A dog dream of spring? 10 toxic spring plants that you need to know about

It's spring outside! Flowers are blooming, the sun shines, and it's time to enjoy a walk with your dog in nature. If you do not know which flowers are toxic to your dog, it is time for some homework. Check out our blog post to make sure you are aware of them all.

Dogs licking a rose bush
Puppies explore the world with their mouth so they're especially at risk nibbling on toxic plants

Not all about spring is a reason to rejoice if you suffer from hay fever or have a dog for that matter. We are here to tell you all about the dark side of spring. Sometimes its not the whole plant but just elements of it that can upset your dogs gastrointestinal system, irritate the respiratory system or worse, cause irregular heartbeats leading to fatality.

As it gets warmer, we tend to spend more time outdoors, which means we need to be mindful that some of the beautiful flowers and plants we enjoy in our gardens or homes for aesthetics can be toxic to our pets.

Here are 10 beautiful spring plants or parts of spring plants that you should avoid and protect your pet from.

1. Daffodils

These yellow or white flowers stand out immediately and can attract especially curious puppies with their bright colours and easy accessibility. Daffodils contain an alkaloid called lycorine which if ingested causes nausea, gastrointestinal issues and even cardiac and respiratory problems.

Depending on dosage, effects can show 30 mins after being chewed on or eaten. Although the bulbs are the most toxic as the lycorine has the highest concentration here, stem, leaves and flower all contain this alkaloid. Daffodils are also toxic to horses and cats.

The symptoms to look out for are the below:

  • Diarrhoea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Hyperventilation

  • Arrhythmia.

Even inhaling the dust can already lead to serious respiratory problems.

Can Daffodils kill dogs? Yes, they can, although its uncommon. If your dog has eaten a Daffodil, call the vet immediately. They will induce vomiting and probably use activated charcoal tablets to bind the toxins so they don’t get absorbed by the body.

2. Foxglove

Foxglove may look innocent, but you can’t get too close! This beautiful blossom is toxic to humans and animals alike. Interestingly, foxglove is also called “dead man’s bells” because its white or purple blossoms resemble the shape of a bell that hangs around dead people’s necks in old paintings.

Dogs and cats should stay clear. The toxins of the plant affect the heart and contain cardiac glycosides toxins. It always depends on what amount has been consumed by your pet and the bodyweight but once chewed on or eaten, the following symptoms are likely:

  • Weakness

  • Collapse

  • Drooling

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Seizures.

Foxglove can be fatal if ingested in larger amounts and you should contact your vet asap if you suspect your dog or cat have eaten any.

Foxglove: Beautiful but can be fatal if eaten in larger amounts by your cat or dog

3. Cyclamen

The cyclamen is a beautiful houseplant, commonly seen in supermarkets. It can be red, white or pink. This plant contains irritating saponsin and is also toxic to pets. When dogs or cats chew on any part of the plant, the saponins can cause them to be drooling, vomiting, and have diarrhoea. Leaves and flowers will only cause mild symptoms that should subside after 24 hrs.

The roots are the hazardous bit and mostly the reason why deadly symptoms can occur. Read this, dog owners: if your pup has a habit of digging, they could cross paths with the roots. If the roots are chewed on and ingested the following symptoms will occur:

  • Abnormal heartbeat

  • Seizures, which can be ultimately fatal

The root in the cyclamen plant has the highest toxicity concentration

4. Tulips

Tulips contain a toxic that we have encountered before. Its glycosides (again) known as tulipalin A, tulipalin B and tuliposide A. The flower has these to protect itself against fungal infections.

The most toxins are concentrated in the bulb. But every part of the flower has some level of toxicity. However, the symptoms of eating the bulb versus nibbling on a leaf will be very different in their severity. In most cases the symptoms will be mild when chewing the leaves.

Serious symptoms can be the below:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Lethargy

  • Increased heart rate (severe)

  • Increased respiration (severe)

  • Difficulty breathing (severe).

Its uncommon for your dog to become seriously sick from tulip leaves or stems. But make sure you monitor your dog and call the vet immediately if you see serious symptoms and if they have eaten the bulb.

Dog sniffing a flower
Dogs are curious in nature and love to explore

5. Hyacinth

If you are concerned that your dog may have been poisoned by hyacinths, there are two ways in which this could have happened. First, they may have dug up dirt containing the bulbs after they were recently planted in your garden. Second, they may have gotten into the bulbs in your house.

The toxin compound in hyacinths are called calcium oxalate crystals. Although the whole plant is toxic, the highest concentration is in the bulbs. The crystals have the shape of little needles and will penetrate the skin in the mouth of your pet which will instantly cause pain. Normally your pooch would stop eating any poisonous amount after that.

Its worth noting that symptoms also depend whether the plant was orally ingested, the dust inhaled or if there has been skin exposure. Symptoms can be the following:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Abnormal breathing

  • Cardiac arrhythmia

  • Convulsions

  • Diarrhoea

  • Drooling

  • Nausea

  • Tremors

  • Increased heart rate

Its uncommon for this plant to be fatal in dogs due to the crystals irritating the mouth already early on. It will still be painful and we don’t like our furry friends being in pain, do we?

Hyacinth have a crystal that instantly causes pain so your pet wouldnt ingest a fatal dose

6. Bluebells

Bluebells are a sight to behold. Every springtime people are flooding to transformed woodlands to admire their beauty.

But if you have a nosey dog, then you better stay clear. All parts of this flower are poisonous. Important to note is that they can be white and pink as well.

