Which plants are poisonous to pets?

Our pets are curious by nature and at times may be tempted to lick or chew plants and trees. Sadly, not everything they explore in this way is harmless, so it’s important to know which plants could potentially cause problems.

Some plants are perfectly safe for pets, while others may just cause a mild upset tummy. Many, however, can be highly toxic or even life threatening, so being able to identify poisonous plants is really important. It’s also important to know the symptoms of plant poisoning, so you can recognise when there is a problem and get help as soon as possible – even if you didn’t actually see your pet eating the plant.

Not all pets are affected in the same way by toxic plants – a plant may affect one pet very seriously, but cause no symptoms in others. In order to keep your pet safe, it’s best to avoid poisonous plants altogether, regardless of how toxic they are.

With some plants, only certain parts such as the leaves or flowers are dangerous to our pets, but often the entire plant is harmful. Green leaves can be more poisonous than those that are fallen and brown, and seeds, bulbs and berries tend to be more toxic than the stems. Don’t forget that your pet can dig up bulbs and seeds from underground!

As different plants grow and flower at different times of the year, it’s important to be aware of the risks that each season brings. With so many plants, it can be difficult to know which plants can be dangerous for your pet. There’s many different species, making it hard to name every plant that could cause a hazard, so we’ve put together a list with some common poisonous plants that your pet might come across.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t, it’s best to get in touch with your vet straight away, even if you can’t see the plant listed below. They’ll be happy to advise you about any risk to your pet and how urgently they need to be seen.

How do I know if my pet has eaten a poisonous plant?

The most obvious way you may know that your pet has eaten a dangerous plant, is if you catch them eating it. If you see your pet eating a potentially dangerous plant, always call your vet for advice straight away – don’t wait for symptoms to appear.

However, you may not always see your pet eating a poisonous plant, therefore you may not know until they start to show symptoms. Symptoms of plant toxicity or poisoning can include some or all:

As well as plants that are toxic when they’re eaten, some plants are irritant to the skin or mouth, leading to rashes/red skin, ulcers or swelling on the lips, tongue or gums.

The best way to keep your pet safe from toxic plants, is to monitor them when they’re outside as much as possible and to only keep safe plants in your garden.

For more information, or to learn more about what your pet’s symptoms could mean, visit our Pet Health Hub. If you think your pet might need emergency care, contact your vet for help immediately.

Which plants are very dangerous for pets?

Although there are a number of plants that can cause problems for your pets, some are more dangerous than others. Many plants will cause mild problems, such as a stomach upset, especially if your pet eats a lot of them or has a sensitive tummy. However, some can cause much more serious symptoms in your pet – these include: Autumn Crocus, Azalea/Rhododendron, Cotoneaster, Cordyline/Dracaena, Daffodil, Dumbcane, Horse Chestnut, Oak, Peace Lilies, Potato plants and Yew.

There’s also a few plants in particular that can be highly toxic, or even life threatening. For many plants, the amount your pet eats is important – the more your pet swallows, the more likely it is to be toxic. For some highly toxic plants, however, even a small amount can cause problems. If your pet eats a plant you don’t recognise, it’s important to monitor them for symptoms and speak to your vet if you’re concerned.

Highly toxic plants include:

  • Lilies (Lilium species) in cats: All parts of the lily can be highly toxic to cats, and can lead to kidney damage, which sadly can be fatal. If you think your cat may have licked or eaten a lily – including if your cat has been grooming their fur after they’ve been in contact with lily pollen – it’s essential to contact your vet immediately for help.
  • Mushrooms/ Fungi (Many species): There are many species of fungi in the UK and only some are toxic. Many types will cause irritation to the guts with diarrhoea and vomiting, but some can lead to serious or fatal problems, such as arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), fits or organ failure. As identifying the different types of mushrooms can be difficult, it’s best to avoid them completely to make sure your pet doesn’t accidentally eat a toxic variety.
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum): This plant can cause serious problems in both pets and humans. The stems and leaves of the plant contain toxins that can lead to skin burns and blisters, and the toxin is further concentrated in the sap which is released when the plant is damaged or broken. Although pets often have some protection from their fur, hairless or thin furred areas (such as the ears, mouth and belly) can be affected. If the sap is licked off the coat or goes into the eyes, it can cause even more damage. It’s important to contact your vet if you think your pet has come into contact with Giant Hogweed. If you’re worried about yourself, or someone you know, contact your doctor or the NHS for help.

