Beware of common plants that can poison your dog

  • All parts of a foxglove plant can cause cardiac issues in dogs if ingested.

    All parts of a foxglove plant can cause cardiac issues in dogs if ingested. Courtesy of Diana Stoll

By Diana Stoll
On Pets
Posted7/6/2020 1:00 AM

Plants are often chosen based on their beauty and garden performance, but pet owners should also add "poisonous to dogs" on their list of attributes to consider before heading to the garden center.

Many plants commonly found in backyards are toxic to our canine friends. Some may be mildly toxic while others may be dangerous enough to cause death.


These are just a few toxic plants. Be sure to research plants before purchasing, especially if your dog is known to graze in the garden.


Tomato plants contain solanine, which is harmful if eaten in large quantities. Solanine is concentrated in the green parts -- the stems, leaves and in unripe green tomatoes. Observable signs of tomato poisoning include excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, loss of coordination, confusion and tremors or seizures.

Any vegetables in the onion family are toxic. Just as pet owners should not share the chives, garlic, leeks or onions found on their dinner table with their dogs, they should also keep dogs away from them in the garden. Symptoms to watch for if you suspect your dog ate too much of a member of the onion family is excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, muscle weakness and pale gums.


The brilliant red fall color of a burning bush appeals to people, but all parts of this shrub contain alkaloids and cardenolides -- toxic components that have strong laxative effects and can cause cardiac issues.

Thankfully, the berries have a bitter taste so it is unlikely dogs will consider them treats, but even a small amount can cause serious symptoms, including excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, dizziness, an abnormal heart rate, breathing difficulties, dilated pupils, tremors and even loss of consciousness.

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The leaves, flowers and flower buds of hydrangeas are harmful if eaten in large amounts. Unless Fido eats a large amount, symptoms will be very mild. If he feasts on a hydrangea, signs include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and confusion.

Yews are popular evergreens, but all its parts are poisonous if eaten. Even a small amount of its berries can cause harm. Excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle weakness are mild symptoms; difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, tremors or seizures, and coma are severe signs.


Dogs don't often head to perennial borders for a meal, but if you have a puppy who is learning about his world with his mouth as much as his eyes, ears and paws, there are a number of popular perennials that could cause him harm.

All plant parts of foxgloves cause an abnormal heart rhythm, gastrointestinal issues, tremors, and seizures if ingested.

Eating any part of a monkshood will cause heart arrhythmia, frothing at the mouth, muscle weakness, seizures, and paralysis. If Fido eats a Lenten rose, he will drool excessively, vomit, suffer from diarrhea and lethargy.


Hostas contain saponin, a chemical that foams up when mixed with water (or in a dog's stomach), causing a severe stomachache, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dogs who eat parts of a yarrow can also expect an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea along with excessive drooling, lack of appetite and lethargy.

If you suspect your dog has eaten a poisonous plant or observe any symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately. Take a sample of the plant to his appointment so she can positively identify what your dog has ingested. She will administer a number of tests and may take radiographs to, first, rule out other causes and next, to reveal any damage done.

Your vet will determine the best course of treatment, which may include IV fluids, activated charcoal, atropine or other medications, oxygen and/or pumping your dog's stomach.

• Diana Stoll is the Practice Manager at Red Barn Animal Hospital with locations in Hampshire and Gilberts. Visit, or call (847) 683-4788 (Hampshire) or (847) 426-1000 (Gilberts).

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