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Avoid These 8 Garden Plants Toxic to Dogs—Grow These Instead

A boxer dog in the garden

As a dog owner, creating a safe and pet-friendly environment is often one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. This is especially true when planting a garden, since many plants pose a danger to your furry friends. If you have pups that spend time outside, make sure to avoid growing these toxic plants and stick to the safe ones listed instead.


A field of tulips
Judith Cool/Shutterstock.com

With their vibrant and eye-catching blooms, tulips are popular flowers in many gardens. Unfortunately, all parts of the tulip plant, including the bulb, contain toxic compounds called tulipalin A, tulipalin B, and tuliposide AB. Ingesting these compounds can cause digestive issues, drooling, and even more severe symptoms like increased heart rate and difficulty breathing in dogs.

Non-toxic alternative: Petunias are an excellent alternative to tulips in your garden as they offer a wide range of vibrant colors and beautiful blooms without posing any toxic risks to your dogs.

Outsidepride Petunia Hybrida Mix

These annual flowers grown in USDA Zones 3-8.

Sago Palms

A sago palm tree
Cristi Kerekes/Shutterstock.com

Sago palms are elegant and sturdy plants commonly used in landscaping. However, all parts of the sago palm plant, especially the seeds (nuts), contain cycasin, a toxic compound that can cause severe damage to the liver and potentially death when ingested by dogs. Symptoms of sago palm poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, lethargy, anorexia, weakness, muscle tremors, dark urine, jaundice, and abnormal bruising.

Non-toxic alternative: Instead of sago palms, consider planting Areca palms. These leafy plants look very similar to sago palms but are not toxic to dogs.

American Plant Exchange Areca Palm

This is a beautiful easy care tropical plant that thrives in a bright location with 4 to 5 hours of sun daily.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera plants in a garden

Aloe vera, known for its many health properties, is a popular plant found in many households. While aloe vera can offer numerous benefits for humans, it contains a compound called saponin, which is toxic to dogs when ingested. Ingestion of aloe vera can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in urine color.

Non-toxic alternative: If you’re looking for a plant with similar aesthetic appeal, consider growing spider plants, which are not toxic to dogs. If you want to access the benefits of aloe vera, stick to bottled products that can stay out of reach of your fur babies.

California Tropicals Bonnie Curly Spider Plant

California Tropicals' Bonnie Curly Spider Plant is live and perfect for indoors.


A Philodendron plant

Philodendrons are attractive and easy-to-grow houseplants that are also commonly found in gardens. However, these plants contain calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic to dogs when chewed or ingested. Ingestion of philodendrons can cause oral irritation, drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.

Non-toxic alternative: Consider planting Boston ferns for a dog-friendly alternative to philodendrons. Boston ferns are safe for dogs and provide a lush and green addition to your garden.

United Nursery Live Boston Fern

This plant loves bright indirect light.


Pink azaleas
Yoshihide KIMURA/Shutterstock.com

Azaleas are beautiful flowering shrubs that are often used to enhance the visual appeal of gardens. However, all parts of the azalea plant, including the flowers and leaves, contain grayanotoxins, which can be highly toxic to dogs. Ingesting azaleas can lead to symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and even cardiovascular collapse.

Non-toxic alternative: Camellias are a safe alternative to azalea plants that are not toxic to dogs. Camellias are evergreen and dense, making them perfect for hedging, with large pink and white flowers.

Camellia Sinensis

This plant is slow-growing and easily maintained.


Hydrangeas in a garden
Julia Lototskaya/Shutterstock.com

Hydrangeas are loved for their large, colorful blooms and ability to thrive in various climates. However, these plants contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms of hydrangea poisoning in dogs include gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, depression, and changes in heart rate.

Non-toxic alternative: To replace hydrangeas with a safe alternative, consider planting roses. While they look a little different, roses add an undeniable beauty to any garden and do not contain any toxic components that may harm your dog.

Heirloom Roses Rose Bush

All roses are 12 to 16 months old and are delivered in one-gallon containers with rich soil.


Lavender flowers in a field
Maria Sedova/Shutterstock.com

Lavender is a popular aromatic herb known for its calming scent and medicinal properties. While small amounts of lavender are generally considered safe for dogs, consuming large amounts can cause digestive upset and potential central nervous system problems. Some dogs can also develop an allergic reaction to lavender.

Non-toxic alternative: To create a fragrant and safe garden environment, consider planting rosemary. Rosemary is a dog-friendly herb that adds a delightful aroma to your garden and can be used in cooking as well.

Sara's Superb Herbs

For best results, plant in USDA Zones 6 through 8.


Pink peonies

Peonies are stunning flowering plants that are highly prized for their large, colorful blossoms. However, peonies contain paeonol, a toxin that is harmful to both cats and dogs. If ingested, peonies can cause mild to moderate poisoning, including vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

Non-toxic alternative: If you want to bring some color to your garden, think about planting sunflowers. These bright flowers will make you smile every day, and give you peace of mind knowing they won’t hurt your pup.

Sow Right Sunflower Seeds

These seeds grow crazy tall huge beautiful sunflowers with heights of 8 to 12 feet.

What if My Dog Ate a Toxic Plant?

A dog at a vet

If you suspect that your dog has eaten a toxic plant, it is important to contact your veterinarian or a local animal poison control center for guidance. They will be able to advise you on what steps to take next and whether you need to bring your dog in for treatment. You can also contact Animal Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435.

Symptoms of plant toxicity in dogs can vary widely, but some common signs include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, tremors, and change in urine. Your veterinarian may ask you to bring a sample of the plant or a photo of the plant to help identify the toxin and determine the appropriate treatment. It is crucial to act quickly and seek veterinary care as soon as possible to prevent any serious health complications.

It’s also important to note that the above list is not extensive—there are many plants that pose a health risk to your dog when ingested. You can view the entire list on the ASPCA’s website.

Creating a dog-friendly garden is all about being knowledgeable and mindful of the plants you choose. By avoiding toxic plants and selecting non-toxic alternatives, you can ensure the safety and well-being of your furry friends while still enjoying a beautiful and vibrant garden.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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