Dogs are some of our most curious pets, and if you let them out in the backyard, don't be surprised when their little snouts investigate every little thing that's growing out there. While this may seem like harmless, everyday play, it's important to know which plants are safe for your pets to chew a little, and what plants are dangerous to their health. The following plants are on the no-no list for dogs, so protect your treasured canines from these common garden staples.
Some pets will go years in the vicinity of these plants and never get sick, but if that's been your experience you're probably more lucky than anything else as your dog or cat just hasn't ventured into those plants yet. If you do have these in your yard, be aware of common symptoms of animal poisoning: your cat or dog may be itchy and red if the item is an irritant, or they may have excess drool, difficulty breathing, a fast heart rate, vomiting, or diarrhea. The best way to ensure your pet is safe is to know exactly which items are off-limits.
Chrysanthemums, Foxglove, and Lily-of-the-Valley
These beautiful plants are popular adornments for a garden because of the shade they provide, but make sure your dogs don't get too close! These can be very dangerous to pets, so if you know you're going to include some of these beautiful flowers in your space, consider planting them in hanging baskets where their poisonous properties are out of reach of dogs, or in window boxes high enough that no dog will interact with them.
English Ivy, Morning Glory, and Clematis
Many yards in temperate areas have naturally occurring clematis and morning glory, vines with purple flowers draped over many surfaces. They can be very pretty, but they're also harmful to pets who may want to nibble on them. For the sake of both your pets and your garden, it's worth it to root these out as soon as possible. Left unchecked, clematis tends to grow wildly and encroach on other plants and areas, strangling your gardens' resources. Some consider these vines nothing more than an invasive weed, so with your dog's safety also on the line, don't think twice.
Boxwood and Azaleas
These popular shrubs are great for forming nice hedges, but they may be a better bet for the parts of the yard where your cats and dogs don't go. Azaleas in particular are considered poisonous to both cats and dogs. Many cats and dogs will have the sense to avoid chewing on the hedges, but if you see any symptoms of poisoning after they are near these plants, consider keeping pets away from them permanently.
Daffodil and Autumn Crocus
These popular yard plants are especially bad for dogs, and cats don't do well with the crocus. There are two types of crocus, the spring blooming variety and the autumn crocus. While it's a common misconception that only the autumn blooms are poisonous to dogs, spring crocus is harmful to pets too. Spring crocus can cause gastrointestinal issues in pets such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea and the autumn crocus, which contains the toxic alkaloid colchicine, can be deadly poisonous for dogs.
When you see them coming up in your yard, you can either put barriers between your pets and these plants, or you can keep a sharp eye out for whether they are drawn to try a nibble.
Sago palms are gorgeous, but that appearance comes with a steep price as they cause many different symptoms of poisoning in both dogs and cats when ingested. If you want to keep a potted sago palm, make sure it's kept an in area where your pets won't venture. Sago palms are sometimes kept as houseplants, which makes them especially risky. You may be vigilant enough to keep on eye on your pet's grazing when you're in the yard with them, but not necessarily as attentive when indoors and the houseplant is no fun for your domesticated friends.
These beautiful plants are a popular indoor bulb, but many people plant them outdoors in order to see them bloom year after year. If you have an outdoor cat or a dog that roams near that bed, make sure to keep them away, since Amaryllis are toxic to both animals.
Chives, Garlic, and Onions
These tasty garden edibles are not tasty for dogs! Don't let your canine visit the onion and garlic patch. If possible, keep separate fenced areas for the slow growing roots and for the dog when he's out. The strong aroma of these plants could pique your dogs curiosity, but these plants are bad for him and not worth the risk.
If one or two of these plants are available in your yard, the chances are that your animals will instinctively aim for plants that aren't harmful to them. However, especially with plants that aren't part of the local landscape, your pet could be confused about what they are and not be able to help themselves from investigating them by taking a bite. If you have a dog that really likes to chew things up, this is especially important.
By keeping these plants out of reach of dogs and other pets, or just not planting them in the first place, you can have a fulfilling garden while still protecting your pet's health. More than anything, consider keeping an eye on your pet when they are rooting around in new plants as they go on walks, since they can easily encounter an unfamiliar plant and think it might be a good idea to take a nibble.