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We’ve briefly talked before about the fact that houseplants can be poison for dogs. However, I didn’t get a chance to really dive into this topic with examples and explanations. Being the helpful dog lover that I am, I wanted to return to this topic today. Part of the reason that I talk a lot about what kinds of household things can hurt dogs, is that I’ve seen far too many of my friends doing the midnight dash to the vet because Fido was exposed to something they didn’t even know was a problem. I would hate to think that any dog could die simply because owners didn’t know that a common item was harmful. These 15 plants are common houseplants that dog owners should stay away from:
With indoor herb gardens trendier than ever right now, it’s important to know that certain edible plants are not good for dogs. Eating garlic plants can cause dogs to have blood in their urine, feel weak, have an irregular heart rate, and more. In an extreme case, it can even cause red blood cells to breakdown in their blood. Dogs should not eat garlic, ever, not even in cooked food – but especially not in raw plant form.
Aloe is a very common household plant because it has so many benefits for humans. From a natural sunburn relief to an air purifier, aloe is one of the first plants that indoor gardeners get started with. But for your dog, this plant is the last thing from helpful. There’s a toxic component called saponin that can cause vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, anorexia, and depression in dogs. If you do have an aloe plant, be sure it is kept very high up, away from your pup.
These beautiful flowers have a poisonous toxin inside called cyanogenic glycoside – basically, cyanide. If your dog gets their teeth into these flowers, they could begin vomiting, having diarrhea, or even develop depression. But the worst case scenario is that your dog could also get what is known as cyanide intoxication, which can result in very painful stomach upset.
4. Calla Lily
Also called the peace lily, a calla lily is one of the most toxic lily plants to dogs (that’s right; all lilies are poisonous to dogs in some way!) The calla lily tends to impact the dog’s skin and tongue more than their innards, meaning you’re likely to see a swollen mouth and tongue, a lot of difficulty eating and swallowing, and a lot of excess saliva. Your dog may also vomit if they eat a calla lily.
Refreshing and delicious to us, dangerous to dogs. Mint is another trendy kitchen herb that is pretty easy to grow, so it’s very popular. But a dog who eats mint is likely to suffer diarrhea and vomiting. There is also a chance that a dog’s liver could fail after eating mint, so it’s very important to keep your pup far away from this plant.
Daisies are pretty popular to put in bouquets, especially if it’s a cute spring time bouquet around Mother’s Day. Daisies can be pretty to look at, but when a dog eats a daisy, they are affected by the numerous toxic irritants in the flower. These cause excessive saliva production, vomiting, diarrhea, and dermatitis, all of which can make your dog very ill and uncomfortable.
7. Lace Fern
This plant has a lot of other names, but I’ve seen it inside so many houses now that I just think of it as “that houseplant”. It seems everyone loves the lace fern, emerald feather, sprengeri fern, asparagus fern, plumose fern, shatavari, racemose asparagus, or emerald fern – depending on what you want to call it. A dog who eats part of this plant could have severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. A dog who is around one of these plants long term is likely to develop allergic dermatitis.
Every year when winter rolls around, dog owners hear about how poinsettias are toxic for dogs. But actually, while poinsettias aren’t great for dogs, they aren’t the big scare that they are made out to be. The real holiday culprit is mistletoe. This plant can cause anything from an upset stomach, with vomiting and diarrhea, and difficulty breathing, to a slow heart rate and even cardiovascular collapse. Never let your dog near mistletoe.
Another popular kitchen edible that gardeners have started growing indoors, tomatoes are actually quite dangerous for dogs. The toxin in tomatoes, called solanine, can cause severe stomach upset, drowsiness, depression, confusion, weakness, slow heart rate, excessive drool, and even major behavioral changes. Don’t let your dog have tomatoes in any form.
Another popular bouquet flower, the daffodil itself isn’t toxic; but the bulb of the flower, under the dirt, can be very toxic. If your dog likes to dig and chomps on a daffodil bulb, you may see vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heart beat, tremors, low blood pressure, and even convulsions.
11. Sago Palms
Sago palms aren’t really houseplants, but I assume that someone, somewhere, might try to start a sago palm as a tiny sapling indoors. Even if you just have this in your yard, it’s important to know that this one of the most toxic plants to dogs that exist. Nibbling on part of this plant can lead to a ton of symptoms including: vomiting, bloody feces, diarrhea, yellowing gums, excessive urination, bruising, excessive thirst, uncontrollable bleeding, depression, anxiety behaviors, paralysis, seizures, coma, and even death. As you can see, this plant is a big no-no if you have a dog.
