Summer plant dangers for pets: How to keep your furry friends safe

As summer arrives and surroundings are alive with colour, it’s the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. But amongst the vibrant sights and smells, there are hidden dangers that could be a threat to our furry friends.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Summer plants can be fatal to pets and are often a hidden danger, as owners don’t always realise how much their furry family member could be at risk. Luckily, it’s not common for dogs to choose to eat a significant portion of these plants, but it’s sensible to keep an eye on them while you’re out walking – just in case they do fancy a nibble!

“Every year our Pet Hospitals see pets that have unexpectedly been poisoned and require urgent care. Throughout 2023, PDSA treated around 539 cases of poisonings related to plants. Fast and effective treatment can save lives, but severe cases can prove fatal.

Wild plants  

“If you’re out on a walk in woodland or countryside, beware of wild plants like foxgloves and lily of the valley. Whilst appealing to the eye, they are highly toxic to pets if ingested and can lead to some serious symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, irregular heart rhythms and, in severe cases, death.

“Another plant that to be wary of is Giant Hogweed. Also present in spring and autumn, this plant is highly toxic and can cause serious problems in both pets and their owners. Whilst it isn’t common in the UK, Giant Hogweed is potentially much more dangerous than other wild plants because symptoms can be picked up just from brushing past it. Giant Hogweed contains toxins that can lead to skin burns and blisters and whilst pets have some protection from their fur, delicate areas like the ears, around the eyes, mouth, and belly can be affected. Even more damage can be caused if the sap gets on your pet’s coat and is licked off or enters their eyes.

“Whilst out walking, be mindful of your pet’s whereabouts and, if you know your dog has a tendency to munch on foliage, keep them away from areas with plants which could potentially cause harm. If you are walking in new areas or are unsure about the safety of some of the plants in your surroundings, I’d always recommend keeping your dog on a lead.

In the garden 

“There are also dangers closer to home. Rhododendrons, Geraniums, and Hydrangeas are examples of summer flowers found in avid gardeners’ outdoor spaces, but they can be toxic for dogs and cats if eaten.

“Beware if you harvest your own fruit and vegetables too. Allium species, such as onions and garlic, should be avoided, whilst many unripe fruits and raw, sprouting root vegetables can also cause damage. The leaves of rhubarb, tomato, and potato plants are toxic to your pet, and toxicity levels and the impact they have will depend on amounts consumed.

“If you’re planting your autumn bulbs now, don’t forget to keep these away from your pets, too – especially autumn crocus bulbs (Colchicum autumnale), which can be dangerous to them.

“Be sure to check your garden to see what plants you have growing and, before planting anything new, speak to your local garden centre for advice on pet-safe blooms. If you do have any toxic plants growing then ideally you should remove the plants altogether but if this is not an option, barriers around the area will help avoid furry family members coming into contact with them.

Other dangers 

“It’s also important to remember that pesticides or weed killer on plants can be toxic – even if the plant itself is safe. For many reasons, it’s best to avoid using pesticides or weed killers in your garden. Monitor your pet closely if you’re out and about, to check they’re not encountering anything that could be dangerous.

“Compost heaps or bins require additional caution, as piles of leaves or grass cuttings can contain harmful bacteria and mould, so it’s important to make sure you’re clearing your garden waste into a secure bin that’s out of reach of any curious paws.

Signs of poisoning 

“Signs of poisoning vary depending on what and how much your pet has eaten, but vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling and lack of appetite are tell-tale signs. In more serious cases, plant poisoning can show as seizure, collapse, and/or breathlessness.

“It’s important to seek vet treatment immediately if you think your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have. Symptoms of poisoning can show straight away or days later, but don’t wait for signs to develop – this could have fatal consequences for your pet. If possible, take a photo of the offending item with you to the vet so they can determine the best form of treatment.”

For further advice and to view a full list of poisonous plants, visit:

Don't miss out!
Subscribe To Newsletter

Receive top cat news, competitions, tips and more!

Invalid email address
Give it a try. You can unsubscribe at any time.

1 thoughts on “Summer plant dangers for pets: How to keep your furry friends safe

Why not meow a comment to fellow readers?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.