Keep Pets Safe from Dangerous Plants

(12/27/12) By Traci D. Howerton, Social Media Editor, as published in The Advocate, New Orleans edition,"
Amelia at home

Kiss me Kate! This is a sweetheart! Kate is a fabulous torbie kitty with white on her face. She was rescued as a kitten and rehomed, and then her owner moved and left her in the street. She was picked up and brought to a municipal shelter. Her microchip saved her life. She was chipped to ARNO, which rescued her again. She has been in a foster home but just came into ARNO's shelter. She would like to be an only diva if possible as she loves all the attention she can get! Kate's adoption fee is $85 and includes spay, shots, a chip and a combo test. For more information, contact

We all want to keep our pets happy and healthy. While we may do a great job at feeding them and keeping them groomed and up-to-date on vaccinations and preventive medicines, we can sometimes overlook a less-than-obvious danger: plants.

But they’re there, sometimes as close as our own backyards, such as the sago palm, or in the holiday decorations, such as poinsettias.

The following is a list of some of the plants most toxic to pets.

Sago palm: Also known as the Palm Sunday palm, the entire plant and the seeds in particular contain a potent toxin called cycasin that can be fatal, even if the dog only eats a single seed. Ingestion of any part or amount of this plant warrants immediate emergency treatment.

Azalea: Ingesting even just a few leaves can cause serious issues such as upset stomach, drooling, loss of appetite, weakness and leg paralysis, and in some cases, coma or death.

Daffodils: They contain poisonous alkaloids that can cause vomiting, excessive salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, tremors and heart problems. The bulbs are the most dangerous part of the plant.

Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane): This plant is often recommended as an ideal houseplant for natural air purification. When eaten, it not only burns the mouth and throat, but causes the esophagus to swell, potentially blocking the dog’s airway.

Hibiscus: Signs of ingestion include vomiting and diarrhea.

Other plants and plant products that are toxic to pets include grapes, mushrooms, marijuana, lilies, black walnuts, castor bean, daisies, geraniums, hydrangeas, tomato plants and poinsettias.

You can find a full list with photos on the website of the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

We love our pets and want to keep them healthy. Knowing what plants are harmful to your pets will keep them safe when in the yard or out for a stroll.

Traci D. Howerton

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed it since Katrina.

Back to top