By Don MacGillivray

While our gardens are a thing of beauty, danger lurks in plain sight for both humans and our animal friends. Generally people know enough not to eat flowers, but our pets can easily sample something that can injure them or worse.

Lilies are one of these plants. The entire plant is poisonous to cats. Incidents involving cats and to a lesser extent dogs are not unusual. When cats ingest true lilies kidney failure can result and it can be fatal if proper care is not available.

All parts of plant, even pollen, from Asiatic lilies, Easter lilies, Regale lilies, Tiger lilies, Oriental lilies as well as Day-lilies are dangerous. Other species of the lily family are also harmful, but less so. Symptoms can include vomiting, listlessness, diarrhea, excessive salivation, or tremors.

There are days in the year remembered with flowers such as Easter and Mother’s Day, when accidents can occur. Kidney treatments may take up to three days of intravenous fluid therapy in a veterinary hospital.

Most people simply lack a good awareness about which plants have toxic characteristics to both animals and humans. It would be wise to learn which ones are dangerous and make sure they cannot inadvertently be a problem.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(ASPCA) is the gold standard for information about the care for pets. On their website is a list of over four hundred dangerous plants. Other toxic flowers include: azaleas, begonias, English ivy, chrysanthemums, irises, daffodils, daisies, and rhododendrons. The ASPCA has a list of over 500 non-toxic plants.

Your landscaped garden is not the only place to be  concerned about. Houseplants can be toxic too. The Sago Palm, Kalanchoe, Dracaena, Asparagus Fern, and many others may cause health issues with pets or humans.

Common homegrown vegetables have plant parts that are toxic. The list includes: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, rhubarb leaves, broccoli, and asparagus.

The best way to avoid trouble is to remove toxic plants and replace them with non-toxic varieties.

Place plants strategically in your garden so pets will not go near dangerous plants. Suggestions include: create paths where your pets naturally walk, create places desirable to pets surrounded by only non-toxic plants, use raised beds, use plants with thorns or that repel pets from those plants that are toxic.

For information, contact the ASPCA ( or Dove Lewis Veterinary Hospital (