If you love both dogs and gardens, you may be disappointed to learn that your pet and the plants you tend so carefully may not be compatible. While your dog may be ready and willing to destroy your plants, there is a chance that the plants could extract some revenge.
There are thousands upon thousands of plant species on the planet, and hundreds of them are toxic to your dog. Fortunately, most of those are well outside the reach of your pooch, unless you frequently take him for walks in tropical rainforests. However, a few common houseplants can poison your dog, so it is important that you can identify the plants you keep indoors, and that you know their properties. Hyacinth, oleander and daffodil are among flowering plants that are poisonous. Consult the ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List to learn the status of your house plants.
Many plant species planted for beauty in the landscape are poisonous. Dogs usually will show no interest in them, but it's important to be aware of the hazard, and to avoid using them at all where your dog has free run. Lily-of-the-Valley and foxglove are very toxic outdoor garden plants. Lily-of-the-Valley, as well as other lily plants, can cause serious symptoms, including kidney failure, digestive distress and even death, according to the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Iris, bleeding heart, monkshood, rhubarb and larkspur are also off the menu. If you want to use these plants in the landscape, make sure your dog has no access to them. It takes only seconds for your dog to eat enough leaves and stems to get sick.
Some plants also produce fruit or seeds that are not appropriate for your canine connoisseur. Acorns, as well as emerging leaves from oak trees, are known dangers to livestock, but they can hurt your puppy as well. All types of cherry fruit contain several dangerous toxins that your dog should never consume. Keep this in mind if you ever give your dog the opportunity to taste-test some fruit. Seeds of the castor bean plant and rosary pea are dangerous, although the leaves and stems are not. It is a good idea to simply keep the plant away from your dog altogether.
What to do?
If you suspect your dog has eaten a toxic plant, then you need to take immediate action. Watch him, and be prepared to seek medical care if symptoms emerge. The toxin may be serious if your dog begins to display signs of stomach distress, such as vomiting, or if there is a sudden change in his demeanor. Dizziness, muscle spasms and disorientation are signs that your dog may have eaten something bad. Consult a poison control information center -- the ASPCA operates a 24-hour hotline -- and get your dog to a vet as soon as possible. As long as you pay attention and act promptly, there's a good chance your dog will come out of the experience without any impact on long-term health.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.