How Does Your Garden Grow?
Many plants have poisonous parts including roots, bulbs, corm, rhizomes, leaves, flowers and pollen. Many are common garden and house plants, so care should always be taken when choosing plants, especially if you have a puppy. Cocoa garden mulch contains theobramine which is the toxin also in chocolate that can be fatal for dogs if ingested.
Pet insurers MORE TH>N surveyed 2,000 cat and dog owners in the UK and found that 8% of their pets had ingested poisonous plants or flowers. 43% needed urgent veterinary care and 15% died.
31% of owners do not know if they have poisonous plants in their homes and 80% of people do not know which wild flowers are poisonous for cats and dogs.
MORE TH>N is campaigning for plant producers, manufacturers of garden products and retailers to provide clearer labelling if plants and seeds are harmful for cats and dogs. See our Campaigns section for details.
A few common garden plants that are toxic for dogs are outlined below:
7 Day lily
8 Lily of the valley
12 Morning Glory
15 Asparagus fern
16 Sweet pea
The above list is far from exhaustive. There are seasonal dangers to look out for, including when out walking. All bulbs are poisonous so care should be taken in the spring and autumn when they are being planted and appear in parks and gardens. Dogs may rub against plants and then ingest pollen or ingest plants in the summer when out and about. Autumn brings the dangers of fungi and acorns. Winter brings the danger of berries such as yew and holly.
It is possible to plant a dog-friendly garden. Poisonous plants can be placed out of reach in hanging baskets or fenced off. Dogs should always be supervised in the garden. Be careful of berries, flowers and fruits that may drop and be eaten.
Classical mythology does have one happy tale to tell: Tyrian purple was made from the mucous of sea snails (muricidae), more commonly called murex. A huge amount was required to yield even a small amount of dye. Hercules is supposed to have discovered it – or rather, his dog did after picking up murex on a beach and developing purple drool. One hopes that his dog survived the experience.
If you suspect that your dog has been poisoned by a plant, contact your vet immediately and, if possible, take a sample of the plant that you think has caused a problem when you visit.