Just like daffodils, the toxin in tulips is actually present in the bulb rather than the flower. But I’ve seen a trend in home décor where tulips are grown from bulbs inside clear glass vases in water lately – it looks really elegant, but it also leaves that poisonous bulb out where a dog could get it. If a dog digests part of the bulb of a tulip, expect to see diarrhea, vomiting, excessive saliva, and depression.
13. Elephant’s Ear
These big, silly-looking plants are a big hit in the home gardening crowd. Don’t ask me why, I’m no style guru. It could be because they are easy to grow and they sometimes have a pretty burst of red at the center of the leaves. At any rate, if a dog nibbles on an elephant’s ear, they are likely to experience an irritated mouth, vomiting, and trouble swallowing.
There are many flowers that are part of the rhododendron family, including azaleas. These flowers have an ingredient called grayanotoxin, which is present in the entire plant. If any of the plant is ingested by a dog, they could experience drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, anorexia, and loss of coordination.
15. Jade Plant
Also known as a rubber plant or Jade tree, a Jade plant is a cute little shelf plant that many homeowners love for its adorable appearance. But this plant can be dangerous for dogs, though we don’t actually know why. But we do know that eating a Jade plant can result in depression and vomiting, so be careful to keep this one well away from your pet.
Have Your Pet and Your Plants Too
If you simply love your plants and don’t want to get rid of them, but you also care about your dog’s safety, there are some ways to make it work. You can find many ways to keep them separate, such as:
Use high, inaccessible shelves for your plants that dogs cannot reach.
Hang your plants from the ceiling. Just be sure that the hangers are not so long that a dog could jump and reach them.
Be sure to keep plant debris – falling leaves and dirt – cleaned up immediately!
Cover the soil in any pots that must be on the ground. This will prevent a dog from getting that digging instinct. Large rocks are a good idea because you’ll still be able to water the plant.
Spread a mixture of crushed dried peppers and ground mustard around in the soil bed. This is an old solution that sounds like a wives’ tale, but it has been shown to work. Dogs aren’t fond of spicy things, and will leave anything that smells like this alone.
Consider putting a cage around tomatoes or flowers. You can easily make one of our chicken wire – just cut a rectangle and wrap it around the plant into a cylinder. Zip tie the ends together and “plant” in the dirt. This won’t be a foolproof solution, but it can be added to other solutions as another layer of protection.
For outside plant, a fence is your best bet. Keep your garden behind a fence that your dogs can’t get into.
These are some pretty good ways to keep your dogs and plants separate. There are many other ideas out there online, such as driving spikes into the garden bed to prevent digging, but that sounds a little cruel to me. I’ve also heard of people burying balloons in their garden, because apparently the smell deters dogs – but I do wonder how the chemical content might affect the soil quality for your plants. I think your best bet is to focus on consistent redirection and a few humane safety deterrents like the ones listed above.
Training Commands for Dogs Who Eat Plants
If your dog has shown interest in eating plants, there are a few essential commands that you should be working on right away. Obviously, “No” will be very important. But in order to keep things more positive, you need to develop some good reinforcement for commands such as “Drop it”, “Leave it”, and “Go to bed” (or “Go to…” whatever place you want them to hang out during the day.) These three commands will be very helpful because you can get your dog to stop chewing on something in their mouth; leave a plant alone that they have been messing with; or leave the area altogether.
In order to make these commands fun for dogs, which will ensure they always respond, you need to make obeying a reward. Work with your dog like this: Every time they drop the training toy, leave a toy alone, or go to bed, offer them a treat and lots of praise. Eventually, they will recognize these activities as good activities that make them happy.
Another option is clicker training. You can train your dog to immediately come to your side, drop something out of their mouth, sit and stay, or whatever you want, with a clicker instead of commands. I really like this StarMark clicker, and use it with Janice and Leroy for similar reasons. Clicker training is good because it’s more consistent than the human brain. You may accidentally blurt out “drop that plant” instead of “drop it”, which your dog may not recognize. Clicks always sound the same.
At the end of the day, a dog is a living creature that you’ve promised to take care of by adopting them. That doesn’t mean you can’t also have your favorite plants, but it does mean that responsible owners need to take extra care to ensure that their plants won’t harm their dogs. Of all these tips, I think my favorite is to simply give the plants a space that is off limits to dogs, if you don’t intend to do away with toxic plants. That way there is never a concern that a dog might find a way to get their paws on a tasty plant treat.