In your garden/ household plants
There are many different plants commonly found in gardens around
the country that could make your dog ill. Some of these are highly
poisonous, while others may only cause a mild tummy upset. Plants
also vary in attractiveness to dogs; a shrub may sit in your garden
for years without being touched by them, while a fallen conker or
acorn may instantly appear enticing the moment it hits the ground.
Deciding what to keep in your garden will not only depend on the
toxicity of the plant, but also how inquisitive your dog is.
Poisoning from acorns is most likely to occur in the autumn
months when these fruits have fallen to the ground. A one off
feast of acorns is likely to cause vomiting, diarrhoea, both of
which may be bloody, and may cause the dog to become sleepy.
Eating acorns regularly may cause kidney or liver problems, while
eating large amounts may cause an obstruction.
Compost/ Mouldy foods
Mouldy foods can contain lots of different toxins and, if eaten,
may make your dog ill. One particular substance, which is
mostly found on mouldy dairy products, bread and nuts, can cause
dogs to quickly develop muscle tremors and seizures, which may last
for up to two days. If you compost your food scraps, then
make sure that they are kept outside in a sealed container that
your dog can not access.
Most species of Christmas tree are of low toxicity, but oils
from the needles may be irritating to the mouth and stomach,
causing excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhoea if chewed.
Needles from these trees are sharp and can cause physical
Fungi (also known as wild mushrooms or toadstools)
There are thousands of different fungi in the UK, varying
dramatically in shape, size, colour and how poisonous they are.
Although some fungi may be fairly distinct in appearance, it is
incredibly difficult to identify most wild mushrooms. Some fungi
are edible, while others are extremely dangerous, and sadly it is
not always easy to tell the difference between the two. Signs of
poisoning may vary dramatically depending on the type of fungi
eaten, and may include stomach upset, blood in the stools or vomit,
neurological effects such as hallucinations or fits, kidney or
liver failure. The type of fungi eaten will determine the onset of
effects, which can be very sudden, i.e. ten minutes after eating
the fungi, or may be delayed by days, or even in some rare
instances by several weeks.
If your dog does eat an unknown wild mushroom, take them to the
vets immediately and if possible, bring along a picture, or ideally
a sample of the fungi in a paper bag, or carefully wrapped in paper
(do not wrap or place in a plastic bag). Take note of the area
where the fungi was found (i.e. was it growing in grass or on a
tree stump etc.) as this may help experts identify what fungi your
dog has eaten should they become ill.
This plant is generally considered to be of low toxicity, but
the spikey leaves may cause physical damage if eaten, and the
berries can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
This vine may cause a tummy upset if eaten, while substantial or
prolonged skin contact can cause severe irritation, or an allergic
contact dermatitis. Not to be confused with American poison ivy
(Toxicodendron radicans), which is not commonly found in the
This festive shrub is considered to be of low toxicity, but the
berries may cause a tummy upset if eaten. Some reports
suggest that mistletoe is very poisonous, but these refer to
American mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens), which is native to
warm temperate and tropical regions of the Americas, rather than
European mistletoe (Viscum album), which is native to Europe.
Poinsettia is often said to be very toxic, but the potency of
this plant is often greatly exaggerated. Whilst it may not be as
poisonous as you think, it can still cause excessive salivation and
Apicots, nectarines, damsons, cherries, plumbs, peaches and
cherry laurel all belong to thePrunusfamily. If the seeds, or
stones of these fruits are chewed and swallowed, it can cause toxic
effects. The stones of these fruits contain cyanogenic glycosides,
which can be broken down by enzymes to produce hydrogen
cyanide. Effects may appear very quickly, or may be delayed
and can include frothing at the mouth, large pupils, breathing
difficulties and sudden death. Stones swallowed whole are
less likely to cause severe effects, but may still cause a stomach
upset, or may cause an obstruction.
