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Being Plant Aware – What Plant’s are Harmful?

As the weather starts to warm up and we see the colourful spring flowers emerging in our gardens and parks, it is worth reminding ourselves that, what looks like nature at its best, can actually be quite harmful for our beloved furry friends.

Our pets are instinctively curious but not everything they explore is harmless.  Some natural hazards are actually some of our everyday plants and flowers.  If you have a new pet or one that you know has a tendency to eat things they shouldn’t, it may be worth familiarising yourself with the list of poisonous plants below.


All parts of a daffodil are harmful and are worth watching out for as dogs have been known to eat the bulbs.  Sometimes just a small bite of a bulb is enough to kill a small animal.  Even drinking the water that cut daffodils have stood in can make an animal really very ill.

Tulips & Snowdrops

The bulbs are the most toxic part of both these plants but in large quantities, any part of the plant can be toxic.  They contain allergenic lactones that, if swallowed, can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and also depression.


All parts of this common garden plant are poisonous to both cats and dogs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, reduced appetite and depression in animals.  Skin contact with the leaves or broken stems can sometimes result in redness and irritation.

Azalea & Rhododendron

These shrubs are highly poisonous to cats and dogs, even if just a few leaves are eaten.  Ingestion causes nausea, vomiting, depression, difficulty breathing  and can even be fatal to dogs if eaten in large enough quantities.

Hyacinth & Amaryllis

The bulbs of these popular flowers are highly toxic to cats and dogs.  Eating one can lead to drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Iris and Gladioli

Both of these flowers belong to the Iridaceae family and can cause irritation when eaten. All parts of these are toxic but the bulb is most dangerous as it contains a higher concentration of harmful chemicals.


Rheum rhabarbarium, known more commonly as rhubarb, contains soluble calcium oxalate crystals which can cause intense pain and irritation in the mouth and, when absorbed, can cause renal failure in animals.


The ripe black berries themselves are safe, if not advisable, for your dog to eat but the leaves, stems, unripened fruit and the root are all poisonous to dogs (as well as humans) as they contain cyanide, albeit in very small quantities.


Both the leaves and seeds of Foxgloves contain a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, fits and collapsing.


Dogs or cats that consume enough hydrangea leaves, flowers or buds can suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea. In severe cases, hydrangea poisoning can cause lethargy, depression and confusion.

Lily Of The Valley

Lily Of The Valley flowers and leaves, often used in bouquets, are very poisonous to dogs and cats. They contain chemicals that can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, fits and collapsing.


The nightshade plant is a shrub that produces purple flowers.  While this plant is a native plant in many areas, it is extremely toxic to your dog and cat.


All lilies are potentially poisonous, especially to cats.  Eating or chewing the leaves, stems or flower heads can poison pets.  Even the pollen can be harmful – cats may lick this off their fur after brushing against the flower head.  Always make sure lilies in the house are kept in a place where your cat cannot access them.


Tomatoes are in the nightshade family of vegetables, which means the plants contain a number of components that are harmful to animals.  The ripened fruit are considered non-toxic but ingestion of green fruit and other parts of the plant can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, weakness and confusion.


Nearly all parts of the plant are harmful, including dried clippings. Ingesting just a small amount of leaves can kill a dog because it contains taxines, which are highly poisonous to dogs and other small animals.

This is not an exhaustive list of poisonous plants so if you know or suspect that your pet has eaten anything they shouldn’t have and you are at all worried about them, please get in touch with your vet straight away. They will be happy to advise you of the level of risk to your pet and how urgent it is that they are seen. 

Please contact us on:

St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799


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