Poisonous plants in spring

An image displaying spring plants that are poisonous to pets

Spring is known as a time for planting bulbs, but it’s important to remember that bulbs often have a higher concentration of nutrients than leaves or flowers, meaning they can be more dangerous for your pet. When organising your garden, don’t forget to make sure that your pet can’t get their paws on any bulbs that you may be planting.

Lots of different species of bulbs can be poisonous, so keep them in areas your pet can’t access – or avoid them completely. If you do decide to plant bulbs, it’s a good idea to cover them with mesh until they’re growing to prevent any curious paws from digging them up!

Plants to avoid:

  • Azalea/Rhododendron (Rhododendron species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Daffodil (Narcissus species)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum): Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Geranium (Pelargonium species)
  • Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Holly (Ilex species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter
  • Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
  • Iris and gladioli (Iridaceae)
  • Ivy (Hedera): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Laburnum (Cytisus alpinus): Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Laurel including Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and other laurels: Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Mistletoe (Viscum album): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Oak (Quercus pedunculata): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Onions and garlic plants (Allium species): All parts of the plant, especially the bulbs, can be toxic. Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea): Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum): Also present in summer.
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus species): Also present in winter
  • Tulip (Tulipa species)
  • Yew (Taxus baccata and related species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.

As spring is also a time when many of us trim our hedges, make sure you’re careful to clear up any cut branches and leaves as some hedgerow plants (such as Cherry Laurel) can be dangerous.

Poisonous plants in summer

An image displaying summer plants that are poisonous to pets

Many of our gardens are in full bloom during the summer, along with harvests of fruit and vegetables. Although a number of these plants are safe for pets, it’s best to keep your pets off your vegetable patch as some plants can be very dangerous. Allium species, such as onions and garlic, are dangerous at all stages, and tomato and potato plants (as well as unripe fruits) can be toxic to your pet.

If you’re planting your autumn bulbs now, don’t forget to keep these away from your pets, too – especially autumn crocus bulbs (Colchicum autumnale), which can be dangerous!

Plants to avoid:

  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
  • Azalea/Rhododendron (Rhododendron species): Also present in autumn and winter.
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium species): Also present in spring.
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum): Also present in spring and autumn.
  • Grape vines (Vitis vinifera): Grapes can be highly toxic to dogs. Also found in autumn.
  • Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Holly (Ilex species): Also present in spring, autumn and winter
  • Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea species): Also present in spring and autumn.
  • Ivy (Hedera species): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Laburnum (Cytisus alpinus): Also present in spring and autumn.
  • Laurel (including Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and other laurels): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Lilies (Lilium species)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium species)
  • Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Mistletoe (Viscum album): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Nightshade (Atropa belladonna, Solanum dulcamara and related species)
  • Oak (Quercus pedunculata): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander): Also present in autumn.
  • Potato plant (Solanum tuberosum): The leaves on potatoes can be toxic. Raw, green or sprouting potatoes can also be harmful.
  • Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea): Also present in spring and autumn. 
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.
  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum): Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to dogs and cats, whether they are cooked or raw. Also present in spring.
  • Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum): Leaves and unripe fruit on tomato plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Yew (Taxus baccata and related species): Also present in spring, autumn and winter.

Poisonous plants in autumn

An image displaying autumn plants that are poisonous to pets

As the season turns and mornings become cooler and crisper, the plants outside begin to change from summer blooms to brown, autumn leaves. During the autumn, many trees will drop their leaves, and although dead leaves can be less toxic, they are much easier for your pet to eat when they’re on the ground.

Autumn is also the time when many plants produce their berries, which can be both tempting and toxic for our furry friends. Fungi also tends to make an appearance, especially in damp areas, so keep an eye out for any mushrooms or toadstools that could tempt your pet!

