If you share your home with dogs, cats, and other pets, you’ll probably do anything to keep them safe. And that includes learning about flowers that are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. While you may want to avoid the topic of toxic plants, learning about flowers that are toxic to pets will help you protect your pets. We’ll cover 30 common flowers that are toxic to pets, explain potential symptoms to watch out for, and introduce tips to keep your pets safe.
Why Some Flowers Are Toxic to Pets
Plants can be toxic to pets for a wide variety of reasons.
Some plants contain insoluble irritating substances like calcium oxalate crystals and crystalline alkaloids like lycorine. When pets eat these plants, they may experience symptoms like vomiting, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.
Other plants contain various compounds that can interrupt cell communication and function, leading to symptoms like irregular heartbeat, seizures, and even death. Understanding why a specific plant is toxic can help you become familiar with possible symptoms your pet may experience.
It’s important to note that both the specific plant and the amount of plant your pet eats can affect their symptoms. Pets are more likely to experience extreme symptoms when they consume large quantities of plants.
Popular Flowers That Can Be Toxic to Pets:
While many plants and flowers can be toxic to pets, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular toxic flowers. Many of the plants on this list are toxic to both dogs, cats, and other mammals, but some only harm cats or dogs.
1. Amaryllis (Amaryllis spp.)
The amaryllis is a popular bulb flower, especially during the winter. However, the plants contain toxic crystalline alkaloids, including lycorine.
When cats, dogs, and other mammals ingest these compounds, they begin to experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as they work to expel the toxins. Generally, amaryllis is not fatal to pets but can be lethal if cats or dogs consume large quantities.
2. Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
As the name suggests, the autumn crocus is a fall-blooming plant that produces crocus-like flowers. However, the plant is not a true crocus.
The autumn crocus is a popular flower toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets due to its toxic alkaloids, including colchicine.
These toxins can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, pets may experience shock, organ damage, and poor appetite or anemia associated with bone marrow suppression.
3. Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)
Azaleas are commonly planted as landscaping shrubs, but before you add one of these to your garden, you should know they are toxic to mammals.
These plants contain grayanotoxins in their flowers and leaves. These toxins can bind to receptor sites in sodium channels, causing issues with cell communication.
Resulting symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.
4. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
Although they’re beautiful, bleeding hearts can cause harm to both humans and pets. These plants, and the related Dutchman’s breeches and squirrel corn, contain isoquinoline alkaloids.
These compounds can irritate the gastrointestinal tract and stimulate the central nervous system. Therefore, potential toxic symptoms of bleeding heart ingestion include vomiting, upset stomach, lethargy, unstable gait, and seizures.
5. Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Bluebells light up landscapes with their cheerful blue flowers, but not everything about these plants is nice. The plants contain cardiac glycosides that are harmful if ingested.
Potential symptoms include depression, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased or decreased heart rate. While all parts of the bluebell plant can be toxic, the bulbs are of special concern.
6. Buttercup (Ranunculus spp.)
All species of buttercup plants contain the compound ranunculin. When the plant is macerated by crushing or chewing, the ranunculin is converted into the toxin protoanemonin.
Protoanemonin is an irritant that can lead to symptoms including inflamed gums and mouth, increased salivation, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause ulcers in the mouth and digestive tract, which can lead to bloody stool.
7. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum spp.)
Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are popular fall decorations and cut flowers. However, these popular flowers can be toxic and contain numerous irritating compounds, including sesquiterpene, lactones, and pyrethrins.
When pets ingest chrysanthemum leaves or flowers, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and increased salivation. Other potential symptoms include irritated eyes and noses and a lack of coordination.
8. Clematis (Clematis spp.)
Clematis vines and flowers contain an irritant glycoside known as protoanemonin. This compound can irritate pets’ mouths and also harm their gastrointestinal tracts.
Some possible symptoms of clematis ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, swollen mouth, excessive salvation or drooling, and upset stomach. Blood in the vomit or stool is also possible due to gastrointestinal tract irritation.
9. Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp.)
Cyclamen is a popular flowering houseplant, especially during the winter months. However, this plant contains terpenoid saponins that are toxic to pets.
If your pet eats a cyclamen flower or plant, they may experience heavy salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, pets may develop an abnormal hate rate and begin experiencing seizures. These severe symptoms are most likely to occur when pets consume large amounts of the plant’s tubers.
