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Garden Plants That Can Be Toxic to Pets

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cat in a garden

Many of the tasty veggies in your garden are toxic if ingested by your pets or livestock. This is a guide about garden plants that can be toxic to pets.


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Article: Garden Plants That Can Be Toxic to Pets

Black DogAt times it seems as though our pets like gardening just about as much as we do. They love to stay close to us when we are out working outside. And sometimes all that beautiful black dirt is just too irresistible to pass up digging up and rolling around in. Most of us are familiar with at least some of the houseplants that can be harmful to pets, but there are a few plants from the garden that can harm your pets, too.

First Off, I'm Not a Veterinarian

God bless their work, I couldn't do it. This short list of potentially toxic garden plants is not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is just a guide. The plants listed here are commonly grown in vegetable gardens, and do not include the hundreds of potentially toxic trees, shrubs, flowers or houseplants. The toxic effects of these plants vary with the species, age and health of each animal and the time of year, and growth conditions/stages of the plants. Some of the types of pets that may be affected by these plants include; dogs, cats, birds, fish, goats, mice, rabbits, horses and other livestock.

This information has been compiled from a number of credible sources including the ASPCA, the AVMA, the University of Illinois and the Canadian Poisonous Plant Information System. As with all issues regarding the health of your pets, it is best to consult with your veterinarian if you have questions regarding the potential toxicity of a specific plant.

Not So Healthy Veggies

Avocado (fruit and pits): This common food does all kinds of weird things to a number of different animals. Ingesting it causes death to the mammary tissues in goats and heart damage in cattle, mice, rabbits, fish and birds. Birds that ingest even a small amount of avocado should be treated immediately to prevent possible death. Cats and dogs may show signs of intestinal distress and should be watched closely for heart related symptoms.

Onions (and garlic): These two are in the same family and can cause allergic reactions and anemia in livestock, dogs, and especially in cats. Severe poisoning can be fatal.

Potatoes (leaves, flowers, and immature fruits): The entire potato plant contains a toxic substance called glycoalkaloids, but the skin, eyes and sprouts generally develop the most toxic levels. Green colored potatoes should be discarded, and skins and sprouts being composted should be buried and kept away from all domestic pets, livestock and wild animals.

Radishes (leaves and seeds): Can cause the break down of red-blood cells and weight loss in goats and other livestock.

Tomatoes (leaves, flowers and immature fruits): As members of the nightshade family, tomatoes can cause serious heart, nervous system and intestinal problems in cats and dogs. This is especially true of the immature fruit, which becomes less toxic as it ripens.

Potentially Harmful Herbs

Chives: chives have been known to be toxic to horses when leaves are ingested during growth in early spring.

Horseradish: Under normal circumstances, horseradish does not pose a threat to most animals. When ground up for use as a condiment, however, it may cause irritation to their mucous membranes.

Fruits Animals Should Fear

Grapes (including raisins): Grapes and raisins have been known to cause kidney damage and even complete kidney failure in dogs within 24 hours of ingestion. Their effect on cats and other animals are unknown.

Rhubarb (leaves): Causes oral irritation and intestinal and kidney damage in dogs and cats. The leaves are also toxic to pigs and goats.

Pesticides & Herbicides

Exposure to pesticides and herbicides can be extremely toxic to animals that live or exercise in areas near their use-including you! Use organic controls whenever possible, and if you decide to use chemicals, be sure to keep them stored safely away from children and animals.

Visible Symptoms of Plant Poisoning

Visible signs of animal poisoning can include refusal of food, swollen tongue, pale gums or tongue, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, convulsions, and severe or persistent vomiting. As most pet owners know, it is common for dogs and cats to vomit after eating or chewing on plants. Persistent or severe vomiting, however, could be a sign of something more serious.

What to Do

If your pet appears to be showing signs of plant poisoning, consult with your veterinarian immediately. Identify the plant if possible, and bring along a sample of it to give to the veterinarian.

Keeping Pets Out of Harms Way

The garden plants listed above should be kept out of your animals diet. When tying dogs and cats outside, be sure their tether isn't long enough to reach garden plants or make sure they are supervised if roaming free near the garden.

If necessary, erect sufficient fencing to keep animals out of the garden and construct special outdoor play areas for cats and dogs. Bury potentially harmful plants in the compost pile to prevent animals from consuming them.

Additional Sources of Information:

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Sago Palm Plants Toxic to Dogs

I was just about to buy a sago palm, but now I won't since Sampson 2 still chews on everything. They are toxic to dogs.

    By Robyn [366]

    Tip: ASPCA List of Toxic and Non-toxic Plants

    When choosing house and garden plants, many pet owners want to first check to see if they might be toxic to their pets. The ASPCA has a great page on their website that lists both toxic and non-toxic plants and lets you sort by dogs, cats, and horses.

    You can view plant photos, as well as, choose a printable list. Please see the attached link.

    I hope you find this helpful.


      By R Barbara [128]

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      Here are questions related to Garden Plants That Can Be Toxic to Pets.

      Question: Is Clover Poisonous to Dogs?

      Is clover poisonous to my puppies he ate a lot of it at the park today?

      By Dmb from NM


      Most Recent Answer

      By Robin Harrison06/27/2011

      I found another list of poisonous plants to dogs: ... view=article&id=17&Itemid=18
      and clover IS on that list. I would call my vet right away and ask their advice, you just don't want to take any chances!

      Question: Are Hedgeapples Toxic to Dogs?

      Are hedge apples safe for dog's to chew on?

      By J Bauserman from St. Louis, MO

      Question: Plants That Are Harmful To Dogs

      I have 2 Boxers and was wondering what plants to look out for, if they're poisonous or not?

      By Waveman from Hammond, LA


      Most Recent Answer

      By Myrna [13]11/05/2010

      Here are two sites that provide answers to your question: