There is an overwhelming amount of plant species that render themselves poisonous to our furry companions. Although some are more toxic than others, it’s important to survey your garden, identify, restrict or remove these perilous plants for the safety and wellbeing of your pet.

According to experts, by adding bran flakes to your four-legged friend’s food or by including more vegetable fibres in their diet, they may be less inclined to seek out your garden vegetation.

A practical way to assess the most common of these poisonous plants is to classify them according to which system in the body they affect:

Plants Affecting the Nervous System:

o Syringa berry tree

o Cannabis sativa: Otherwise known as the “Marijuana” or Dagga” plant

o Amanita pantherina: A kind of mushroom that grows at the base of sizeable trees

o Moonflower: An annual weed with prickly fruit consisting of tiny pitted seeds

o ‘Yesterday-today and tomorrow’

Clinical symptoms:

· muscle tremors and/or spasms

· restlessness

· respiratory difficulties

· diarrhoea

· vomiting

· excitement alternating with depression

· excessive barking

· agitation

· hallucinations

· staggering gait

· vomiting

· dry mucous membranes of the eyes and mouth

· increased respiration rate or constant panting

· ataxia (loss of coordination of the limbs, head, and/or trunk)

· paralysis

· digestive upsets

· drowsiness

· seizures

Plants Affecting the Gastrointestinal System:

o Chinkerinchee or Star of Bethlehem

o Castor-oil plant

o Araceae family: Toxic plants included in this family are Elephants Ear, Dumb Cane, Delicious Monster and Arum Lilly.

o Clivia

o Arum lilies and Peace lilies: Cats are more susceptible to intoxication from lilies than their canine counterparts.

Clinical symptoms:

· vomiting

· acute diarrhoea

· bloating

· cramping

· blindness

· potential multiple organ failure

· severe pain

· paralysis of the tongue

· excessive salivation

· difficulty swallowing because of a numb mouth and throat

Plants Affecting the Liver:

o Cycads

o Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae): The most common species being Microcystis. Dogs are exposed to this species by drinking or swimming in water contaminated with it. Intoxication occurs when they groom themselves, subsequently ingesting the toxic algae.

o Amanita phalloides and Boletus edulis: Types of mushrooms growing at the base of sizeable trees

Clinical symptoms:

· appetite loss

· excessive salivation

· depression

· early symptoms can manifest themselves as gastrointestinal signs, such as vomiting, salivation and diarrhoea

· permanent liver damage

Plants Affecting the Kidneys:

o Asiatic lily, Calla lily, Day lily, Easter lily, Peace lily, Tiger lily and Lily of the valley, among others: Cats are more susceptible to intoxication from lilies than their canine counterparts.

Clinical Symptoms:

Nephrotoxin in the abovementioned lilies can lead to renal failure within 24-72 hours of consumption. It only takes ingestion of one leaf to commence renal decline.

· Vomiting

· Dehydration

· Loss of appetite

· Drooling

· Increased urination, followed by a drastic reduction I urination for 1 – 2 days.

Plants Affecting the Heart:

Oleander family of plants:

o Nerium oleander

o Yellow oleander

o Foxgloves

o Lily of the valley: Cats are more susceptible to intoxication from lilies than their canine counterparts.

Clinical symptoms:

· Early indications of intoxication manifest themselves in the onset of gastrointestinal tract symptoms, such as diarrhoea, vomiting and excess salivation.

· More severe signs subsequently follow including acute heart and respiratory distress, disturbances in cardiac rhythm and heart failure.

· low blood pressure

· seizures

· coma

Plants Affecting the Blood:

o Onions

Clinical symptoms:

– anaemia

– jaundice

Plants Affecting the Skin:

o Rubberhedge euphorbia

o Carnations: Particularly in cats when their skin comes into contact with the flower.

o Grass seeds and awns: Such as Spear grass, Assegaaigras, Rooigras and Burr bristle grass.

Clinical symptoms:

Specific symptoms associated with grass seeds and awns are determined by the shape of the seed and where it has lodged itself on the pet:

– Eyes may become inflamed and red if affected

– Sneezing or nasal discharge will result if the nose is affected

– Scratching the ear or shaking of the head will result if the ear is affected

– Chewing on an agitated area of skin may result in abscesses developing

· dermatitis

What to do if your Pet is Poisoned?

1. Save your veterinarian’s contact details along with an ER vet and Pet Poison Helpline so it’s always available in case of an emergency.

2. Call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline as soon as you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.

3. Remove your pet from the area where intoxication occurred. Remove any residual poisonous substances from other pets or children’s reach.

4. Ensure your pet is breathing and acting normally.

5. Keep a sample of the toxic material and any other information that may be useful to the vet or the Pet Poison Helpline expert.

6. Do not give your pet any form of prescription or over-the-counter medication to try remedy the situation without your vet’s consent.

7. Do not feed your pet milk, oil, salt or any other home remedies.

8. Never induce vomiting without consulting your veterinarian.

Keep in mind that there is a narrow window period for when professionals can induce vomiting or pump the stomach of toxins to save your pet. Your reaction time to calling for help may make the ultimate difference in saving your loved one’s life, so act immediately.

The list of plants that can harm your fuzzy friends is endless, but the severity of the associated symptoms fully depends on the quantity of toxin that has been ingested and how promptly they are treated thereafter. Plant poisoning in our pet pals is uncommon, but there have been reported cases of related fatalities. By being aware of the types of plants you have in your garden, you can prevent an unnecessary incident or tragedy from happening.

Other Dangerous Plants to Keep your Pet Away from:


Baby’s breath Begonia Castor bean Chrysanthemum Cyclamen Gladiola Hosta Ivy including the following: California, Branching, Glacier, Needlepoint, Sweetheart and English. Milkweed Morning glory Poinsettia Pothos Sago palm Tomato plant


Avoid Other Forms of Pet Poisoning @ Home:

  • Restrict your pet’s access to areas storing or using cleaning materials.

  • Store all cleaning material, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, paint-related items, chemicals and medications in secured cabinets out of your pet’s reach. Even small doses of medication such as antidepressants, vitamins, pain killers, cold medicines and diet pills can be deadly to cats and dogs.

  • Only use pest baits or traps (for rats, mice, snails or cockroaches) in areas that are inaccessible to pets.

  • Only administer prescribed medication from your vet to your dog or cat as many human medications can have fatal consequences for animals.

  • Keep chocolate out of your pet’s reach.

  • Everyday household items can cause serious harm to your pets, so keep the following inaccessible to them:

– diffusor oils

– coffee grounds

– mothballs

– cigarettes

– alcohol

– homemade playdough

– dishwashing liquid

– batteries

  • Store vehicle-related products, such as petrol, oil, car cleaning materials and antifreeze in a safe, inaccessible place from pets.

  • Always consult your vet before applying a flea prevention product to sick, weak or pregnant dogs.

  • Never use products intended for dogs on cats, and never use products intended for cats on dogs.

  • Restrict your pet from accessing areas that have undergone insecticidal fogging or house sprays for as long as the instructions on the label indicate.

  • Restrict your pets from gardens that have been treated with herbicides, fertilisers or insecticides until they have dried entirely.

  • Always consult with a product’s manufacturer or your vet if you are hesitant about the appropriate usage thereof.

Written by Taliah Williamson for Infurmation