What Plants Are Poisonous for Pets

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Many people have pets that they keep outdoors, or allow outdoors from time to time. One of the biggest concerns with pets that go outside is the risk of them eating poisonous plants.

Some pets that go outside include cats, dogs, and rabbits, but many people also own pet chickens, or livestock animals they consider pets. There are many poisonous plants in our gardens and yards, but what are the real risks?

It is interesting to note that in most cases pets will not eat poisonous plants if you have them around your yard. Even pets that normally eat vegetation will eat around plants that are poisonous. You may even notice this for yourself if you go for a drive in the country and pass a field with livestock. Often times you will see a clump of plants growing with everything around them eaten down – this is typically because the uneaten plants are unpalatable, or poisonous, and the animals know this. So you may not need to panic about what you have in your garden just yet.

  • Some common poisonous plants include:

  • Azalea
  • Buttercup (often in livestock pastures)
  • Castor Bean
  • Fox Gloves
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Marijuana
  • Oak
  • Oleander
  • Potato (leaves, and green potatoes)
  • Rhubarb (leaves)
  • Sago Palm
  • Yew

There are actually more plants that are poisonous, but again, most pets are not likely to eat poisonous plants.

Of the biggest concern are onions, garlic, grapes and some lilies.


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Onions and garlic are something our pets might be drawn to eat. Onions and garlic both have been linked to cause anemia in pets, and if they eat to much at one time, can be fatal. For this reason an owner should monitor their pets to be sure they are not eating any of the onions, or garlic, in the garden, or better yet, do not plant these at all.

Grapes are also toxic in large amounts to dogs. We should keep our grape vines in such a way that dogs cannot get the grapes.

Lilies are toxic and some lilies have an extra risk to cats. It is not the lily itself but the pollen. A cat who brushes up against a lily, or who rests under it, may get pollen on themselves. The problem occurs when the cat innocently licks itself and ingests the pollen, which can be quite fatal. It is the tiger lily and easter lily that are most concerning, and since this is a risk your cat cannot knowingly avoid, these lilies should never be kept in yards where cats frequent, nor should they be brought into homes where cats live.

Plants that are Normally Safe for Pets – Warning

If you grow apples you will note that rabbits love to nibble the branches and leaves. You may cut off a branch and give it to your rabbit and they will love this. The concern being that if you have applied any chemicals to the tree itself, for insects, these could be toxic to your bunny. Apple seeds can be toxic to pets.

Chickens, rabbits, and other caged pets such as hamsters and iguanas, also like dandelion greens. The same concern with them is that they were not treated with any chemicals that could cause problems in the pets themselves.

Many people ask about Lettuce, while lettuce is not poisonous to pets, Romaine lettuce is the only one that should be fed to pets, since the others have no nutritional value and may even have negative calorie.

Keeping Pets Safe from Poisonous Plants

Again, be aware that most pets will not eat poisonous plants, some people even keep birds in aviaries with poisonous plants and the birds never touch them. You may opt not to plant poisonous plants, or to fence them off from your pet. The main concerns are the plants mentioned at the bottom, plants that the pet will not know are risky, and of course the lilies mentioned earlier.

If you have pets do not use any chemicals on the plants in your yard.

Other Reading

Common Household Dangers for Cats

Is your Pet's Flea Medication Killing your Pet


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