Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeInspireAnimals & Pets

10 Flowers and plants that are harmful to dogs

10 Flowers and plants that are harmful to dogs

These are the highly toxic plants and flowers that you should steer your dogs clear of while on a walk

Unfortunately, not all plants and flowers are completely harmless, and all animals are naturally curious. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to manage what our furry friends may or may not come into direct contact with while exploring.

In fact, it is revealed that 4.6 million dog owners believe their pet has fallen ill after consuming something poisonous while on a walk. commissioned the following data about plants poisonous to dogs.

While it is difficult to decipher which plants are poisonous, some plants have specific components that are harmful to our pets, such as the leaves and petals. Green leaves have the potential to be more dangerous than fallen or brown ones, while seeds, bulbs, and berries frequently have a higher level of toxicity than stems. Dogs can also quickly unearth poisonous bulbs that have not yet bloomed. 

"4.6 million dog owners believe their pet has fallen ill after consuming something poisonous while on a walk"

Wendy Andrew (“The Pet Loss Lady”), Founder of The Scottish Pet Bereavement Counselling Service commented on the impact toxic flowers and plants can have on owners and caregivers.

“Although I have not encountered many cases while counselling as of yet, I am aware of how common dog poisoning can be as someone that owns a dog walking business. Most are able to be treated quickly when they present symptoms, these symptoms can range from breathing difficulties to digestive issues and, in extreme cases, death. Very often my clients have their feelings of pet loss grief invalidated by those around them, but the death of a companion animal is as valid as any other form of grief regardless of species. Guilt is a huge part in pet bereavement as caregivers tend to feel responsible but, at times, it is out of their control.

“As an experienced caregiver, it is best to walk dogs in rural locations for safety reasons, the risk of toxicity is lower this way. With any dogs I have concerns about foraging, I insist they wear a muzzle for their own protection. It is a simple and potentially life-saving solution. Professional walkers need to have an awareness of these harmful plants and flowers, especially native species such as giant hogweed, hemlock and horse chestnut when out—these are often forgotten.”

In order to maintain the health and happiness of our canines, it is crucial for owners to be able to recognise and identify the most harmful plants when taking their dogs for a walk. 

Highly toxic plants

Flowers and plants harmful to dogs—A dog looking at a mushroom in a forest
Some types of mushroom and fungi can be fatal to dogs. Photo: Michael Workman

1. Mushrooms/fungi

There is a huge variety of fungi in the UK and only 2% of all types are toxic but those that are, if they are ingested, can be fatal to our pets. Many can cause gut irritation leading to diarrhoea and vomiting but some serious problems such as arrhythmias, fits or organ failure can be the worst case scenario. Identifying mushroom types isn’t easy but the best thing to do is make sure your dog avoids them completely to ensure no toxic chemicals reach their system.

2. Giant hogweed

This plant is a risk to both humans and pets, the stem and leaves contain toxins which burns and blisters the skin. The toxin is most concentrated in the sap which is released once the plant has been damaged. Unlike humans, pets have fur protection but areas such as ears, mouth and the belly can be harmed the most. Giant hogweed is extremely uncomfortable and it is best to contact a vet if your pet has had contact with this plant.

3. Ivy

A vine, ivy is common amongst many landscapes but the foliage on certain types is a danger to our furry friends, but luckily not lethal. The chemical it releases is most concentrated in the ivy leaves. Dogs who eat ivy can develop drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea and direct contact can cause skin reactions, conjunctivitis, itchiness and skin rashes. 

Although spring is one of the best times of year to plant bulbs and enjoy blooming flowers, it's important to keep in mind that because bulbs contain more nutrients than leaves or flowers, they pose a risk to your pet.

 4. Hemlock

One of the deadliest plants growing in the UK is poison hemlock. This plant is a class B noxious weed that smells like carrots and once the odour has been released it can attract your dog, which may lead to consumption.

"If your dog eats a small amount of water hemlock leaves it can negatively effect the brain and central nervous system"

If your companion eats even a small amount of water hemlock leaves it can have a negative effect both on the brain and the central nervous system, but in the worst case scenario the lethal plant can be a cause of death for many dogs. 

5. Horse chestnut

This seed, which is frequently referred to as a "conker”, contains a substance called aesculin which is poisonous to pups. The substance can be found in all parts of the horse chestnut tree, including the bark and leaves, and this has the potential to cause serious blockages if swallowed due to the size and shape.

Fortunately, it only occurs in extremely rare but serious cases, so please contact your veterinarian as soon as you suspect your dog may have consumed some conkers. 

Highly toxic flowers

Dog surrounded by a field of tulips
Many beautiful flowers, such as tulips, can be incredibly poisonous for dogs. Photo: Nataba

6. Daffodils 

Representative of rebirth and new beginnings, the spring flower daffodil may look pretty. Unfortunately, however, a daffodil bulb is poisonous as it contains strong alkaline substances which could trigger severe vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and sometimes cardiac arrhythmia among our pets.

In this case, it is best to avoid planting daffodils in your garden and keep an eye out for them during dog walks. 

7. Tulips, amaryllises and hyacinths

Extremely popular flowers in spring, they are not as innocent as you would assume. If they are eaten in large quantities these spring flowers can irritate a dog’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract, thus resulting in drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. In serious cases some may suffer heart problems and breathing difficulties.

Tulips and hyacinths both contain powerful poisons concentrated in the bulb, which pose an extreme danger to animals that love to dig. The best option is to keep these flowers away from free-roaming pets.

8. Rhododendrons and azaleas 

Deceiving to the eye, the pretty pink flowers contain a highly toxic substance. Animals that nibble on a few azaleas or rhododendron leaves won't experience much discomfort, but those that consume significant amounts of the plant may vomit and experience toxic shock. 

Grayanotoxin causes nausea, vomiting and breathing difficulties when consumed. The best thing to do when picking your flower seeds is to opt for pet-friendly ornamental flowering shrubs. 

9. Buttercups 

This bold and bright yellow flower symbolises purity, happiness and friendship, but deep in their core they are poisonous and toxic for dogs to consume.

"Buttercups can cause drooling, vomiting and seizures among our pets, and it is the flower part that contains the highest amount of toxins"

This little ray of brightness if consumed causes drooling, vomiting and seizures among our pets, and it is the actual flower part that contains the highest amount of toxins. You can find these little flowers mostly in fields and meadows.

10. Bluebells

Dog surrounded by bluebells
All varieties of bluebell are toxic to dogs. Photo: Stanislaw Isaak

An ancient woodland plant, the bluebell is poisonous to our furry friends. If ingested, the entire plant can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort which could lead to heartbeat irregularity if a huge amount is consumed.

Often the bulbs are mistaken for spring onions or garlic, but it is important that our pets do not get mesmerised by these bright purple flowers, as all varieties are poisonous. 

Donna Lambert, Founder of A Walk A Day commented on the flowers that can poison our furry friends. 

“My clients trust me with their pet pooches, so it is paramount that while their dogs are in my care, I am vigilant at all times. With the clocks now going forward and spring on its way, this means that plants and flowers that are toxic to dogs will be beginning to grow.

“When you're out and about, keep an eye out for these specific plants to keep your dog safe: oleander, sago palm, azalea, daffodil, lily, tulips, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, amaryllis, philodendron, castor bean, dieffenbachia, lily of the valley, foxglove, yew, English ivy, peace lily, begonia, golden potshots, wisteria, poinsettia, ivy, iris and aloe vera”.

Banner photo: Dog surrounded by daffodils, which are toxic for dogs. Photo: Wavetop

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter 

Pet of the Month banner

*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.


This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit