Pet First
Isn’t That Poisonous to Dogs?
Jackie Valentine

A dog is an inquisitive character. There is nothing quite as exciting as sniffing, and possibly tasting, every grass, groundcover, shrub and flower he comes in contact with during a trip around the block. But this tried and true method of keeping up with “canine current events” can get a dog into trouble if we’re not careful. Many of the plants that he will encounter during one of these daily strolls are poisonous to dogs.

Similarly, even though it seems that most poisonous plants are found outside, many indoor dogs have been known to nibble on Mom’s favorite houseplant. Why? Well, the dog that chews on houseplants is usually just bored. Unfortunately, what seemed like a good way to pass the time can end up making him really sick.

What will his symptoms be and what should I do?

Oftentimes we are not around when our dogs ingest the poisonous substance, so it may be difficult to tell what has happened. However, if your dog is acting strange and you can’t figure any other reason for the change in his behavior, it is best to call the National Animal Poison Control Center (the NAPC) right away. Have the plant name or the description of the plant available when you call. Some of the symptoms that he may exhibit are vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal urine (color, smell, frequency, consistency, quantity) excessive salivation or weakness, hallucinations, coma, or seizures. The number for NAPC is 1-800-548-2423 or 1-900-680-0000 (The NAPC will charge a fee for Pet First Aid advice).

The NAPC will be able to tell you what you should do to help your dog. This may include getting the dog to the veterinarian or simply giving the dog syrup of ipecac. Another thing that may be suggested to help the dog is hydrogen peroxide. So, here are two more things that you should add to your doggie survival kit for those emergency times: syrup of ipecac and hydrogen peroxide. A word of warning here: not all plant substances require the same antidote. Do not give anything to your dog until you have called the veterinarian or the NAPC.

Any suggestions to keep “nibblers” from nibbling?

A dog that makes a habit of chewing on things may actually need more fiber in his diet. Adding a few bran flakes to the dog’s food can help with this, or it may help to change his food to one with a higher vegetable fiber content. Also, if you walk your dog in the evening, be sure to take a flashlight with you. Not only will you both be safer, you will be able to supervise his choice of munchies.

For dogs that are usually inside and can’t leave the houseplants alone, the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is apropos here. Place them out of his reach, and that problem is solved. Also, when you purchase new plants, keep the plant toxicity in mind. This is not to say that you shouldn’t buy a plant if it could hurt your dog, but being aware of which ones the dog needs to be protected from can be very helpful in landscaping choices or houseplant placement.

We have listed some of the most common plants that are toxic to dogs and some that are non-toxic. If you would like a more complete list of plants there are several good websites with a more comprehensive list. One of these is the Humane Society of the United States website, www.hsus.org.

Toxic Plants

Aloe, Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Bird of Paradise, Caladium, Calla Lily, Daffodil, Day Lily, Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane, Elephant Ears, English Ivy, Foxglove, Gladiolas, Holly, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Iris, Kalanchoe, Lily of the Valley, Marijuana, Mistletoe, Morning Glory, Mother-in-Law, Narcissus, Nightshade, Oleander, Onion, Peace Lily, Poinsettia, Philodendron, Rhododendron, Sago Palm, Schefflera, Stargazer Lily, Tomato (green parts only), Tulip, Yew

Non-toxic Plants

Acorn Summer Squash, African Violet, Air Plant, Baby Rubber Plant, Bamboo Palm, Banana Squash, Basil, Begonia, Bottlebrush, Cactus (most), Camellia, Carob, Coriander, Crepe Myrtle, Dandelions, Dill, Elephant Ear Begonia, Orchid, Forsythia, Garden Marigold, Garden Snapdragon, Gardenia, Gerbera Daisy, Hens and Chickens, Hollyhock, Jacob’s Ladder, Jasmine, Mint, Moss phlox, Oregano, Peppermint, Petunia, Rose, Sage, Salvia, Spearmint, Spider Plant