Spring Plants that are Toxic to Dogs – and Other Spring Hazards

Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming, and you’re enjoying more time outside with your dog, whether that’s in the garden or out on walks. But, did you know that some of the beautiful flowers and plants that appear in the spring can be poisonous to our dogs? These sweet-smelling blooms can be very tempting for our curious pups to chew or eat, and so it’s important to keep an eye out for these potentially toxic plants to make sure your dog is kept out of harm’s way.

7 Common Spring Flowers That Are Toxic to Dogs

Spring plants toxic to dogs


While these bright yellow flowers are welcomed by many as a cheerful sign that spring is here, they are toxic to both dogs and cats.

Daffodils contain irritant compounds that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling. In severe cases, they have been known to cause collapse, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and a slowed heart rate, though these symptoms are not common.

Dogs don’t have to have eaten daffodils to be affected – drinking water from a vase containing daffodils can be toxic too.


There are two kinds of crocus, one that blooms in the spring, and another that flowers in the autumn.

The spring crocus is the less dangerous of the two, causing general gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

Autumn crocuses contain a highly toxic substance called colchicine, which can cause more severe gastrointestinal issues, as well as liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure, seizures, and even death.


Known for their large, brightly coloured flowers, tulips are among the first spring flowers to emerge after winter.

Unfortunately they can irritate your dogs mouth and stomach if eaten, causing vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling. In more serious cases where a lot of tulips have been eaten, they can also cause heart problems and breathing difficulties in dogs.

All parts of the tulip plant are poisonous to dogs, but the toxins are most concentrated in the bulbs.


If you like to walk your dog through woodland areas, watch out for this spring flower. With their signature blue hue, bluebells transform the landscape in woodland areas in the spring, but they can cause problems for your dog.

A dog that eats bluebells might only suffer from an upset tummy, but bluebells also contain a toxin that can affect the heart, causing it to beat very quickly or very slowly – however it’s rare for a dog to eat enough bluebells to cause these effects.


Azaleas are part of the rhododendron family, and all types of rhododendrons are potentially toxic to dogs. All parts of these brightly coloured flowers are poisonous to them, and only a very small amount needs to be ingested for poisoning to occur.

Azaleas and other rhododendrons can interfere with the muscles and cause symptoms ranging from an upset stomach, to an irregular heartbeat, tremors and seizures.


Hyacinths are from the same family as the tulip, and can cause very similar symptoms. As well as irritation to the mouth and throat, symptoms of hyacinth ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, and potentially heart and breathing problems in severe cases.

Most incidences of hyacinth poisoning occur when a dog has access to a bag of bulbs, because, like most other spring plants, these are the most toxic parts.


Although we often think of them as brilliantly purple, irises actually come in a whole spectrum of different colours and there are as many as 250 different varieties. Most iris flowers bloom in summer, but there are some early bulbous varieties like Iris reticulata that flower in early spring.

If a dog ingests irises, they may suffer from tissue irritation, as well as digestive upset, drooling and lethargy.

Other popular spring flowers and plants that can be toxic to dogs include snowdrops, geraniums, and yew, but this is not an exhaustive list.

How Dangerous are These Plants for Dogs?

Many of the plants and flowers mentioned, including tulips, crocuses and hyacinths, are considered to be of low toxicity to dogs. Many will only cause mild symptoms, and some plants will only cause problems in dogs if certain parts are eaten, such as the bulbs or berries.

However, it is still best to try and prevent your dog from eating any plants, regardless of whether they have been identified as toxic. Any plant material has the potential to cause gastrointestinal problems in your dog, especially if a lot is eaten in a short time. Not all dogs are affected in the same way, and a certain plant may affect one dog very seriously, but cause no symptoms in another.

Symptoms of Plant Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog ingests toxic plants, symptoms may include:

  • Drooling
  • Low energy
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (sometimes parts of the plant may be visible, and there may be blood in the poo)
  • Rashes or redness on the skin
  • Drinking or urinating more
  • Eating less or not at all
  • Pale gums
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tremors or seizures
  • Collapse

Contact your vet immediately if you are concerned that your dog has ingested a poisonous flower or they are showing any of the symptoms above. Some animals may require treatment to control vomiting and replace lost fluids.

Other Spring Hazards for Dogs

It’s not just poisonous flowers that dog owners need to be aware of throughout the spring. Bulbs, mushrooms, grass seeds, pesticides and weed killer can also pose significant dangers.


As well as many plants flowering at this time of year, spring is also the prime time to plant bulbs for summer-blooming flowers. These include dahlias, lilies and gladioli, all of which can be very toxic to dogs.

In general, the bulbs tend to be the most poisonous part of flowers, as the toxins are most concentrated here – so keep a close eye on your dog if they are a keen digger. Bulbs can also pose a choking hazard.

Mushroom and Toadstools

While fungi are mostly a problem in the autumn, there are some species of mushroom and toadstools that grow in the spring. As well as gastrointestinal problems, some fungi can cause behavioural changes, hallucinations and even kidney and liver failure.

There are thousands of species of fungi and they can be very difficult to identify, so it’s best to keep your dog away from all of them.

If your dog does eat a mushroom and there is some left, take photos of it (including the underside) and the area it was found, and then dig it up to take with you to the vet. This will help your vet identify the type of fungus.

Grass Seeds

Grass seeds are arrow-shaped with pointy ends and can become lodged in your dog’s skin, ears or eyes. They can also be inhaled and get stuck in the nose or mouth. Grass seeds start to appear in late spring and are most rife during the summer months.

Grass seeds can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog, and if left embedded in your dog, they can sometimes migrate through the body’s tissues causing painful inflammation.

Weed Killers and Pesticides

Weeds can be frustrating for gardeners, but it’s always best to avoid using pesticides or weed killers in your garden if you have a pet. These products often contain chemicals that are toxic to dogs and cats.

If your pet walks on a treated lawn, wash their paws to prevent ingestion of any garden chemicals, especially if you see them licking or chewing at their paws.

Wrapping Up

While brightly coloured flowers are a welcome sign of spring arriving, some can cause your dog to become unwell. Monitor your dog closely when you’re out on walks to check they’re not encountering anything that could be dangerous. When pruning plants in the garden, keep your dog out of the way where possible, and always remove the cuttings straight away. Keeping a close eye on your dog all of the time can be difficult, so you may not know your dog has eaten a poisonous flower until they start to show symptoms. If you suspect they may have eaten a toxic plant, always contact your vet as soon as possible. You can also speak to the Animal Poison Line on 01202 509000 for advice.

Biography of Animed vet, Karin Volker, MRCVS
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