Old or spent fireworks can contain hazardous chemicals which can
be poisonous to your dog. Initially these poisons can cause
vomiting, diarrhoea, tummy pain and/ or bloody stools. More
severe effects may include seizures and the chemicals may also
affect your dog's breathing, kidneys and liver. If you let
your dog into your garden unsupervised after, or around bonfire
night, make sure that you first pick up and throw away any rubbish
that may have fallen into your garden.
Incidents of poisoning from spring bulbs are most likely to
occur from dogs eating the bulbs in autumn when they are planted,
or in spring when they begin to flower.
- Daffodils - Effects from poisoning can include vomiting,
stomach upset and salivation, but can escalate to dogs appearing
sleepy, wobbly on their legs, or collapsing. In more serious cases
fits and changes to heart rate, body temperature and blood
pressure. Dogs can also become unwell if the flowers are eaten, or
if water from a vase containing daffodils is drunk.
- Tulips - the toxins found in this plant cause irritation to the
mouth and gastrointestinal tract and usually only result in
drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. Serious cases are rare, but
effects could include heart problems and breathing
- Spring crocus - these flower in spring and are said to be of
low toxicity and may only cause a mild stomach upset if eaten.
These bulbs are not to be confused with autumn crocus, which flower
in autumn and can cause severe stomach upset, kidney and liver
problems and bone marrow depression.
Toads secrete venom from glands found on their skin that can be
poisonous to pets that bite them, pick them up in their mouth or
lick them. Toads are most active in warmer months and may be more
easily found by your dog after rain or at dawn or dusk. The toads
venom can cause irritation in the mouth, leading to apparent pain,
salivation and pawing at the mouth. In more severe cases it can
cause behavioural changes (the dog being wobbly on its legs,
appearing disorientated or anxious), increased breathing, heart
rate changes and fits.
Toads commonly eat slugs and snails and therefore could be a
source of lungworm for dogs.
List of poisonous plants
For a larger list of some plants that may be harmful to your
dog, please click
Tips on how to poison-proof your home
When planting a number of bulbs, make sure to either keep your
dog out of reach of the bulbs, or keep the bulbs in a sealed
container and take each one out as you plant it.
How to use this information
The information is intended to be used to prevent poisoning by
raising awareness of certain poisons, rather than as a document to
be used in an emergency. If you suspect that your dog has been
poisoned, or has come into contact with potentially poisonous
substances, contact your local veterinary practice immediately.
The lists of poisons in this information guide are not
exhaustive. If an item is not mentioned in this guide it should not
be assumed that it is not poisonous. Further advice on substances
that could harm your dog could be sought from your local veterinary
Who can I contact for further advice?
The Kennel Club is not a veterinary organisation and is unable
to provide general or case specific veterinary advice. If you
have any questions regarding any of the issues discussed in this
article then please contact your local veterinary practice for
What to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned
If you think that your dog may have eaten, touched or inhaled
something that it shouldn't have, consult your local veterinary
Do not try to make your dog sick. Trying to do this can cause
other complications, which may harm your dog.
In an emergency you can help your veterinary practice make an
informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be treated by
them, and if so, what the best treatment would be. Where possible
you should provide your veterinary practice with information
- What poison you think your dog has been exposed to (i.e.
chocolate, ibuprofen, etc.). Include any product names, or lists of
ingredients if relevant
- How much they may have been exposed to (i.e. 500mg, 500ml, one
tablet etc, even approximations may help)
- When your dog was exposed to the poison (i.e. 5 minutes, 5
hours or 5 days ago)
- If your dog has been unwell, and if so, what clinical effects
have been seen
It is easier for a veterinarian to care for a poisoned dog if it
is treated sooner rather than later. If you are in any doubt, do
not wait for your dog to become unwell before calling for
If you do need to take your dog to your veterinary practice,
make sure that you take along any relevant packaging, or a sample
of the poison, i.e. parts of plant or fungi. Always make sure that
you yourself are protected and cannot be poisoned in turn.