produce salivation and difficulty swallowing. Occasionally vomiting and diarrhoea.

Soluble oxalate-containing plants: Rheum (rhubarb leaves), Amaranthus, Oxalis (wood sorrel), Calendrinia, Portulaca, Rumex (docks), Digitalis purpurea (foxglove)

Nerium oleander (contains digitalis-type glygosides) highly toxic, dogs (especially puppies) are likely to consume dry leaves

Ricius communis (castor oil plant, especially the seeds containing ricin)

Toxic effect: nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing, diarrhoea with blood, rapid weight loss, heart failure, changes in behaviour, death.

Solanine-containing plants: green (sprouted) potatoes, nightshades (Solanum dulcamara and Solanum nigrum), ornamental pepper, Japanese cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)

Toxic effect: depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation.

Allium species: onion and garlic.

Toxic effect: haemolytic anaemia if eaten in sufficient quantities (15 to 30g per kg or more than 0.5 % of pets body weight – source + source +  source).

Laburnum (Cytisus laburnum or Laburbum anagyroides, all parts)

Toxic effect: vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors

Cyanogenic plants: Nandina, Acacia, Aquilegia, Euphorbia, Hydrangea, Lotus, Nerium oleander, Passiflora, Prunus, Trifolium.

Toxic effect: excitement, salivation, convulsions, racing heart, pale gums, vomiting, death.

Brunfelsia species

Toxic effect: convulsion, neurological disturbances, constipation

Cycads, e.g. seeds of Zamia floridiana

Toxic effect: vomiting and jaundice (yellow eyes and skin is one of the first signs)

Rhododendron & Azalea (grayanotoxin found in Ericacecae family of plants)

Toxic effect: salivation, vomiting, weakness, seizures, slow heart beat

Delphinium (larkspur)

Toxic effect: digestive upset, heart problems, behavioural changes

Tobacco plant (nicotiana tabacum usually ingested in a form of cigarettes)

Toxic effect: depression, salivation, shortness of breath, diarrhoea

Cannabis sativa (marijuana)

Toxic effect: muscle tremors, weakness, “glassy eyes” – often spontaneous recovery within 24 hours

Microcystis aeruginosa & Anabaena flosaquae – blue-green algae and contaminated water, most likely to occur in dogs licking their coat after swimming or drinking contaminated water / plus Oscillatoria species

Toxic effect: vomiting, weakness, muscle tremors, liver failure, paralysis, death.


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