10. Daffodil (Narcissus spp.)
Daffodils, especially daffodil bulbs, are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. These plants contain dangerous alkaloids, including lycorine.
When pets ingest daffodils, they may experience vomiting, increased salivation, and diarrhea. If pets consume large amounts of bulbs, they may develop more severe symptoms like low blood pressure, tremors, and abnormal heart rate.
11. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Foxgloves are popular biennial plants due to their beautiful flower spikes.
Foxglove plants contain cardiac glycosides that can cause digestive distress in the form of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pets who ingest the plants may also appear weak or tired and have a decreased heart rate.
In severe cases, animals may experience heart failure and death. Therefore, you should keep your pets away from foxglove plants.
12. Gloriosa Lily (Gloriosa superba)
Also known as the cat’s claw and flame lily, the gloriosa lily is toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets. All parts of the plant contain the dangerous compound colchicine.
When pets ingest tiny amounts of the plant, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and an upset stomach. If pets eat larger amounts of plant material, they can develop more severe symptoms, including shock, kidney failure, and even death.
13. Hyacinth (Hyacinthus spp.)
Hyacinths contain toxic alkaloids that can cause harm if eaten. Symptoms of hyacinth ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, low energy, and depression.
Like many bulb flowers, the bulbs are the most toxic part of the plant. That means you should keep pets away from the raw bulbs as well as growing plants.
14. Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
Hydrangea plants contain cyanogenic glycosides that can adversely affect dogs and cats. The most common symptoms of hydrangea ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs of gastrointestinal distress.
Cyanogenic glycosides can break down and release hydrogen cyanide. However, this is rare, and exposure symptoms mainly relate to digestional irritation.
15. Iris (Iris spp.)
Irises are toxic to pets due to the presence of pentacyclic terpenoids. Iris rhizomes contain the largest concentrations of these compounds, so you should take note if your pets decide to start digging around the base of your irises.
If your pet ingests a large enough quantity of irises, it may develop vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, or lethargy.
16. Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp.)
Kalanchoe plants contain bufadienolides, a group of compounds also found in toad venom. These compounds are considered cytotoxins, meaning they can damage cells.
The most common symptoms of kalanchoe ingestion are vomiting and diarrhea. However, dogs and cats can sometimes develop an irregular heartbeat.
17. Lilies (Lilium spp.)
While lilies are non-toxic to dogs, they’re known as some of the most dangerous plants for cats. If cats ingest lily flowers or plants, they may experience major kidney damage and even kidney failure.
Scientists still aren’t sure exactly what causes these kidney issues, but it’s clear that all parts of lilies are extremely dangerous to cats.
18. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
Although beautiful and fragrant, Lily of the Valley plants contain cardenolides that are toxic to both dogs and cats. Convallatoxin is notable due to its extreme toxicity.
If your pet ingests this plant, vomiting may be the first symptom, but more serious symptoms may also occur. Irregular heartbeat, seizures, and even cardiac arrest are all possible. Therefore, you should contact your vet ASAP if your pet eats any part of this plant.
19. Lobelia (Lobelia spp.)
Lobelia species, including the popular cardinal flower, are toxic to both dogs and cats. The plants contain the compound lobeline. While this compound can be used in small doses to help people stop smoking, it is harmful to pets.
If your pet eats part of a lobelia plant, they may experience symptoms including vomiting, depression, diarrhea, increased salivation, and irregular heart rate.
20. Monkshood (Aconitum spp.)
Monkshood plants contain toxic compounds to dogs, cats, and humans. Aconitine is perhaps the most dangerous of these toxins.
Aconitine can harm both the cardiac and nervous systems due to interference with sodium channels. Possible symptoms include irregular heart rhythm, increased or decreased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, and tingling limbs.
21. Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp.)
These vining flowers are toxic to pets due to the presence of indole alkaloids, including lysergic acid (the famous hallucinogenic compound involved in the Salem witch trials).
If pets ingest morning glory, vomitin, and diarrhea are the most likely symptoms. However, they may also develop hallucinations and accompanying odd behavior.
22. Purslane (Portulaca)
These succulent-like plants include both wild and ornamental species. Although humans eat some of the plants, raw plants contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause discomfort to pets.
