Pet Safety: 10 Toxic Plants Commonly Found in Gardens


A love for the outdoors and a love for pets are two things that go hand in hand.

Many gardeners and land owners have pets to keep them company outside during walks or gardening sessions.

Unfortunately, some plants that seem harmless to you could be toxic plants for your cat or dog.

Before we get into specifics, there are a few common-sense tips worth mentioning when your pets are near toxic plants. First of all, be aware of your pets training and development. A well-trained pet will know better than to run around in your flower beds. But watch out for young pets like puppies that like to get their mouths on anything and everything while they are teething. Try keeping your pet’s leashes and play areas away from any toxic plants when not under supervision.

Besides that, it’s helpful to be able to recognize toxic plants. Here is a list of common garden favorites that don’t belong in your pets’ bellies! All of the following toxic to dogs, cats and horses.


Who doesn’t love mums? Their unique pompon-like blossoms are not only beautiful but they also have insecticidal properties. They’re not only bad for insects, though.


If your pet ingests a chrysanthemum, look out for

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Incoordination
  • Dermatitis.
  • Safer Alternative – Pentunias

    If you love the look of mums but want a less toxic plant in your yard, see if Petunias grow in your area. Wave petunias especially have a similar cluster-like bloom to mums and are non- toxic plants to cats, dogs, and horses.


    Daffodils are crowd favorite! They’re gorgeous, and it’s such a pleasure to watch them pop up in the spring after you’ve planted the bulbs the previous fall. But while they’re great for gardeners to enjoy,they’re harmful to your pets.


    When ingested, these toxic plants can cause

  • Vomiting
  • Salivation
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions
  • Low blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • If you have a dog that likes to dig, be especially watchful in the fall. The bulbs are the most poisonous part so you want to make sure your dog doesn’t dig up your fall bulbs and eat them up.

    Safer Alternative: Yellow Orchids

    Looking for a non-toxic substitute? Yellow orchids look very similar to daffodils and are a pet-safe alternative!


    Tulips are another bulb flower that can be dangerous to your pets. Many gardeners like to feature tulips because of their colorful varieties of cup-like blossoms. They’re also a favorite flower to cut and feature in arrangements. Much like the daffodil, the bulbs are the most toxic part.


  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation.
  • Safer Alternative: Roses

    There are many good alternative to tulips. Roses are a great alternative, for example. Rose blossoms has a similar goblet shape to tulips and is also a great flower to cut for arrangements.

    Burning Bushes

    Burning bushes are the gardeners dream. They create large bold displays of red color with little effort to create the effect. Despite their beauty, there is some debate among wildlife academics regarding the invasive properties of the bush. Additionally, they’re not so great for your pets if swallowed.


  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Large quantities can cause heart rhythm abnormalities.
  • Safer Alternative: Sweetspire, Hydrangeas, Blueberries

    There are a few plants that would make an excellent replacement for your burning bush. Virginia sweetspire and oakleaf hydrangea are both blooming shrubs that are not poisonous to dogs. They also thrive in many different climates.

    The northern highbush blueberry is another great alternative. In addition to featuring gorgeous red leaves in the fall, they also grow delicious blueberries to eat! In fact, the northern highbush blueberry is the most common commercially grown blueberry in North America.

    Crabapple Trees

    Crabapple trees are much beloved for their blossoms in the spring but can be deadly to pets. Technically this goes for all apple trees, but crabapple trees are the most poisonous of them. The stems, leaves and seeds have amygdalin, which metabolizes into cyanide when eaten. Dead leaves that lay around on the ground are even more toxic than live leaves because the amygdalin is more concentrated. If you do have crabapple trees be sure to keep the foliage off the ground and away from your pets.


    Once chewed and digested, the cyanide can cause

  • Low blood oxygen levels
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Respiratory failure
  • Coma
  • Death.
  • Safer Alternative: Varies

    There are many alternatives to the apple tree, but the type you get varies greatly on what you like in the plant and where you live. Talk to your local tree expert for suggestions that would work in your climate.

    Clematis Vines

    Clematis vines are another favorite among plant lovers. They are a beautiful vine that features stunning purplish-white blossoms. Some gardeners allow these to climb up decorative fences while others like to feature them in bowls so the vines can spill over.


    When ingested, clematis can cause

  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Safer Alternative: Black-Eyed Susans or Climbing Roses

    If you’re looking to substitute the bold look of the flower, then a black eyed susan would be a good choice. If you’re looking for a non-toxic blossoming vine, then a climbing rose would do the trick.


    Azaleas (rhododendrons) are a very common garden plant. They feature beautiful flower clusters in a wide variety of colors. If you have pets, it’s best to keep your azaleas in planters, baskets, or boxes that are off the ground and out of reach for them.


    Azaleas can cause

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation
  • CNS depression
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Death.
  • Safer Alternative: Begonias

    Fortunately, there is a great alternative that is just as common and just as beautiful – begonias! Begonias are non-toxic and they come in many different colors and varieties, just like azaleas.


    Hostas are an attractive leafy plant that gardeners love. Gardeners love that they are shade-tolerant and come in many beautiful varieties. It isn’t just the leaves that are attractive. Hostas feature a tall, stalk-like blossom that earned its nickname: the plant lily.


    When ingested, hostas can cause

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Safer alternative: Hellebores

    Hellebores are a lovely non-toxic substitute. Also known as the Lenten rose, hellebores have beautiful thick leaves a flowers like hostas.

    The list above contains plants that are toxic to dogs, cats and horses, but there are other plants that are toxic to just one species. For example, most lilies are toxic to cats while they are perfectly safe to have around dogs.

    The full list of toxic plants is exhaustive and we could never cover all in 1 blog post. For that reason, you may want to research all the plants in your garden.

    If you’d like to look up the plants in your garden, you can check out the ASPCA’s website.

    Hopefully the toxicity of some plants won’t keep you from enjoying your gardening this spring. If you have any helpful hints for keeping your pets safe, let us know in the comments down below!

    • Nicole Jackson

      Ugh! Lenten roses ARE poisonous. They are in the Ranunculaceae family!!!