Some pet owners know that their furry companions tend to chow down on just about anything they see, whether it’s edible or not. Occasionally, this trait can land these critters in some serious trouble, especially if they choose to tangle with a poisonous plant or toxic treat. Avoid a trip to the emergency vet by keeping these plants and foods out of paw’s reach.


Poisonous plants

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, here are the top 10 most toxic plants dog and cat owners should avoid:

  • Autumn Crocus — Part of the Liliaceae family, this highly toxic plant contains colchicine. Ingestion can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.
  • Azalea — Pets who consume even a few leaves of an azalea can experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, coma, and even death.
  • Lilies — There are many different types of lilies, and some are toxic to cats while others are benign. The most toxic varieties include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show lilies. Even the pollen from the plant or the water from the vase can be deadly to cats, causing acute, severe kidney failure.
  • Cyclamen — Pets who ingest the roots of this plant can experience severe vomiting and death.
  • Kalanchoe — A popular succulent, this plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and irregular heartbeat when ingested by pets.
  • Oleander — Pets who ingest the leaves and flowers of this plant can experience vomiting, slowed heart rate, and even death.
  • Dieffenbachia — If a pet consumes this popular indoor plant, symptoms can include oral irritation, nausea, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Daffodils — Ingestion of the bulb, plant, or flower of a Daffodil can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, respiratory depression, and irregular heartbeat.
  • Lily of the Valley — This plant contains cardiac glycosides, which, if ingested, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased or irregular heart rate, and seizures.
  • Sago Palm — Pets who ingest the leaves and seeds of this popular plant can experience vomiting, bloody stools, damage to the stomach lining, liver failure, and death.
  • Tulips and hyacinths — The most toxic part of these plants is the bulb. Pets who get into the tulips or hyacinths can suffer from tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus, which can lead to drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea.


Toxic treats

Who doesn’t love a buttery heap of mashed potatoes or a rich piece of chocolate cake? Your pets love a lot of the same foods you do, but that doesn’t mean that those foods necessarily love them back. Keep a close eye on these tempting treats and be sure they stay out of paw’s reach:

  • Chocolate — A common toxic food, chocolate is too tempting for many dogs to turn down. Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of the toxins—theobromine and caffeine—which can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, hyperactivity, heart problems, seizures, and even death.
  • Fatty foods — No matter the temperature, winter almost always equals comfort food. But, you should avoid including your furry friend in the feast. Ham, buttery mashed potatoes, turkey skin, and other fatty foods can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis.
  • Macadamia nuts — Pair this nut with chocolate in a tasty cookie, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Macadamia nuts can cause pain, hind-limb weakness, and muscle tremors. When combined with chocolate, death can occur.
  • Onions and garlic — While these two ingredients may spice up your favorite dish, keep them away from pets. Onions are considerably more toxic than garlic, with just a small amount capable of causing hemolytic anemia, where the red blood cells burst within the body. Labored breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or orange- or red-colored urine are signs of this toxicity.
  • Milk and dairy products — Contrary to popular belief, most pets, especially cats, are lactose intolerant. Images of an adorable feline lapping from a saucer brimming with cream have contributed to this urban legend, but most adult animals lose the ability to digest lactose as they grow. Ingesting lactose-laden dairy products can lead to vomiting and diarrhea in some pets.
  • Xylitol — Becoming more common in sugar-free candies, desserts, and even peanut butter, this popular sugar substitute can be deadly to pets. Ingestion of xylitol can cause vomiting, lethargy, tremors, seizures, liver failure, and even death.


There are many other substances toxic to pets. Check out the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control website for more information. Worried your pet may have ingested a potential toxin? Call us immediately. The sooner we can identify the toxin and begin treating your pet, the better.