Plants poisonous for dogs, and other dangers holiday cottages


Plants poisonous for dogs, and other dangers

Ruth 05 February 2024

We all do everything we can to keep our four-legged friends safe and happy, whether that be taking them for long walks, looking after their grooming needs or making sure they stay away from toxic foods.

But did you know, you also need to keep your tufty-pawed pal safe around plants too? At Canine Cottages, we love dog roses, dogwood and dog violets – but there are a whole host of plants that are poisonous to dogs, with many well-loved outdoor plants and houseplants being toxic to our canine friends.

With some help from our pals at Battersea, we’ve rounded up the main poisonous plants for dogs, both inside and outside, to help keep your beloved bow-wow safe at home, and on holiday. We’ve also pointed out some other dangers to be aware of, so that your holiday with your pet can go ahead without a hitch. For more ways to care for your canine, click the button below.

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Symptoms of plant poisoning in dogs

If a dog has ingested a poisonous plant, the symptoms can be varied in nature and severity. Depending on what exactly the dog has eaten, and how much, symptoms of eating a poisonous plant may include any or some of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Confusion/change in behaviour
  • Dilated pupils
  • Change in heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Drinking or urinating more
  • Seizures
  • Rashes/ulcers/red skin
  • Pale gums
  • Collapsing

Garden plants that are poisonous to dogs

Dog eating plants in a vegetable plot.

Many garden plants are poisonous to dogs, so it’s worth noting that this is not a definitive list – if you think your pup has come across any plants that are harmful to dogs, the best thing to do is call your vet for advice. One of the most asked questions when it comes to garden plants and dogs, is ‘are tomato plants poisonous to dogs?’ – the answer is yes, because the leaves and stems contain solanine which can cause nausea, vomiting and drowsiness, among other symptoms.

This list of plants dangerous for dogs includes seasonal favourites like foxgloves, buttercups and many spring bulbs.

Not all of the plants listed below are immediately toxic to dogs; many will cause your curious canine lesser problems ranging from drooling and lethargy to gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhoea. However, to be on the safe side, it’s best to keep your dog away from the following garden plants (click to expand). On a side note, if your dog is is a bit too enthusiastic with digging in the garden, check out our article 'Why do dogs dig'?

  • Aconitum
  • Amaryllis
  • Asparagus fern
  • Azalea
  • Begonia
  • Bleeding heart
  • Bluebell
  • Buttercup
  • Castor bean
  • Chamomile
  • Chive
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Clematis
  • Cotoneaster
  • Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Day lily
  • Delphinium
  • Dog's mercury
  • Foxglove
  • Garden star-of-Bethlehem
  • Garlic
  • Geranium
  • Giant hogweed
  • Gladiola
  • Grapevine fruit
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Hops
  • Horse chestnut and conkers
  • Hosta
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Laburnum
  • Lace flower
  • Larkspur
  • Leek
  • Lily
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Lupin
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood
  • Morning glory
  • Nightshade
  • Oak and acorns
  • Oleander
  • Onion and shallot
  • Periwinkle
  • Pieris plant
  • Potato plant
  • Primrose
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb plant
  • Rowan
  • Sweet pea
  • Tomato plant
  • Tulips
  • Wisteria
  • Yarrow
  • Yew

Garden plants that are safe for dogs

Dog looking up from amongst a cluster of daisies.

With so many plants being poisonous for dogs, you might be thinking about retiring your green fingers in favour of keeping your dog safe.

However, if you’re looking to establish a dog-friendly garden, the good news is there are so many dog-friendly plants that you can use to create a veritable Eden for pets, including cheerful classics such as roses, sunflowers and marigolds.

Brighten up your garden with these dog-friendly plants you can safely pop into your garden (click to expand).

  • African daisy
  • Aster
  • Bamboo
  • Basil
  • Begonia
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Calendula
  • Camellia
  • Cornflower
  • Dill
  • Elaeagnus
  • Fennel
  • Fern
  • Fuchsia
  • Hollyhock
  • Jasmine (except Cape Jasmine and Paraguayan Jasmine)
  • Magnolia
  • Marigold
  • Moth orchid
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Petunia
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sedge
  • Snapdragon
  • Sunflower
  • Thyme
  • Zinnia

Houseplants that are poisonous to dogs

A little dog sitting next to a house plant which has been knocked over - there's soil on the floor.

