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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. However, 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 know them all.

Dogs licking a rose bush
Puppies explore the world with their mouth, so they're especially at risk of 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 it's not the whole plant but just elements of it that can upset your dog's gastrointestinal system, irritate the respiratory system, or 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 ten beautiful spring plants or parts of spring plants that you should avoid and protect your pet from.

1. Daffodils toxic to dogs?

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

Depending on the 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 flowers contain this alkaloid. Daffodils are also harmful 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 it's 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. Is Foxglove toxic to dogs?

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 blooms 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 glycoside toxins. It always depends on what amount has been consumed by your pet and the body weight 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 more significant amounts, and you should contact your vet asap if you suspect your dog or cat has eaten any.

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

3. Cyclamen toxic to dogs?

The cyclamen is a beautiful houseplant commonly seen in supermarkets. It can be red, white or pink. Unfortunately, this plant contains irritating saponin 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, vomit, and have diarrhoea. Leaves and flowers will only cause mild symptoms that should subside after 24 hrs.

The roots are the hazardous bit and are mostly 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 seeds 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 toxic to dogs?

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

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.

Severe symptoms can be the below:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Lethargy

  • Increased heart rate (severe)

  • Increased respiration (severe)

  • Difficulty breathing (severe).

It's 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 severe symptoms and if they have eaten the bulb.

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

5. Hyacinth toxic to dogs?

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 being recently planted in your garden. Second, they may have gotten into the bulbs in your house.

The toxin compound in hyacinths is 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 your pet's mouth, which will instantly cause pain. Usually, your pooch would stop eating any poisonous amount after that.

It's worth noting that symptoms also depend on 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

It's uncommon for this plant to be fatal in dogs due to the crystals irritating the mouth already early on. However, 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 wouldn't ingest a fatal dose

6. Bluebells toxic to dogs?

Bluebells are a sight to behold. Every springtime, people flood 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, tremors, depression and diarrhoea. 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 toxic to dogs?

These white, pink- or magenta-coloured bushes are part of most landscaping gardens adding a beautiful pop of colour to any place. But, 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 dog's 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:

  • Vomiting

  • 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 has ingested the plant, visit the vet immediately. Treatment will be similar to the treatment for daffodil poisoning.

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

8. Buttercups toxic to dogs?

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

There is some "good" news.

Buttercups are very bitter in taste, and therefore your dog shouldn't eat enough for fatal poisoning. However, this does depend on your dog's health, age, and weight as well.

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

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

  • Blisters

  • Itching

  • Inflammation

  • Rash

Oral poisoning includes:

  • 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 toxic to dogs?

An exquisite flower that brings a level of luxury to any garden. But this popular plant is also considered toxic to dogs.

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

Dogs who love to dig up your garden are at higher risk of 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 a small dosage won't be fatal. But any pain to your dog should be avoided!

10. Lily of the Valley toxic to dogs?

Last but not least, the Lily of the Valley. It's one of the most toxic plants to your 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 a higher dosage.

The Lily of the Valley contains saponins like the cyclamens and 38 different types of cardenolides (glycosides) that can affect the heart pumping activity. The whole plant is toxic, but the central toxicity is concentrated in the bulbs.

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

Other symptoms include the following: