Pet owners urged to check their gardens for these five toxic plants

Image by Yolande Labbe from Pixabay

As Spring blossoms across the UK, thoughts turn to transforming our gardens for the warmer months ahead. With longer days beckoning us outdoors, it’s no surprise that many of us are starting to plan how we’ll transform our outdoor spaces just in time for BBQ season.

But for those with pets, it isn’t as simple as purchasing the outdoor plant that you have your heart set on. Kelly Dyer, Plant Doctor and Lead Horticulturalist at Patch Plants said, “It’s really important for pet owners to think about the four-legged friends that share their outdoor space. If you have curious pets who are prone to eating whatever they find or might nibble an interesting-looking leaf, you should make sure to choose plants that are harmless to them.”

Some plants aren’t good for your pets and can lead to upset stomachs, itching and sometimes more severe incidents like cardiac arrests. Thankfully, though, there are harmless alternatives that can provide the same visual effect without the worry of harming anyone or anything.

Five Plants That Are Toxic To Pets

  1. Yew
    Yew is one of the three conifers native to Britain and can be widely spotted across the countryside in Northern Europe. Sadly, despite its popularity, it is still dangerous to both humans and pets. All parts of the Yew tree are highly toxic to cats and dogs because of a compound called taxine, which can lead to seizures and cardiac arrest.
    Suggested alternative: Photinia x Fraseri (Red Robin) 
  2. Azaleas and Rhododendrons
    Although these beautifully showy flowers look impressive, they contain grayanotoxins that are toxic to dogs and can cause difficulty breathing and vomiting – to name just a few symptoms. Before you start digging your beloved Rhodies out of your garden, however, it’s worth noting that a large quantity of this plant would need to be eaten for the more severe symptoms to kick in.
    Suggested alternative: Camellia Japonica
  3. Hydrangeas
    Sadly, this very popular plant can be toxic to dogs because, as Kelly explains, “ Hydrangeas contain a compound called cyanogenic glycoside which, with chewing, can cause cyanide to be released.” While a lot of the plant would need to be ingested for cyanide poisoning to be the result, mild side effects include vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite. So, whilst your pet would have to eat an improbable amount to lead to sickness, it’s best to try and avoid putting your pet near the temptation of a tasty hydrangea leaf.

Suggested alternative: Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)

  1. Hardy/Cranesbill Geraniums
    Hardy Geraniums (sometimes referred to as Cranesbill) are one of the most popular plants to feature in our gardens, mostly because they’re easy to grow, tolerate a wide range of conditions, are tough and are very low maintenance. However, Kelly Dyer warns: “All parts of this plant contain the essential oils linalool and geraniol which can cause upset to cats and dogs.” If you do have Cranesbill in your garden, and your pet does partake of it, be mindful that there will be side effects. Luckily, in this case, the symptoms are mild, including itching, dermatitis and vomiting.Suggested alternative: Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’ (Shehnaz)
  2. Ivy
    Due to triterpenoid saponins, this common plant can be poisonous to cats and dogs. Interestingly, despite what many believe, the foliage on ivy is more toxic than the berries. If ingested this can cause a lot of upset for your precious pets, including hypersalivation, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.
    Suggested alternative: Golden Shield Fern (Beryl)

Kelly Dyer adds, “We know how important it is for homeowners to create a zen outdoor environment that also caters to the curious nature of their pets. But at Patch Plants, we want to highlight that creating a safe environment for our cats and dogs, shouldn’t mean compromising on a beautiful garden with a rich variety of plants. Whether you want to add a splash of colour to your space or invest in a tall pet-friendly tree that will provide shade for those who struggle with too much sunshine, there are many ways you can transform your garden.”

This is a guest post by Kelly Dyer. Want to write for us? Visit or email


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