Dog Health, Pet Tips

Common Garden Plants Can Be Toxic to Pets

August 18, 2022

plants toxic to pets

For the last couple of years, our gardens have been completely bombing.  This year, I tried to do some container gardening.  I thought that keeping my plants in containers close to the house would protect them.  Nope!  The deer still visited at some point and ate almost everything I was growing.  If you planted a garden this year, hopefully yours was a bit more successful, and you’ve been able to enjoy the fruits (vegetables and flowers too) of your labors.

If you’re anything like me, you probably share your fresh garden bounty with your pets.  Especially if, like me, you have a pet highly skilled in the art of begging (those eyes!).  Fresh fruits and vegetables can be delicious, low calorie snacks for many types of pets.  Home grown garden goodies are extra healthy if they were grown organically.  It’s important, though, to remember that not all types of fruits and veggies should be shared with your pet.  And while flowers are beautiful, some can be toxic.

The ASPCA has a great list of plants that are toxic to dogs, cats, and/or horses.  If you have other types of pets, it’s usually pretty easy to find basic lists of toxic plants by searching online.  I wish I could include a list here, of either safe or dangerous garden plants.  But the list would be massive, and even then I’m sure there’d be lots of plants that I’d forget.

plants toxic to petsIf you don’t know for sure whether or not a plant is safe, it’s always best to avoid offering it to your pet until you can do more research.  If you don’t want to do the research yourself, your pet’s veterinarian should be able to help you.  Never assume that just because a plant is safe for humans, or even for other types of pets, that it will be safe for all species.  For example, small pets such as rabbits can safely enjoy grapes.  However, grapes are toxic to dogs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because part of a plant is safe, doesn’t mean that the entire plant is.  For example, like people, many dogs enjoy red tomatoes.  But did you know that green tomatoes, as well as the leaves and stems of tomato plants, contain a compound called tomatine?  Tomatine has anti-fungal properties that help to protect the tomato plants.  It is, however, toxic, and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, weakness, and ataxia (neurological symptoms) if ingested in large enough quantities.

I don’t think many pet owners would purposely feed their pets flowers from their garden.  It’s still important to note that many kinds of common garden flowers, such as Morning Glories, Tulips, and Daffodils, can be toxic to pets.  If you’d like to plant types of flowers that can be toxic to animals, it’s probably best to grow them in areas your pet can’t access.

Not all people realize that fruits and vegetables can actually contain a high amount of natural sugars.  Although humans can usually handle these sugars without any issues, this is not always true for pets.  Sugary fruits or vegetables can cause gastrointestinal distress in pets, if fed in excess.

Some types of pets, such as dogs, cannot digest raw plant matter well.  Your dog can still enjoy an occasional fruit/veggie snack, however if you want him/her to get more nutrition out of plant material you should try cooking or mashing/blending the food first.  This breaks down the plant’s cell walls, making them easier for carnivores to digest.

Comment below!  Is your garden successful this year?  What types of home grown produce do you like to share with your pet?

plants toxic to pets

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  • Reply Petluxury October 29, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Such a informative post, I really appreciate this info because lots of pet lovers don’t know about how to care their beloved pets.

  • Reply Chloe September 9, 2020 at 10:51 am

    I’m always looking up vegetables and fruits figuring out my dogs can eat. I’m not much of a gardener, but my dogs LOVE spinach, summer squash, brussel sprouts, green beans, banana, watermelon, and peaches! Thank you for reminding me that plants in the yard are important to know about too!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack September 16, 2020 at 10:07 pm

      I’m the same way! I don’t have the best memory, and am always looking foods up to double check that they’re dog friendly before I feed them. I think a lot of people consider what food plants are safe but overlook ornamental or wild plants, which can be dangerous too.

  • Reply Tiffany September 9, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    Loved this post! This was my second year gardening and it was slightly more successful than last year. Hoping for an even better year next year! I lost a few veggies to bugs too – it’s such a bummer when I see a tomato almost ready to be picked only to find it damaged by a bug the next day. I found a pet friendly pesticide using essential oils, but I’m still always apprehensive about stuff life that.
    So glad you shared that just because a veggie might be safe that doesn’t mean the entire plant is. I tried to keep everything in my garden pet-safe this year. Next year I may try my hand at some garlic or onions if I can find a place outside my fence line to plant them. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack September 16, 2020 at 10:09 pm

      I’m hoping the same thing – that with more experience our garden will get better and better. I’ll have to research pet friendly pesticides before next season, although we had issues with other critters too, mostly deer. Happy gardening, and better luck next year!

  • Reply Britt K September 11, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    We didn’t even end up planting our garden this year – which was odd for us. We generally grow a lot of different fruits and vegetables in a large backyard garden as well as container gardening around the back deck. With everything going on, we just didn’t have the opportunity to dig into it the way we would have liked. Oh well, there’s always next year!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack September 16, 2020 at 10:11 pm

      I’ll admit we kind of slacked off with our garden too. I think if we had put more effort into it we would have had better results, but who knows. Hopefully we have better luck next year. I’m planning on putting more effort into it, at least.

  • Reply Barbara Rivers September 11, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    You’re so right, dogs lack the enzyme that breaks down plant cell walls!

    My pup loves fresh watermelon and bananas – neither grow in our yard, but a friend has a phenomenal garden and recently gifted us a huge watermelon! It was shared by all, pup included 🙂

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack September 16, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      My Kitsune enjoys bananas and watermelon too. Hey that’s an awesome deal, get fresh fruit without having to do all the work of growing it yourself. 🙂

  • Reply Ruth Epstein September 14, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Fantastic information and although I do not have a garden it is so important to know thanks

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack September 16, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      For sure! Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, it’s important to pay attention around parks, etc, too.

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