It’s not only your garden where you need to be aware of poisonous plants; many common houseplants are toxic to dogs too.

If your four-pawed pal ingests one of these plants, symptoms can range from allergic reactions such as a swollen tongue or lips to more serious issues such as kidney failure, paralysis or a coma. Once again, if your dog has consumed any houseplant and you are unsure if it’s toxic, consult your vet as soon as possible.

Here are some common houseplants that are poisonous to dogs that you should be aware of (click to expand).

  • Alocasia
  • Aloe vera
  • Amaryllis
  • Arrowhead plant
  • Asparagus fern
  • Begonia
  • Bird of paradise (strelitzia)
  • Cactus
  • Cyclamen
  • Desert rose
  • Dracaena
  • Dumb cane (dieffenbachia)
  • Elephant ear (caladium)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ficus Benjamina
  • Flamingo flower
  • Gardenia
  • Geranium
  • Ivy
  • Jade
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily
  • Oleander
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos/devil's ivy
  • Sago palm
  • Schefflera
  • Ti plant
  • ZZ plant

Houseplants that are safe for dogs

If you dream of living in a house that looks more like a jungle, there are plenty of dog-friendly houseplants that can brighten up your home while still allowing you to protect your pup from consuming anything toxic.

This list of paw-friendly houseplants includes favourites such as ferns, Chinese money plants and palms, as well as more trendy greenery like a string of turtles and polka dot plants – so there’s something to suit every style!

Here are some house plants that are safe for dogs (click to expand).

  • Air plants
  • Areca palm
  • Banana plant
  • Calathea/prayer plants
  • Chinese money plant
  • Ferns
  • Peperomia
  • Polka dot plant
  • Ponytail palm
  • Sempervivum
  • String of turtles
  • Venus flytrap

What to do if your dog eats something poisonous

A vet from Battersea looking at a black dog.

We asked our friends at Battersea for advice on what to do if you think your dog has eaten something poisonous.

Kristina Otowski-McNicol, one of Battersea’s senior nurses, advises:

“If you are concerned that your dog may have eaten something that may be harmful to them, it’s important to get them to a vet as soon as possible. 

“Even if your dog isn’t showing serious symptoms, some poisonous plants or food may have symptoms that you can’t see or may cause issues later.

“If you’re taking your dog on holiday, it's worth doing some research on local veterinary practice locations just in case something was to happen while you’re away from home.”

Keeping your dog safe on holiday

Beagle in a harvested field at sunset.

Dog-proofing your own garden is one thing, but what happens when you go away? We have a whole host of dog-friendly cottages where you and your four-legged friends can have the time of your lives, but if your pup’s curiosity can get them into predicaments, you’ll need to be one step ahead to avoid a holiday vet trip.

Top tips for keeping your dog safe in the garden of a holiday cottage

Dogs lying down in the garden at the foot of some steps, with people having a BBQ at the table in the background.

  • Do your homework before you book. You know your dog best – take a look at the photos of the garden and property and decide if it’s suitable for you and your family pet. Here are some tips on what to look for in a dog-friendly property.
  • Check the perimeter of the garden when you arrive. Even if the garden is well enclosed, a determined escapee is sure to find an exit, if you don’t find it first!
  • Scan the plants for known poisonous varieties (see above). If your dog is prone to snaffling things they shouldn’t, keep them on a lead while they explore the garden.
  • Never leave your dog unattended. In a new place, with new smells and distractions, they may behave differently than usual.
  • Holidays are fun and exciting, so make sure your dog gets time to rest. Try to keep to your routine when it comes to walks, food and sleep, as this will help them adapt to their new surroundings.
  • Keep them fed and watered. When they’re running around, especially in the sunshine, make sure that they have access to clean water and food – it’s easy for you, and them, to forget when on a laid-back holiday schedule.

Man tying his shoelaces in the hallway while a dog looks on.

  • Keep them entertained with toys in the garden, and play with them regularly. Not only will this help them settle in and have a great holiday, but it will also distract them from any mischievous antics they may get up to if left to their own devices.
  • Don’t forget about houseplants. Potted plants make cottages homely and welcoming, but if your dog is partial to a nibble, it’s best to put them up out of reach. Scout out any potential dangers as soon as you arrive.

