Poisonous Plants & How to Safely Garden with Pets

The weather is warming, the birds are chirping, and spring is officially here! This time of year, many people take up gardening as a hobby since it is the optimal time for many plants and flowers to flourish. The team at PetFlow wants to help our gardening pet parents get the lush garden of their dreams, while still maintaining a safe environment for their furry friends!

cat and dog rolling around outside in the grass

Plants to Avoid:

Sago Palm

Sago Palm Tree Poisonous to both Cats and dogs

While Sago Palm is a gorgeous plant and flourishes well in warmer climates, this is definitely one that pet parents will want to avoid keeping! If you do keep this plant, we highly advise keeping it out of reach of your pet. Just one or two seeds accidentally ingested by a pet can lead to lethargy, vomiting, and even seizures.


Lily flowers are poisonous to cats and dogs

Though it is a stunning and popular springtime flower, lilies actually pose a great danger to our furry friends, dogs and cats alike. In dogs, lilies can cause a loss in appetite, vomiting, excessive drooling, and diarrhea. In cats, ingesting or even brushing against lilies can lead to kidney damage or kidney failure. We highly advise keeping these gorgeous flowers away from pets! This also includes calla lilies and peace lilies.


Rhododendrons are poisonous to cats and dogs

Azaleas are a popular flower due to their beauty and vibrance, however, this is another one pet parents are going to want to tread lightly with. Ingestion of as little as 0.2% of the plant can cause poisoning. The side effects from ingesting this plant can include heart trouble, digestive issues, and can affect the central nervous system.


Another popular springtime favorite, unfortunately, tulips are dangerous to both cats and dogs. The most dangerous part of this flower is the bulb, but ingesting any part of the plant can lead to toxicity in pets.

Plants Containing Cardiac Glycosides

Cardiac glycoside is a naturally occurring compound found in certain plants. This compound is known to slow down the heart rate. Some plants containing cardiac glycoside include: foxglove, oleanders, and lily of the valley. When ingested, this plant can affect your pet’s heart rate, causing arrhythmias. It can also cause neurological issues such as tremors and seizures, along with gastrointestinal upset.

Let’s Talk Fertilizer & Mulch…

We know that fertilizer is an essential part of the gardening regimen. In most instances, fertilizer is generally safe for pets. However, there are fertilizers that have been treated with pesticides and insecticides to prevent snails and other unwanted creatures from attacking feasting on your precious plants. Please try to avoid letting your dog munch on this! We also highly advise putting the bag of fertilizer in a safe place out of reach of curious pets looking for a snack. Eating fertilizer out of the bag could cause severe poisoning.

granular fertilizer can be harmful to our pets

Another thing to avoid letting your pet munch on is mulch. Mulch is usually made from shredded tree bark, but one you might want to stay away from as a dog parent is cocoa mulch. Most dog parents know that chocolate ingestion can pose a serious danger to pet parents. Cocoa mulch contains theobromine, which is the compound that can cause chocolate poisoning in dogs. A small amount of ingestion should only lead to gastrointestinal upset, but if they ingest a larger amount, you will want to get them medical attention as soon as possible.

cocoa mulch contains theobromine that is bad for dogs

Pet-Friendly Plants

  • Sunflowers
  • Marigolds
  • Camellias
  • Bamboo
  • Snap dragons
  • Roses
  • Petunias
  • Orchids

While there are a lot of plant options pet parents should stay away from, there are still plenty of options out there to make your garden the lush landscape you long for. For more details about plants that could be deemed unsafe for pets, check out the ASPCA, as they have a thorough list along with poison control contact information. Definitely do not hesitate to reach poison control if you fear your pet may have ingested something dangerous. You can give them a call at (888) 426-4435.

Even if there are plants deemed unsafe for pets in your garden, there are also ways to pet proof your yard to make sure that your pet can play safely. One recommendation we have for dog owners would be a playpen. It is a good way to make sure your pet gets out and gets the sun and activity they need, while still keeping the flowers of your choosing. For cat owners, we have a wide selection of outdoor enclosures that will safely allow your feline to get outside. 

For any questions on safe pet gardening or outdoor enclosures for your pets, you can reach out to our team of pet parents at 1-888-316-7297. We are always here and happy to help!