Summer Plant Watch List

Most people rely on their eyes to take in the world around them. For our pets, their vision is fine — but they lean more heavily on scent and taste. That tendency may not serve their best interest in summertime, when our yards are lush with plants in the garden and landscaping. The very plants we treasure may be poisonous to our dogs and cats, and the mulch and plant treatments aren’t any better.  In fact, a 2012 analysis of pet insurance claims showed that ailments and pet safety issues rose in the summer months, thanks in part to the availability of toxic plants. Mulching presents safety issues, ranging from the simple choking hazard of hardwood mulches to the toxic effects of cocoa mulch. The sweet-smelling ground enhancement, made from the shells of the cocoa bean, can contain a substance that’s poisonous to pets — the same substance that makes chocolate dangerous for your dog. 

Also Watch Out For…

  • Tomato plants. They contain a substance called tomatine found in the greens, fruit and stems of the plant, which can cause upset stomach and weakness.
  • Rhubarb. Ingesting rhubarb leaves can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Tulips. Yes, they bloom in the springtime, but even their bulbs are toxic — more so, in fact, than the leafy portion or the flower.
  • Crocuses. Some bloom in the spring, others in the fall.  Spring blooming bulbs are non-toxic; fall bloomers are toxic.
  • Lilies. Highly toxic to cats and dogs— even if they drink the water in a vase of lilies.
  • Sago palm. Every bit of this plant is highly toxic to dogs. Signs range from severe vomiting to liver failure to death.
  • Lily of the Valley. Toxic to pets. In addition to some of the signs other plants can cause, add an erratic heartbeat to the list.

Given the many varieties of plants that can poison and sicken your pets, it’s best to make sure your pets are under your watchful eye whenever they’re exposed to your household flora and ground treatments. Keep handy your veterinarian’s contact information and the pet poison-control line. Call when your pet has ingested any potential toxin. Finally, a note about another summertime scourge from the plant world: poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. This warning may be more for your benefit than your pet’s. While dogs can develop that itchy skin rash from exposure to these plants’ irritating oils, their hairy coats typically protect them. Unfortunately, those oils can rub off your pet’s coat and onto your skin if you aren’t careful about keeping your dog and cat out of the poison ivy patch. For specially formulated healthy pet food, visit ROYAL CANIN FELINE HEALTH NUTRITION cat food products or ROYAL CANIN CANINE HEALTH NUTRITION dog food.


Summer Pet Poisons- Pet Poison Helpline

What Plants are Toxic to Cats?- Mother Nature Network

Plants Poisonous to Dogs
- Mother Nature Network

Pets and Summer Activities- Veterinary Pet Insurance

Pets and Toxic Plants- Veterinary Pet Insurance

Poison Ivy and Pets- Veterinary Pet Insurance

Cocoa Mulch-


  • Keep an eye on your pets whenever they’re around plants and gardens. 
  • Don’t let them roam unattended in the woods. 
  • Keep your veterinarian’s contact information handy to get attention quickly.