The best dog-friendly cottages are well set up to accommodate you and your pet, with many offering thoughtful extras to ensure that you all enjoy a comfortable stay. If you have any specific queries relating to staying at a property with your dog, just get in touch. When booking a holiday cottage with Canine Cottages, you can rest assured that your dog will be as welcome as you are!

Other dangers to dogs

Dog looking forlorn with a bandage on.

If you’re holidaying with your dog, especially in a place that’s not familiar to you, there are certain dangers to dogs that are easily avoidable when you know what to look out for. Our article on how to keep your dog safe on walks is also handy to refer to.

Be aware of organic fertilisers

Dog digging around in the soil.

While organic fertilisers may be great for plants, they are also tempting to dogs as they are made up of otherwise unused natural animal products, such as blood and bone. That may not sound great to us but if your pups are anything like ours, they will love digging around, getting their nose into all sorts!

While digging and eating a little bit of earth is not problematic in itself, there may be hidden dangers under the soil which can be dangerous to your pet. In addition, ingesting a lot of organic fertiliser can give your dog gastrointestinal irritation, so do be careful if your hound likes to get their paws dirty.

Top dog tip: If you find that your dog is eating earth in excessive quantities, it's worth consulting your vet as there may be a dietary deficiency or gastric upset that needs to be investigated.

Beware of adders

Close up of a European adder.

Many dogs are bound to be excited by walkies in a new place. While there's nothing nicer than seeing a dog happily sniffing about on their walk, there may be a not-so-friendly creature hiding in the undergrowth – the European adder. The only venomous snake native to the UK, this scaly creature hibernates from October and tends to emerge in the first warm days of March, popping up from beneath logs, rocks or piles of leaves (and surprisingly, sand dunes) when you least expect them.

If surprised by a dog, the adder may bite in self-defence so be particularly careful with puppies and young dogs who may try to turn an encounter with an adder into a fun game! If you hear a yelp, check your pet over and keep an eye on them during the walk. If they experience any swelling, pain or breathing difficulties during or after a walk, contact your vet straight away.

Top dog tip: Adders tend to be most active in the afternoon, so be particularly careful at this time of day. Most bites tend to occur on the legs or face so pay special attention to these areas.

Keep dogs away from chocolate

Dog looking forlorn, lying on the floor next to an opened bar of chocolate, with some pieces missing.

A chocolate treat on holiday is a pleasure for us humans, but for those with four paws, ingesting it can be fatal due to a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. Hungry hounds (and non-hungry ones) will go to the ends of the earth to find chocolate, even if you think you've put it well out of paw's reach, so be sure to put all chocolate treats out of harm's way. Be especially careful if you have children who may squirrel away a tasty chocolate hoard, not realising that Fido may well find their hidden treats before they do.

As a rule, baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most toxic types of chocolate, followed by milk chocolate and finally white chocolate. If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, call your vet immediately who will advise a plan of action depending on the size of your dog and the amount consumed.

Top dog tip: Be particularly careful with Easter egg hunts – if you hold one in your garden, make sure that your children have found all of the eggs before letting Fido and Flora out, and never do them in public places where other dogs may find them before you do. Why not do a hunt with non-chocolate eggs which is much safer and just as much fun?

Keep human treats for humans

Hot cross buns with jam.

Who can resist popping into a bakery on holiday and stocking up on delicious pastries and cakes? While we adore these sweet treats, they’re no good for dogs and may contain all kinds of things which are dangerous for our four-legged pals. Chocolate (see above) is a staple in many bakery goodies, and dried fruit including raisins, currants and sultanas, as well as nutmeg and lemon zest are all toxic to dogs and must be kept well out of reach of wandering paws.

Most dogs won't think twice about demolishing a six-pack of hot cross buns (every vet has a tale to tell) so make sure that they are kept not only off counters but also somewhere where your dog can't get to them. One particular Canine Club staff hound (we won't mention names) has even been known to jump onto a high countertop and then open a cupboard with their nose just to get to these tasty treats!

Top dog tip: If you want to spoil your dog, head to the pet shop before your holiday and buy a bag of treats that you can share with them any time you’re indulging in a snack.

Watch out for livestock

Ewe with lambs in a green field.