While we might enjoy playing with conkers and acorns, don’t forget that they can also be a danger for pets – especially if they’re swallowed, as they can cause tummy upsets or even a potentially life-threatening blockage.

Plants to avoid:

  • Amaryllis (Hippeastrum species): Also present in winter.
  • Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
  • Azalea/Rhododendron (Rhododendron species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum): Also present in spring and summer.
  • Grape vines (Vitis vinifera): Grapes can be highly toxic to dogs. Also found in summer.
  • Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Holly (Ilex species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): Look out for chestnuts in autumn which can cause stomach problems or a gut blockage. Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea species): Also present in spring and summer.
  • Ivy (Hedera species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Laburnum (Cytisus alpinus): Also present in spring and summer.
  • Laurel (including Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and other laurels): Also present in spring, summer and winter.
  • Mistletoe (Viscum album): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Mushrooms/fungi (Many species)
  • Oak (Quercus pedunculata): Look out for acorns from Oak trees during the autumn which can cause stomach problems or a gut blockage. Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander): Also present in summer.
  • Onions and garlic plants (Allium species): All parts of the plant, especially the bulbs, can be toxic. Also present in spring and summer.
  • Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea): Also present in spring and summer.
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Yew (Taxus baccata and related species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.

Poisonous plants in winter

An image displaying winter plants that are poisonous to pets

By the time winter comes, many plants lose their leaves and flowers, but there are still evergreen or winter flowering plants that can cause problems for your pet.

Mistletoe and Holly are seasonal favourites, which are often brought into people’s homes or gardens over the festive period. They can pose hazards to your pets, especially if the berries are eaten – so remember to keep them out of paws’ reach!

Some plants, such as amaryllis, can grow indoors as well as outdoors at this time of year, so don’t forget to check our list below if you’re thinking of bringing a new plant into your house.

Plants to avoid:

  • Azalea/Rhododendron (Rhododendron species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Amaryllis (Hippeastrum species): Also present in autumn.
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Holly (Ilex species): Take care to avoid berries in the winter. Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Ivy (Hedera species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Laurel (including Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and other laurel species): Also present in spring, summer and autumn.
  • Mistletoe (Viscum album): Take care to avoid berries in the winter. Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Oak (Quercus pedunculata): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus): Also present in spring.
  • Yew (Taxus baccata and related species): Also present in summer, autumn and winter.

Poisonous house plants

An image displaying indoor plants that are poisonous to pets

House plants are a great way to bring the outdoors into our homes, but unfortunately some of the plants we use to brighten up our houses can be dangerous to our pets.

We recommend only keeping non-toxic plants in your house, but if you do have a plant that could cause problems, make sure it’s kept out of paws’ reach at all times. Don’t forget to check bouquets of flowers, too – especially if they contain lilies!

Plants to avoid:

  • Aloe (Aloe vera)
  • Amaryllis (Hippeastrum species): Also present in autumn.
  • Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia species)
  • Cordyline (Cordyline australis and related species)
  • Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans and related species)
  • Ivy (Hedera species)
  • Lilies (Lilium species)
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron scandens and related species)
  • Sago palm (Cycas revoluta)
  • Yucca (Yucca species)

Hidden plant poisons and hazards

It’s not just poisonous plants that we need to be cautious of – grass seeds, pesticides, weed killer and compost bins can be just as hazardous for our pets.

Grass seeds can be a hidden hazard, as they can become lodged in your pet’s skin, ears or eyes, and can move through the body’s tissues causing serious inflammation or infection.

It’s also important to remember that pesticides or weed killer on plants can be toxic – even if the plant itself is safe. It’s always best to avoid using pesticides or weed killers in your garden. Monitor your pet closely if you’re out and about, to check they’re not encountering anything that could be dangerous.

Don’t forget that compost bins and piles of leaves or grass cuttings can contain harmful bacteria and mould, so it’s important to make sure you’re clearing your garden waste into a secure bin that’s out of paws reach!

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