Poisonous Plants and Other Garden Dangers to Pets

Summertime of course has our pets spending more time in the garden and outdoors.  Are you aware of some of the most common dangers your pet could be exposed to? Things like poisonous plants, slugs and snail bait, weed killers and much more.


Slug and snail baits

Anti-slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde can cause dangerous seizures in pets and can be life threatening. If you have a pet, consider pet-friendly options such as surrounding your plants with a layer of broken sea shells or egg shells, diatomaceous earth, sand paper or other “rough” material. These surfaces will deter slugs and snails, and will fatally injure the ones who decide to make the trek. You can also deter snails by placing thin copper bands around your plants. Use a tuna can to make a beer trap. Simply fill it with beer (fresh daily) and the slugs will crawl into the can and drown.

Weed killers and fertilizers

Although most that are allowed in Toronto are safe for pets to walk on once dry, the liquid form is highly irritating, causing dogs and cats to lick at their paws especially if the area is damp from spray or recent rainfall.

Many fertilizers are very rich in salts and minerals and can cause both irritation to feet, mouth and intestines and build-up to toxic levels such as iron toxicity causing liver damage.


Most dog owners don’t realize that compost can be one of the most toxic and deadly substances. Compost is especially dangerous as the decomposing organic matter can contain fungi which produce neurotoxins called tremorgenic mycotoxins. These neurotoxins can be present in garbage or mouldy food as well. Symptoms of acute compost toxicity can include agitation, hyperthermia (increased temperature), vomiting, panting, drooling, tremors and seizures. Consuming even a small amount of compost containing tremorgenic mycotoxins can be deadly.

Toxic or Poisonous Plants

hostas can be toxic to dogs

hostas can be toxic to dogs

Lilies can be toxic to dogs

Lilies can be toxic to dogs

A number of garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats. These include Azalea, Rhodendron, Babies Breath, Cyclamen, Daffodils (especially the bulbs), Gladiola, Lilies, Hosta ( very common in Toronto Gardens) and Tulip bulbs.  In your vegetable garden, beware of onions and garlic!

This is by no means an exhaustive list but these are all common in local Toronto gardens and are either toxic enough to provide discomfort to dogs and in some cases may prove lethal.

Make sure you are aware of which plants in your garden are toxic. Keep compost completely fenced in and inaccessible to your dogs. But above all, supervise your pets when they are outdoors.  Have a safe summer!

~ Pet Photographer, Toronto ~