Spring Plants your Pet Should be Avoiding

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

As they say, “April showers bring May flowers,” but are they flowers you really want around?

Spring is a beautiful time of year. The weather is warm, there is always a nice breeze, and there are flowers blooming everywhere. It seems to be the perfect time to take your dog on a walk, or to let your cat roam around the backyard. But a nice afternoon outside can turn deadly in a matter of minutes.

Many common flowers and plants that bloom in the spring are poisonous to your pets, and it’s not just plants in your yard you have to be careful of; bouquets you bring into your home might also house a deadly surprise.

The following insights will help you keep your pet healthy and safe during this lovely time of year.

Chihuahua dog with rose isolated on white background

What to Stay Away From

Lily: While a few types are safe, one of the most common flowers consumed by cats in the spring is the lily. Whether it is a tiger lily, stargazer lily, Easter lily, or any other type of lily, you can bet your cat will not be feeling well if they munch down on this spring flower. Cats can be poisoned by all parts of a lily, including the water they are kept in if the flowers are in a vase.

Dogs can also get adverse reactions after eating a lily such as burning and irritation of the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, low intestine convulsions, and kidney failure. The bulbs are the most dangerous part to dogs. It is better to be safe than sorry, so keep lilies out of your house and yard.

If you annually feature lilies in your garden or year, at a minimum have a system in place that keeps your pets away from them.

Aloe Vera: A popular yard plant in Arizona is aloe vera. It seems harmless enough, but can cause vomiting, urine color change, anorexia, depression, and diarrhea when ingested by your pets. If you are inclined to grow aloe, keep it in a pot up and away from where a pet could get it, or keep it fenced off in a portion of the yard where your pet is not allowed to go.

A friend of mine grows her aloe vera in their fenced-off pool area where her dog is not allowed to go.

Azaleas or Rhododendrons: Azaleas, or Rhododendrons as they are sometimes called, are highly toxic to pets. Eating them can cause your pet to vomit, have diarrhea, become depressed, become weak, go into a coma, and die.

If your pets roam your yard with azaleas, remember that they are at risk.

Yarrow: Yarrow is another pretty plant that can harm our furry family members. If your cat or dog eats this flower they may experience diarrhea, vomiting, depression and hyper-salivation.

Tulips: Tulips, although beautiful, are a flower you should leave out of your spring gardening. If your pets eat any part of this plant, but especially the bulb, they will be subject to diarrhea, vomiting, and depression.

Sweet Pea: The sweet pea plant has beautiful flowers on it that smell wonderful, but it is not a wonderful plant for pets to be chowing down on. Your pet will become weak after eating this plant, they will then pace and get lethargic, get seizures, and possibly die if they don’t get medical attention right away.

Oleanders: Oleanders, which I have seen in yards all over my neighborhood, can cause a slow, painful death for any pet that ingests them. Animals can get bloody diarrhea, colic, difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, incoordination, and death from cardiac failure.

Milkweed: Milkweed, although less common in yards than many of the other plants on this list, is highly toxic to pets, and worth mentioning. Vomiting and depression are the first signs your pet has eaten this plant, followed by seizures, difficulty breathing, coma, weak pulse, kidney and liver failure, and ultimately, death.

Lavender: Lavender smells so good and is very useful to humans, but it might be a good idea to not plant it in your yard, or plant it in a pot that is kept where pets cannot reach it. It can cause nausea and vomiting, and make your pets not want to eat.

Lantana: The lantana plant and flower can cause your cat or dog to vomit, have diarrhea and weakness, have trouble breathing, and have possible liver failure if they eat enough.

Hydrangeas: Hydrangeas and Hyacinths both cause diarrhea, vomiting, and depression in pets.

Bird of Paradise: Another plant I see many of in my neighborhood, the Bird of Paradise. If your pet gets ahold of this plant there is sure to be oral irritation, drooling and vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing.

What to Plant

There are a lot of great plant options for you to garden with this spring! From flowers to bushes to trees, there is a safe option for every home with a pet. Many of the flowers can even be plated in pots and grown inside to add a spring feel to your windowsill.

  • Climbing Begonias
  • Boston Fern
  • Camellias
  • Cape Marigold/African Daisy
  • Creosote Bush
  • Common Garden Canna
  • Common Snapdragon
  • Crepe Myrtle
  • Dallas Fern
  • Dwarf Date Palm
  • Dwarf Palm
  • Gloxinia
  • Marigolds
  • Impatience Plant
  • Magnolia Bush
  • Petunias
  • Roses
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnias


When Your Pet Gets Sick

If you pet eats one of the poisonous variety of plants, there are some quick and easy steps to saving their lives. The steps follow:

  1. Take your pet to the emergency animal clinic immediately after they eat the plant.
  2. Follow the Vet’s instructions for follow-up care.

If your pet eats a plant that you’re not sure about, look the plant up if you know its name, and monitor your pet; although it is always a good idea to take them to the vet either way.

The reality is that whether poisonous or not, you and your neighborhood will have a variety of plants that have the potential of being harmful to your pets if they eat them. And if your green thumb demands you plant all varieties, simply being aware of what can be harmful gives you a leg up in knowing what to do if your pet gets sick from eating a certain plant.


Read our previous blog on the dangers of lilies!





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