Pets Please Pass on These Poisonous Plants!

Dog In Bluebell Field

In the South, we love our gardens, but BEWARE! You may be planting poisonous beauties. There are many local plants that are poisonous to your pet. I will focus on the vascular plants found both inside and outside the home.

There are two reliable resources to check out where you can look up any plant found in NC to determine if it is poisonous:

1. Our local NC State University has a website:

2. The ASPCA has a separate toxic-plant list for dogs vs. cats:
Cats –
Dogs –

We love our gardens to have unusual plants, yet it might surprise you how TOXIC the following four Southern plants are:
1. Jimsonweed is one of the more common toxic plants. Symptoms that your pet has ingested it  include: dilated pupils, racing heartbeat, hallucination, delirium, aggressive behavior and possibly coma or seizures.
2. Another toxic-perennial used in landscaping is Foxglove. If ingested, symptoms include: nausea, abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea and possibly even fatal heart problems.
3. The Castor Bean plant has RICIN throughout, and just 3 of its seeds can kill your pet. Symptoms of castor bean poisoning include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, internal bleeding, and kidney and circulation failure
4. Oleander is one of the most toxic in the world. A single ingested oleander leaf can kill a large pet. Ingestion of oleander results in diarrhea, vomiting, intense stomach pain, drowsiness, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, and often, death.

Finally,  take a glance through the lists below. If you have one of these species on your property, make sure it is not easily accessible to your beloved pet!

House Plants you keep indoors:
Castor Bean, Caladium, Dumbcane/Dieffenbachia, Elephant Ear,  English Ivy, Hyacinth, Christmas Holly (mistletoe), Narcissus, Oleander, Peace Lily, Philodendron

Plants found in your flower beds outdoors:
Autumn Crocus, Belladonna (Nightshade), Bleeding Heart, Clematis, Elephant Ear, Foxglove, Holly, Hydrangea, Iris, Larkspur, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lobelia, Morning Glory, Oleander, Peony, Rhododendron, Star of Bethlehem, Wisteria.

Decorate Your Home, But Pet Owners Beware!

Ornamental plants are a great way to dress up the house during the holidays. Pet owners should be aware however, that many of these common plants are poisonous to pets.
Toxicity ranges from mild to severe, and the amount of plant consumed determines how sick a pet may become. In general, gastrointestinal upset is the most common symptom, but if enough plant material is ingested, symptoms can be more severe and a veterinarian may need to be consulted. Naturally curious puppies and kittens are most often at greatest risk for plant poisonings.

Poinsettia Plant

Many people associate the Poinsettia plant with extreme toxicity, but this is not true. The sap of Poinsettias is considered to be mildly toxic, and may cause nausea or vomiting if ingested, but not death.

Mistletoe and Holly

A couple of holiday plants, specifically Mistletoe and Holly are considered to be moderately to severely toxic, and you should call your veterinarian or poison control center immediately for specific advice.

Lilies and Daffodils
Additionally, plant bulb kits featuring Amaryllis and other plants in the lily family, are popular gift items at this time of year. Pet owners should be aware that these plants are extremely toxic for cats, sometimes with severe symptoms. Daffodils are toxic to both dogs and cats, especially the bulbs.

Christmas Tree
Don’t forget about the Christmas tree. Christmas trees are considered to be mildly toxic. The fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth and stomach. The tree needles are not easily digested, possibly causing GI irritation. The amount of trouble depends on how much is consumed.

Stay Safe/ Watch Your Plants and Your Pets

Monitor your pet’s interest in the plants. To be 100% safe, do not bring toxic live plants into your home. If unsure about a plant, look it up to check for toxicity. Monitor your pet’s interest in eating plants, and place plants out of reach.