By Sue McDonald, Bloomex.
For those who tend beloved gardens and also dote on our adorable “fur babies”, with pet friendly plants and flowers, we can relate to how much both are valued. Our four-legged family members are an important part of our lives and their curiosity, especially when young, is legendary. Some pets will nibble at or eat just about anything, including plants and flowers. We want them to enjoy the yard and garden as much as we do, but it’s important to make sure they are safe while they do so!
Unfortunately some plants and flowers are toxic to our furry friends, they are not pet friendly plants and flowers, and this list can vary for dogs, cats, horses and other companion animals. Certain “no-no” plants and flowers can cause anything from mild stomach upset to full out respiratory distress or even death. Signs of plant poisoning can include lethargy, drooling, bleeding gums, depression, vomiting, uncontrollable urination or thirst, dehydration and seizures.
If you think that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or your 24-hour emergency poison hotline.
The good news? You don’t have to give up a passion for flowers and gardening when you welcome a new cat or dog into your household! Check out the following lists for “good” and “bad” choices in your garden and when ordering pet friendly plants and flowers for yourself or for a recipient who has pets.
Please keep in mind that this list is not comprehensive, that effects can vary somewhat by an animal’s weight and breed, and that ingestion of even “safe” plants or flowers may cause some tummy troubles. We focused on dogs and cats as these are our most common household pets, and for more details or to inquire about other animals you are best to consult with your veterinarian or a reputable online pet care resource.
Plants to Avoid
According to the SPCA of Ontario, here are the most common poisonous plants. If your garden contains these varieties and your pet spends time unattended there, you may want to consider relocating or removing these choices, or supervising your furry friends when they are nearby.
According to Bloomex, Canada’s largest florist, a few varieties of lilies are relatively safe for dogs and horses, but almost all are super toxic to cats. “Even getting pollen on their tongue and licking their skin, ingesting just 2-3 petals, or drinking water from the vase can cause severe issues in a cat,” says Caroline Young, one of the head florists at Bloomex.” Some varieties such as lily of the valley are extremely poisonous or even deadly to many animals (including humans!) so exercise caution with where these are planted or delivered.”
Other species to avoid:
“For flowers, I would add Birds of Paradise, Iris, Poinsettia and Narcissus to the “best to avoid for pets” list,” adds Young. “Baby’s breath is usually okay for cats, but not good for dogs.”
Safer Plant and Flower Choices
Roses are a much beloved garden or flower choice, with over 100 species. According to Bloomex, roses remain one of the most popular flowers to send in Canada. “The good news is they are generally considered safe for dogs and cats,” says Young, “but watch out for the thorns as these can still cause scratches or wounds.”
Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and other Orchid specie are other generally safe choices for pet households, according to Bloomex. “But if you have a hungry cat or curious puppy and you don’t want your beautiful potted orchid destroyed, consider dusting the leaves with cinnamon or cayenne pepper,” advises Young. “You could also use a green apple spray which is safe but which most dogs detest, and which is available at most pet stores.”
Gerbera Daisies and Zinnia
Gerberas are colourful, cheerful and hearty. Another reason to love them? “Gerberas are another safe choice for most pets,” says Young. “If you are sending flowers to a household with a young animal, gerberas are an excellent choice that won’t cause stress in the “new parents.”” Zinnia, another member of the daisy family, is another great choice for the garden.
“Another wonderful choice for pet owners!”adds Young. Sunflower, or helianthus, is a genus of plants with approximately 70 species. “All of them are safe for not only animals but humans. Some people use sunflowers medicinally, such as to treat coughs, and of course sunflower seeds make a tasty and nutritious snack, so these flowers are an excellent choice for pet households too.”
Vibrant and colourful, petunias, including grandiflora, multiflora, milliflora and spreading types are all considered safe for pets. So planting petunias in a yard with pets is a great choice.
From the amaranth family, celosia with its interesting, spiky plumes is another beautiful flowering annual that is a good choice for pet parents! Its varieties have different bloom times and come in a wide array of colours to safely liven up any garden.
Another annual that is well tolerated by pets, these plants in hues of gold, orange and copper bring cheer to any garden space. Marigolds bloom from late spring to early frost and are super easy to grow. Known as “herb of the sun” these bright flowers have added benefits: they attract bees and ladybugs, but seem to deter deer and rabbits (depending on how hungry these critters are). Bonus? Marigolds will also repel mosquitoes as well as insects that enjoy tomato plants! They also make excellent cut bouquets from your own garden.
If you aren’t sure, check with your vet or consult a reliable list of plants that are safe or toxic for your particular pet. Let friends and family know about the dangers of certain plants and flowers, and that way you or they can ask an experienced florist before selecting a gift to send to pet parents. Walk your garden and review your plant choices for any area in which your pet may spend time unattended.
This article on garden pests may be of interest.
This way we get to balance our love of beautiful plants and flowers, with love for our furry companions!