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COLUMN: Poisonous plants and pets

Patricia Miller, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County
Posted 5/21/23

There are many ways a pet can get at a poisonous plant: houseplants, gardens, floral arrangements, and even cuttings discarded in the garbage.

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COLUMN: Poisonous plants and pets


There are many ways a pet can get at a poisonous plant: houseplants, gardens, floral arrangements, and even cuttings discarded in the garbage. Also, different animals can react differently to the same plant.

This is a brief guide to protecting your animals from sickness or even death related to toxic plants.

Some commonly toxic plants catch people unaware. All species of lilies are one. They are very toxic, even the pollen. Another is marijuana. One more is garlic. These three are usually readily recognized. For other plants, the first step is to know the plant’s identity. When bringing new plants into your home, you need to consider plant identification anyway.

So this is a great time to take the extra step and check for potential toxicity. Plant nurseries and florists can help with identification. If that is unsuccessful, you can try a reverse image search. Identifying the plant is important when using the best pet poison websites, even though the websites often include photographs. Knowing the identity of the plant can save precious time.

If your animal eats a plant that might be toxic, it is good to be able to distinguish between one that makes them sick for a limited time and one that can kill. Often, the most serious effects take time; therefore, gathering your information as soon as possible is best. While numerous websites can assist, two of the best and most comprehensive care comes from the ASPCA at and the Pet Poison Helpline at From there, find the red rectangle called CATEGORIES and click on the filter icon, then select plants.

There are some significant differences between these websites. The ASPCA focuses only on cats, dogs, and horses. They have printable lists of toxic and non-toxic plants by type of animal. This list can be beneficial when obtaining new plants. Also, the plant pictures seem to be bigger and better than at the Pet Poison Helpline. The Poison Plant Helpline not only covers cats, dogs, and horses but also reptiles, birds, and fish. By going to their Toxic Trends listings, you may scroll down and select the type of animal. Also, it often, but not always, indicates the toxicity level. Both websites let you look for toxic household products that might be used for gardening.

Each website has a hotline, although they do charge fees. Cornell College of Agriculture & Life Sciences has information on poisonous plants for dogs at The College of Veterinary Medicine has information on poisonous plants for cats at search cats.

In summary, regarding poison plants and your animals, it is best to:

1. Become familiar with the poison plants websites before your pet eats a plant.

2. When you buy/receive plants check for toxicity to your pets before you use the plant.

3. Post your veterinarian’s phone number and the hotline numbers in an easily accessible and easily remembered spot.

An emergency is not the time to be fumbling for information.

Home and garden questions can be emailed to or call 315-736-3394, press 1 and then ext. 333. Leave your question, name, and phone number. Questions are answered weekdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, visit our website at or phone 315-736-3394, press 1 and then Ext 100.


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