How to keep your garden safe for pets

Gardening can be therapeutic for many, and a well-maintained garden is a beautiful place to spend a sunny afternoon. But if you’re a pet owner, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks lurking within that beauty. Many common plants can be toxic to our furry friends. By staying informed and making sure that your garden is tailored for pet safety, you can enjoy the best of both worlds — a beautiful garden and a safe environment for your furry friends. Let’s dive into how to make sure your garden remains a safe place for your pets. 

What plants are toxic for dogs? 

Some of the more common plants that can be toxic to dogs include: 

  • Autumn crocus 
  • Azaleas 
  • Black locust 
  • Bleeding heart 
  • Buttercups 
  • Castor bean 
  • Cherries (wild and cultivated) 
  • Daffodil 
  • Daphne 
  • Dieffenbachia (dumb cane) 
  • Elderberry 
  • Elephant ear 
  • Foxgolve 
  • Golden chain 
  • Hyacinth 
  • Jack in the pulpit 
  • Jasmine 
  • Jimson weed (thorn apple) 
  • Lantana camara (red sage) 
  • Larkspur 
  • Laurels 
  • Lily of the valley 
  • Mayapple 
  • Mistletoe 
  • Monkshood 
  • Moonseed 
  • Narcissus 
  • Nightshade 
  • Oak tree 
  • Oleander 
  • Poison hemlock 
  • Rhododendrons 
  • Rhubarb 
  • Rosary pea 
  • Star of bethlehem 
  • Water hemlock 
  • Wisteria 
  • Yew. 

If a plant in your garden is not listed here it does not mean that it is not toxic to your dog. Please refer to updated listings such as from the Animal Poison Control Centre and Animal Emergency Service

What common garden plants are toxic to cats? 

Cats can be affected by many of the same plants as dogs, but they also have their own list of no-gos. Common ones include: 

Flowering plants 

  • Amaryllis 
  • Asian lily 
  • Autumn crocus 
  • Bird of paradise 
  • Climbing lily 
  • Cyclamen 
  • Daffodil 
  • Day lily 
  • Easter lily 
  • Elephant ear 
  • Gladiola 
  • Hyacinth 
  • Hydrangea 
  • Iris 
  • Kalanchoe 
  • Lily of the valley 
  • Narcissus 
  • Poinsettia 
  • Rubrum lily 
  • Stargazer lily 
  • Tiger lily 
  • Tulip 
  • Wood lily 


  • Asparagus fern 
  • Emerald feather 
  • Lace fern 
  • Plumosa fern 

Indoor plants 

  • Aglaonema 
  • Arrowhead vine 
  • Dracaena deremensis 
  • Dracaena fragrans 
  • Dracaena marginata 


  • Anthurium 
  • Arum or calla lily 
  • Hellebore 
  • Morning glory 
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue 
  • Nightshade 
  • Pussy’s ears 


  • Aloe vera 
  • Chandelier plant 
  • Crown of thorns 
  • Devil’s backbone 
  • Firestick 
  • Mother of millions 
  • Mother of thousands 
  • Panda plant 
  • Pencil cactus 
  • Pencil tree plant 
  • Jade plant 
  • Snake plant 
  • String of pearls 
  • String of peas plant 

Due to their grooming behaviour, plant toxicity can result not only from eating the plant but also from licking pollen or plant fibres off their fur that they may have brushed past – or even licking vase water. 

If a plant in your garden is not listed here it does not mean that it is not toxic to your cat. Please refer to updated listings such as from the Animal Poison Control Centre and Animal Emergency Service

Safety tips for growing these plants with pets 

If you’re keen on having these plants in your garden while ensuring your pet’s safety, here are some common workarounds that pet owners use: 

  • Fencing: Consider installing fencing or barriers around toxic plants to prevent access. 
  • Elevated planters: Using raised garden beds or hanging pots can put plants out of your pet’s reach. 
  • Training: Train your pets not to chew on plants. Using a pet-friendly repellent spray on the plants can also deter them. 
  • Opt for non-toxic plants: Consider replacing highly toxic plants with pet-safe alternatives. 

It’s also important to make sure any fertilisers or snail pellets are out of bounds for curious pets. 

