10 of the most common summer garden plants that are toxic to dogs

Many of us will currently be giving our gardens a summer makeover – but lots of plants that sprout up at this time of year could be harmful to our dogs.

Plenty of summer plants may make our outdoor spaces look stunning with their bright flowers, but there are many out there that are toxic to dogs and can cause some unpleasant or even life-threatening side-effects if eaten.

In fact, some of the most common additions to our gardens and wild spaces are poisonous to dogs – and it’s worth knowing which ones to make sure they don’t munch on. Here are 10 of the most common plants found throughout the summer that owners need to watch out for.

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Geranium

Geraniums are one of the most popular additions to the garden at this time of year with their beautiful colours, but they can cause your four-legged friend some discomfort. The scented pelargonium species that belongs to the wider geranium family contains oils that can irritate a dog’s skin, while ingesting the plant can lead to vomiting and reduced appetite.



Hydrangeas can cause some unpleasant symptoms in dogs if they eat the plant

hydrangea

Another of the most common sights in gardens throughout the warmer months, hydrangea may spruce up our outdoor space but it’s no friend to your pet. Eating any part of the colorful shrub, including the leaves, flowers, buds or bark, can cause sickness and diarrhoea in dogs or even lethargy and confusion in more serious cases.

Azalea

With their eye-catching flowers it’s no wonder that lots of us introduce azaleas to our gardens over the summer, but this plant contains powerful toxins that can quickly affect your dog’s heart and even cause them to fall into a coma. Symptoms of azalea poisoning include vomiting and diarrhoea, drooling, shallow breathing, weakness and an irregular heartbeat – any owner who suspects their dog may have ingested this plant should whisk them away to the vet immediately.



Foxgloves are a common sight in wild areas, but they can be very harmful to pets
Foxgloves are a common sight in wild areas, but they can be very harmful to pets

Foxglove

Foxgloves may be beautiful, but they are full of natural poisons that are toxic to dogs, cats and even humans. Eating foxglove can cause a dog to have some serious stomach issues exhibited by vomiting and diarrhea, and it can also affect the nervous system leading to tremors and possibly seizures.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley is a common sight in wild areas across the UK that owners should keep an eye out for while walking their dog. Eating this delicate, harmless-looking plant can actually cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, or in more severe cases it may lead to heart problems such as an irregular or slowed heartbeat.



Ragwort can sprout up everywhere in the summer, but owners should make sure their dog doesn't eat it
Ragwort can sprout up everywhere in the summer, but owners should make sure their dog doesn’t eat it

Ragwort

Ragwort is known for its ability to spring up everywhere, and you are likely to see its signature yellow clusters of flowers around when you’re outdoors this summer. Eating any part of the ragwort plant can cause your dog to suffer from liver and kidney failure in the worst cases, while milder symptoms may include an upset stomach.

Larkspur

Larkspur can be recognized by its vertical cluster of colorful flowers, most commonly found in shades of purple or blue. But once again, looks can be deceiving – this pretty plant can cause digestive issues such as bloating and constipation in dogs, but may also potentially lead to muscle problems such as tremors, stiffness or even paralysis in the most serious of cases.



Oleander looks beautiful, but can be deadly for your four-legged friend
Oleander looks beautiful, but can be deadly for your four-legged friend

Oleander

Oleander shrubs bring plenty of color to the garden at this time of year with their bright pink flowers, but every part of this plant is harmful to your dog. Alongside the common symptom of gastrointestinal issues, oleander can also affect your dog’s brain and heart to the extent that it can cause lethargy, depression, tremors, and an abnormal heart rate.

Rhubarb

It’s not just about making our gardens look pretty over the summer – many of us will be hoping to grow some tasty additions to our kitchen cupboard too, with rhubarb being one of the most popular choices. But avoid sharing your rhubarb with your pooch or letting them have a nibble while it’s growing – the leaves can cause mouth irritation and stomach issues, while the stems are also mildly toxic.

Tomato

While dogs can enjoy the occasional slice of red tomato as a juicy snack, owners need to watch out for the other parts of the plant if they’re growing their own tomatoes at home. Unripe tomatoes, as well as other parts of the plant such as the leaves and stem, are poisonous if eaten by dogs and can lead to weakness, tremors and seizures in serious cases.

If you think that your dog may have eaten one of these plants or they are displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above, the best thing to do is contact your vet for advice straight away. Visit the PDSA website for a full list of which plants are toxic to dogs throughout the year.

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