Many common plants in the UK can be harmful to dogs. In this guide, you can find out about which plants are toxic and what to do if your dog eats a poisonous plant. We'll cover garden plants and flowers, as well as those you and your dog may encounter while out and about.
What plants are poisonous to dogs in the UK?
Many plants that can be found in the UK can be toxic to dogs. How poisonous or dangerous they are can depend on the part of the plant that is digested, and in what amounts. Here are 10 of the most common UK plants that are known to be toxic for dogs:
Every part of the bluebell flower, including the stem and bulb, is poisonous to dogs. This is because of a chemical in the plant called glycoside, which is toxic.
Season: Mid April to late May
Daffodils contain a substance called lycorine, which is what makes them toxic to dogs. Other plants in the same family, such as lilies, also contain lycorine and are toxic. The bulb is the most toxic part of the plant.
Season: February to May
The whole of the foxglove plant is toxic to dogs, as it contains poisons called cardiac glycoside toxins, which affect the heart.
Season: June to September
Rhododendrons are poisonous to dogs due to the neurotoxin grayanotoxin. This affects the nerve cells, which can harm cardiac muscles and the skeletal system.
Season: Late April to June
Though all the yew tree is toxic to dogs when eaten, it is the cones that are the most dangerous. The cones contain the highest concentration of the toxic chemical taxines.
Season: Evergreen foliage; red fruits September to November
No part of the deadly nightshade plant is safe for dogs, but its shiny black berries are the most dangerous part. They contain alkaloids that can damage your dog's nervous system.
Season: June to September (Flowering)
Ivy is poisonous to dogs as it contains the toxic chemicals saponins. The highest concentration occurs in the leaves. Ivy is dangerous when eaten and can also cause skin irritation.
Season: Year round
Laburnum seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant to dogs, but every part of the tree is toxic and dangerous to them. It is the lupine alkaloids in the laburnum plant that make it so toxic for dogs.
Season: May to June (Flowering)
Laurel plants, and the berries in particular, are highly toxic for dogs. They contain grayanotoxin, which is a neurotoxin. Neurological symptoms of laurel poisoning can include tremors or seizures.
Season: September (Berries)
Mistletoe can cause gastrointenstinal problems if consumed by a dog. This is because of the lectins they contain, which are toxic.
Season: Year round (Leaves); October to May (Berries)
Keep alert to other potentially poisonous plants while out walking your dog. There are apps you can download that can help you to identify plants on the go. For example, you could use the Google Lense visual search tool, which comes with the Google app on your smart phone. You can also have a look at a full list of poisonous plants, put together by the Royal Horticultural Society.
What are the symptoms of poisoning?
Common symptoms of poisoning in dogs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Behavioural changes
- Loss of appetite
One or more of these symptoms, and others, can occur at the same time.
Symptoms vary depending on the toxin, so poisoning may not look the same each time it occurs. This is also true of different plants and flowers.
If you have any reason to worry that your dog has consumed something toxic, speak to a vet immediately.
What to do if your dog has eaten a poisonous plant
You must contact a vet immediately if you think your dog has eaten a poisonous plant, as this could be an emergency. Don’t attempt any home remedy or treatment without speaking to a vet first. This includes trying to make your dog vomit.
Take your dog away from wherever the plant is. Make a note of what plant they have consumed. If possible, take a picture of it, especially if you’re not sure of its name. This will help your vet know what treatment is required.
How to stop your dog from eating outdoor plants
If you’ve got dangerous plants in your garden, consider removing them completely. Another option could be to stop your dog being able to reach them, for example by putting up a fence. You can also train them to stay away from certain areas in your garden.
When you’re out and about, keep your dog on a lead in unfamiliar areas where you might not know what plants are around.
Other outdoor hazards for dogs
Toxic plants aren’t the only hazards you should bear in mind. Here are some other things to think about when you are outside with your dog:
This means fertilisers, weed killers and pesticides. If you use these in your garden, make sure your dog is kept inside during and after spraying.
Make sure any compost is kept securely away from anywhere your dog can access. Compost can contain bacteria or mould that could be harmful to your dog if they mistake it for a tasty treat.
Warm, damp conditions can create the perfect environment for fungi to grow. Some fungi types are dangerous for dogs – and humans – if eaten. Keep a look out for this during the Autumn months especially.
Grass seeds are a problem in long grass or when re-seeding your lawn. They’re dangerous for dogs if they become stuck in their coat, skin or ears.
Pet insurance and poisonous plants
It’s important to be ready for anything when it comes to your dog, including illness or accident. Having the right pet insurance can help to give you peace of mind when it comes to vet bills.
At MORE THAN, we offer three cover levels so you can choose the right pet insurance for you.