Each part of this flower contains glycosides which occur naturally in many plants. If ingested by your dog it will cause symptoms like vomiting, stomach pain, decreased heart rate, tremor, depression and diarrhea. If consumed in large parts, it can lead to heart failure and be fatal.

While it might be tempting to let your furry friend roam the forest in the springtime when bluebells are in full bloom, let them admire them alongside you from afar.

7. Azalea/ Rhododendron

These white, pink- or magenta-coloured bushes are part of most landscaping gardens adding a beautiful pop of colour to any place. Despite their beauty, they’re also toxic to dogs and cats.

All parts of the plant are toxic as they contain Grayanotoxins. It is present in leaves, flowers, nectar and stems. Already 0.2% of your dogs body weight can lead to symptoms. If your dog weighs 13kg, that’s around 2.5 teaspoons. Doesn’t sound that much does it?

Symptoms include:

  • Vomitting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Weakness Drooling

  • Heart failure

  • Tremors

  • Seizures

  • Coma

  • Lethargy

So yes, also rhododendron can kill a dog if the eaten amount is high. If you suspect your dog or cat have ingested the plant, visit the vet immediately. Treatment will be similar as the treatment for daffodil poisoning.

Rhododendron are a common sight in many gardens and are toxic to cats and dogs

8. Buttercups

So usually the buttercup is not a plant common in gardens. But like a weed it grows everywhere in meadows and in fields. Its almost impossible not to encounter it in springtime when its in bloom.

There is some “good” news.

Buttercups are very bitter in taste and therefore your dog shouldn’t eat enough for a fatal poisoning. This does depend however on your dogs health, age and weight as well.

After its chewed, it turns into the compound protoanemonin which can cause skin blisters in mouth and on tongue. These can also become infected and be dangerous later down the line.

In any case, a vet should always be consulted. Typical symptoms or a topical poisoning are the below:

  • Blisters

  • Itching

  • Inflammation

  • Rash

Oral poisoning include:

  • Colic

  • Lethargy

  • Bloody diarrhoea

  • Nausea

  • Tremors

  • Vomiting or seizures

Buttercups in a meadow
Buttercups have a very bitter taste. Dogs would usually not eat are fatal amount

9. Irises

A very elegant flower that brings a level of luxury into any garden. But this popular plant is also considered toxic to dogs.

Although rarely fatal, it can make your dog sick and its something we want to avoid. The primary toxic compound here is irisin. Again mostly concentrated in bulbs and underground stems.

Dogs who love to dig up your garden are at higher risk encountering irisin. Clinical signs of Iris poisoning are the below:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Salivation

  • Drooling

  • Lethargy

If you suspect your dog came in contact with the bulbs, give your vet a call and discuss potential treatment.

Irisin in small dosage won't be fatal. But any pain to your dog should be avoided!

10. Lily of the Valley

Last but not least, the Lily of the Valley. Its one of the most toxic plants to you pet and children!

The Lily of the Valley is a white plant with small bell-shaped hanging flowers. It can be fatal within hours if not treated immediately and ingested in higher dosage.

The Lily of the Valley contains saponins like the cyclamens but also 38 different types of cardenolides (glycosides) that can affect the hearts pumping activity. They whole plant is toxic but the main toxicity is concentrated in the bulbs.

If ingested they can disrupt the heart rate, cause vomiting and diarrhea but also irritate the gastrointestinal system.

Other symptoms include the below:

  • Low blood pressure

  • Tremors

  • Seizures

  • Weakness

  • Collapse

  • Coma.

A little as two leaves of the plant can be fatal to pets and children. Its wise to remove this one safely if its present in your garden.

Lily of the Valley
The Lily of the Valley is one of the most toxic garden spring plants out there

How to avoid poisoning

The majority of dogs are not interested in eating plants that are toxic to them. Their instincts would tell them not to unless their instincts are impaired.

Puppies on the other hand, do not have this kind of life experience yet. They’re curious and experience the world through their mouths. They will eat anything that looks like food or looks interesting, even if it is poisonous.

Some tips of how avoid poisoning in your dog

1. Be aware and vigilant- educate yourself and know the symptoms that can be caused by poisoning

2. Teach the “leave it” command

3. Reduce access to plants- know your garden and remove plants that might be toxic

4. Distract puppies with squeaky toys. They should react quickly to their toys and give you all their attention

dogs in a basket
There is dog safe plants out there that you should consider adding to your garden

What plants are cat and dog safe?

After reading this, I bet you feel like your garden or house will need to be plant-less in order to keep your dog or cat safe. But the truth is, not all plants are poisonous to pets. There are a few safe plants you can use around your home. Below a few examples so you don’t despair:

1. Parlor Palm

2. Ponytail palm

3. African Violet

4. Gloxinia

5. Venus flytrap

6. Polka dot plant

7. Orchids

8. Bromeliad

9. Friendship plant

10. Herbs

11. Prayer Plant

12. Snapdragons

13. Camellias

14. Sunflowers

15. Calendula

16. Roses

17. Spider plant

18. Marigolds

19. Gerbera daisies

The dog is a hoomans best friend, and it is your responsibility to keep them safe. Be aware of the flowers that are toxic to dogs so you can avoid them while walking in nature enjoying spring. We hope this article helped you to gain some knowledge! If you love nature as much as we do and want to remove plastic from your dogs life and yours: Click to our shop page to shop some natural accessories, toys and treats made from hemp.

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Health Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If your dog may have a health problem, you should consult your vet.