If your pet ingests purslane, it may develop an irritated or swollen mouth, increased salivation, and tremors. These plants can also cause kidney failure, although this is rare.
23. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Also known as rose bay, oleander is toxic to both dogs and cats due to the presence of cardiac glycosides. All parts of the plants contain these toxins.
Possible symptoms of oleander ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and drooling. If your pet consumes a large amount of this plant and is not treated, it may develop colic or die.
24. Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Periwinkle is often planted as a garden groundcover and has become an invasive species in many areas. Unfortunately, it is toxic to both dogs and cats due to the presence of vinca alkaloids.
When pets ingest this plant, they may develop vomiting, diarrhea, and low-pressure symptoms. If left untreated, pets can also experience tremors, seizures, coma, and even death. Therefore, you should contact a vet ASAP.
25. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
If you bring these popular winter plants into your home, you should keep them out of your pets’ reaches. That’s because these plants produce irritating sap that can harm your dogs and cats.
If your pets do get their teeth on a poinsettia, they will likely develop an irritated mouth and may begin to drool. Vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, which are often the most serious symptoms.
26. Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp.)
Rhododendrons of all kinds are toxic to pets due to the presence of grayanotoxins. These compounds are neurotoxins that interfere with sodium channels and, therefore, cell communication and function.
If your pets ingest any part of a rhododendron plant, they may experience symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and increased saliva production. They may also develop weakness, heart issues, and seizures. If left untreated, animals may die.
27. Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)
While sweet peas are non-toxic to dogs and cats, they can cause serious harm to horses. That’s because it contains the compound aminopropionitrile.
If your horses browse on sweet peas, they can develop symptoms including pacing, lethargy, and weakness. If horses consume a large amount of sweet peas, they may begin to experience seizures and can even die.
28. Tulip (Tulipa spp.)
Tulip plants contain compounds known as tulipalins that are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. When pets eat tulip plants, they may experience vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and increased saliva production.
Tulip bulbs contain the largest concentrations of toxins, so keeping unplanted bulbs away from curious pets is especially important. However, you should also keep cut tulips out of your pets’ reaches.
29. Wisteria (Wisteria spp.)
Wisteria plants are known for their impressive vining habit and beautiful flowers. But they are also toxic to pets due to the presence of lectin and glycosides.
If your car or dog munches on a wisteria plant, they may develop vomiting and diarrhea. Depression is another possible symptom.
30. Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
Commonly found growing wild in Eastern North America, yellow jessamine is a harmful plant for livestock. The plants contain numerous neurotoxins, including gelsemine, gelsemicine, and gelsedine.
If animals ingest the leaves, stems, or flowers of the plant, they often experience symptoms related to the nervous system. Possible symptoms include paralysis, weak muscles, and respiratory distress or failure.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Pet Has Consumed a Toxic Flower
If you know that your pet has eaten a toxic flower, move them to a contained area and closely monitor them. Depending on the plant’s toxicity and the amount of plant they ate, you may want to call a veterinarian ASAP.
When you head to the vet, make sure to provide information about what and how much your pet ate.
If you notice that your pet is acting oddly, but you’re unsure what they ate, keep a close eye on them. Once your pet is in a safe area, try to look around for any signs that indicate what your pet ate. Chewed stems, knocked-over planters, and freshly disturbed soil can help you determine what your pet ate.
If your pet begins to experience concerning symptoms, take them to a veterinarian immediately.
How to Keep Pets Away from Toxic Flowers
The best way to keep your pet away from toxic flowers is by limiting exposure to them. That may mean planting only pet-safe flowers in your garden and bringing pet-safe bouquets into your home.
However, there are other ways to keep your pets away from toxic flowers.
If you know you have a toxic flower in your home, it’s best to keep your pet away from the flower. This may involve putting potted plants in locations your pet cannot reach or placing toxic garden plants behind fences.
When out and about with your dog, you should discourage them from eating any unknown plants.
While flowering plants provide beauty to the garden and home, they can also present danger to your pets. Knowing which plants are toxic to pets is a great place to start. Now that you know some of the most popular flowers that are toxic to pets, you can take steps to protect your animals. Avoiding toxic flowers is the best way to keep your pets safe, but you can also work to keep these plants out of your pets’ reaches.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.