poisonous plants

PET HEALTH CORNER: Poisonous plants and your pet

This is an older blog, but a great one for this time of year! Learn all about protecting your pet from poisonous plants and be prepared for spring.

Protecting your Pet from Poisonous Plants

plants, poisonous plantsMany of us have plants in our homes, adding colour and life into otherwise stagnant environments. But some of these beautiful living things can cause serious damage to our pets – and you need to know which ones.
Dave Wilson, director of Shelter Health and Wellness for the Ontario SPCA and retired vet says pet proofing your home is very important when it comes to plants.

There are two areas where Wilson says you need to be looking for toxic plants: indoors and outdoors. When it comes to indoors he says there are two categories of plants to look out for.

plants, poisonous plants
Peace Lily, photo by Ernst Gügel


“What’s there all the time, and what’s there at special times of the year, like holidays,” says Wilson.

Wilson says if you only have dogs, the solution can be as simple as keeping the plants out of jumping-reach. For cats, he says you either can’t have the plants in the house, or they need to be in a room that is inaccessible to your cats.

“Cats are vertical creatures, they like to go up and down,” he says.

The holidays can brings all new plants into the house which may be dangerous for your pets. Wilson says it’s best to encourage guests to bring pet-friendly gifts if they wanted to bring a poinsettia, or lily around the holidays.

Though Wilson says Poinsettias and other plants aren’t poisonous for your animals, he says they can still cause stomach upset, and even vomiting.

“The damage to your pet,” he says, “can happen so quickly, and all of this stuff can happen when you’re not even there.”

He says it’s similar to household cleaners. If you wouldn’t leave cleaners open and out when you’re not supervising them, then don’t leave any other poisonous substance around.

It’s important to remember, Wilson says, your pets are only doing what’s natural for them. He says their instincts are to dig and explore their environment.

“It’s not that the animal’s doing anything bad, from their viewpoint they’re just doing something that comes naturally. It’s our responsibility not to present that opportunity to them,” says Wilson.

He says if there’s any doubt at all your pet has been in contact with a poisonous plant, call your vet or emergency hospital to at least talk to them and hear their advice.

“A lot of times with some of the toxins, the poisons, that are in these plants, and the damage that they can cause to some of the internal organs,” he says, “you don’t get a chance to wait and see, cause some of the damage is irreversible.”

See below a list of 17 most common poisonous plants:

Castor Bean, photo by Ralf Warner. poisonous plants
Castor Bean, photo by Ralf Warner.

1. Lilies

2. Marijuana

3. Sago Palm

4. Tulip/Narcissus bulbs

5. Azalea/Rhododendron

6. Oleander

7. Castor Bean

8. Cyclamen

9. Kalanchoe

Chrysanthemum, photo by KenPei, poisonous plants
Chrysanthemum, photo by KenPei

10. Yew

11. Amaryllis

12. Autumn Crocus

13. Chrysanthemum

14. English Ivy

15. Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)

16. Pothos

17. Schefflera

For more details on poisonous plants, see Ontario SPCA’s fact sheet: Poisonous Plants & Flowers.

To view a more detailed list of toxic and nontoxic plants, please consult the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants fact sheet.

May 12, 2017
by Emily Cook