What signs to look out for that your pet has consumed a toxic plant 

If your dog has ingested a harmful plant, you may notice these signs: 

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea 
  • Drooling 
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Changes in drinking or urination patterns 
  • Lethargy or restlessness 
  • Irregular heartbeat. 

Here’s what to do next: 

  • Stay calm: Panic won’t help your pet. Make sure they’re safe and not consuming more of the plant. 
  • Identify the plant: If possible, identify the plant your pet has consumed and take a picture. 
  • Contact the vet: Call your vet immediately, providing them with details about the plant ingested and any symptoms your pet is showing. 
  • Follow vet instructions: Your vet will guide you on the next steps, whether it’s inducing vomiting or coming in for a check-up. 

How to keep dogs safe on walks 

When walking your dog in areas with potentially harmful plants, it’s important to: 

  • Stay on the path: Encourage your dog to stick to designated paths and avoid wandering into bushy areas. It’s not just potential toxic plants to be aware of, remember to look out for rose thorns and prickly plants too. 
  • Prioritise leash training: Make sure your dog is well-trained on a leash so you can have control when needed. 
  • Stay aware of the area: Familiarise yourself with the local flora and avoid areas known to house large amounts of toxic plants, or flowering plants that may attract bees. 
  • Check post-walk: Always check your dog’s mouth, paws, and fur after walks to make sure that no plant material has hitched a ride. 

Springtime brings on new challenges to caring for our pets when in the outdoors. Just as we might suffer from hay fever during peak pollen seasons, our furry friends can also experience discomfort and health issues. If you’re keen to understand the world of pollen and its impact on our pets, read on. 

What is pollen? 

Pollen is a fine powdery substance, typically yellow in colour, produced by plants. It comprises microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower or from a male cone. These grains have a singular purpose: to fertilise the female ovule of the same plant species. While this process is essential for the survival and reproduction of plants, it’s the airborne nature of pollen that often leads to allergies in both humans and pets. 

How can pollen affect pets? 

Cats, with their nimble bodies and curious nature, love to roam amidst greenery. However, this interaction exposes them to pollen, which can lead to a range of symptoms. With their active lifestyle, dogs are equally susceptible to pollen. Here’s how pollen can impact some pets: 

Respiratory symptoms: Just like humans, sensitive pets might experience wheezing, coughing, and sneezing when exposed to high pollen counts. 

Skin irritation: Pets might experience itching, especially around their ears, paws and face. It’s common to see dogs and cats scratching, biting, or licking these areas excessively when affected by pollen. 

Eye problems: Pollen can cause red, itchy and watery eyes. 

How can pet parents keep sensitive dogs safe from pollen on walks? 

Taking dogs out for a walk is crucial for their well-being. However, during peak pollen seasons, some precautions can help sensitive dogs: 

  • Check pollen counts: Before heading out, check the day’s pollen count. If it’s particularly high, try to avoid walks during peak hours, which are typically early morning and late afternoon. 
  • Choose the right path: Opt for routes that have fewer flowering plants. This might mean avoiding certain parks or gardens during high pollen seasons. 
  • Wipe them down: After the walk, use a damp cloth to wipe down your dog’s body, legs, and paws. This removes any pollen that might be clinging to their fur. 

How can pet parents keep cats safe from pollen when outside? 

If your cat enjoys the outdoors, here are some tips to keep them safe from pollen: 

  • Limit outdoor time: During high pollen days, restrict the amount of time your cat spends outside. 
  • Create a clean space: Make sure there’s a designated, clean area for your cat to relax outdoors, away from heavy vegetation. 
  • Regular grooming: Brushing your cat daily helps remove pollen and reduces the chance of skin reactions. If your cat allows, you can also use a damp cloth to gently wipe them down. 
  • Window screens: If you’re keeping windows open, make sure they’re fitted with screens. This prevents the bulk of the pollen from entering while allowing your cat to enjoy the fresh air. 

While pollen is a natural part of our environment, it can pose challenges for our pets. As always, if you notice severe reactions or if symptoms persist, it’s essential to consult with your vet. With a bit of care, awareness, and timely action, we can ensure that our pets enjoy the outdoors without the pesky problems that pollen can bring. 

Does spring bring on new challenges in managing your pet’s health? Book a FREE phone discussion with a vet to understand how plant-based therapies could help. 

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