Particularly in spring, there are many young animals taking their first steps; it's even more important than usual to keep dogs on leads around wildlife and livestock at this time of year. While the shock of a loose dog can cause fatalities in both mothers and offspring, it is also a danger for your dog as farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their livestock. You never know what is around the corner in the countryside and fields can change from one day to the next, so never assume that if an area is livestock-free one day, it will be the next.

Top dog tip: Bear in mind also that mothers can be very protective of their offspring and can often become aggressive – keep dogs on leads around spring babies, however well-behaved your dog is.

Prepare for seasonal allergies

Dog biting its itchy leg.

Though pets can suffer from allergies all year round, some develop seasonal allergies to particular pollens and grasses. While dogs may have runny eyes and sneezing as humans do, most canines usually present with skin redness and itching, and sometimes secondary ear and skin infections. It's not always easy to keep dogs away from particular allergens, especially if you don't know what is causing the allergy, but there are allergy tests available on the market which may help once other conditions have been ruled out – consult your vet to see if these may be suitable for your dog.

Depending on symptoms, your vet will provide an appropriate course of treatment for your pet's allergy which may include antihistamines, steroids or more potent immune modulators. Never give a human antihistamine to a dog without checking it is safe with your vet first.

Top dog tip: Itchy and red skin can also be caused by flea allergy dermatitis, so make sure that your dog is protected from these little critters all year round. Your vet can advise on a plan for your dog.

Keep cleaning products out of harm's way

Dog sitting in the kitchen with cleaning products nearby.

If you’re staying in a holiday cottage, make sure that you locate any cleaning products and ensure they’re not accessible to your dog. Some disinfectants can be toxic if pets come into contact with them so it's best to keep curious canines away from areas being cleaned until they are dry and safe – read manufacturers' instructions if you are in any doubt about the toxicity of a product. There are lots of pet-safe cleaning products that you can buy with fewer chemicals in them as well as natural cleaning products which are better for both your pet and the environment – so bear this in mind when you’re choosing products for your home, and even when you're washing your car.

Top dog tip: Have a quick look around the kitchen, bathrooms and utility areas when you arrive to make sure cleaning products are out of harm's way.

What to do if your dog is ill or injured on holiday

Little dog wrapped in a blanket looking sorry for itself.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dog may become ill or injured. The best thing to do is have a plan in place for this scenario so that you can act calmly, rationally and in a well-informed way to ensure the best outcome for your pup.

Contact a vet

Vet looking in a dog's ear.

If your dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, follow the guidance from our friends at Battersea above and contact a vet straight away. Ensure that you always consult an expert before giving any medication or administering treatment, and don’t be tempted to wait until you get home before you consult a vet. Quick treatment can help prevent worse damage to your pet.

The good news is that in the UK, there’s usually a vet close by. Use a search engine to find ‘vets near me’ and get in touch with them as soon as possible. If you’re staying in a holiday cottage, consult the information pack, as owners who welcome dogs to their property are likely to include details of local vets. Take a photo on your phone of the information when you arrive to refer to in case of an emergency when you’re out and about.

Use your first aid kit

Dog on the floor with contents of first aid kit spread out, and owner knelt beside.

Keep a dog first aid kit in the car, complete with bandages, antibacterial wound cleaner, sting relief ointment, tweezers, tick removal kit, plasters, scissors, gloves and any other equipment you may need. A dog first aid kit is super-useful for minor issues such as ticks, scrapes or tangled fur, and can be the first port of call to help address an injury while waiting for professional treatment by a vet.

Consult your vet in advance

Owner and dog in foreground, vet in background.

Chat with your vet next time you see them and ask them to recommend items such as antihistamines and products for your first aid kit. They’ll tailor their advice to your pet, and you’ll feel more confident in the event of an allergic reaction to an insect sting, for example. Talk over any existing medical issues that you foresee being a problem while you’re away, so you can plan for the worst-case scenario.

Canine Care

Not only do we believe that every dog should be able to go on holiday with their beloved owners, but we love our four-legged friends so much that we’ve created a series of content to help you have a happy hound.

We’ve partnered with some top canine experts such as Battersea, Beaphar, and PawAid to find out the best tips and tricks for looking after your waggy-tailed wonder. Click the button below to read all our Canine Care blogs.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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