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Dog owners and your approach to toxic plants.

I've list four plants below that we want to put in our garden. We have a five month old dog. We're new to both gardening and dog ownership. W Is there any of the plants below (all listed as dog toxic on some site or other) that we should absolutely avoid that is seriously toxic in small doses? Are we being reckless? We intend to deal with toxic plant risk through training.

- Aucuba japonica
- Pieris (Little Heath)
- Nandina Domestica
- Bloombux (Rhododendron micranthum)

There is lots of information out there but it is very binary (toxic y/n) and little info in the way of degrees of toxicity / toxic dose level / fatal dose level (if fatal). I've also read on other GW threads that the best thing to do is to train your dog not to eat fallen leaves/plants; or your dog will sniff out bitter tasting toxins and not be interested; or they will never eat enough to be dangerously toxic; or there will be far more dangerous things they'll come across than the plants in your garden etc.  And I've realised with the recent high winds that if we were to go down the path of avoiding all toxic plants in our garden, we cannot avoid the potential of toxic leaves / debris from blowing in ours garden to be eaten by our dog. 

Our thinking now is that dealing with any toxic plants is better done through training our dog's behaviour than it is by removing all risk of her coming in contact with toxic plants at home our out and about, an impossible task in any case. The behaviour training will help both in and out of our garden.

Thanks you all for your advice and insights.



  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    Until recently I'd have said dogs are never interested in eating plants other than grass, but my parents rescue dog is an exception and will munch on all sorts.  Nothing toxic so far though, I do think they generally have good instincts. 
  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003
    edited May 2021
    I've always had a dod and cats, I've planted all sorts of 'poisonous' plants, never saw the pets eating plants.  They sometimes eat a bit of grass.......
  • philippasmith2philippasmith2 Posts: 2,937
    If you are trying to make a new garden at the same time as being a new dog owner, you will undoubtedly want to train your dog to behave when in ( and out ) of the garden.
    Toxic plants to animals is becoming a rather silly and uneccessarily worrying subject for pet owners.
    If gardeners with pets took serious note of  the " advice" often given out these days, there would either be a dearth of many plants being grown in gardens or many instances of dogs being poisoned. Taking good care of your pet is one thing - your responsibility but worrying about what plants to grow is a tads OTT IMO.
    You are already on the right track by thinking training your new dog is the way to go - supervision whilst he/she is young and you shouldn't have a problem.  Ingesting toxins to  a fatal degree is rare for any animal - they tend to have more innate sense than we humans. 
    There are numerous threads on the Forum relating to pets and toxic plants - perhaps have a look at them and see whether they will help ? 
    In the meantime, enjoy both your dog and your garden :)

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,695
    My Border Collies, several over the years, never ate my plants, only grass sometimes. I trained them not to walk on the flower beds but I don't think they would have eaten the plants anyway.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,130
    Plant what you like but also what suits your garden's location and exposure (weather, temperature ranges, winds) and its soil - alkaline or acidic or neutral; sandy, loamy, stony, clay.

    Train your dog not to play in the beds and give a firm "No" if you do see it eating plants.

    I have had cats for 50 years and dogs for the last 13.  We have all sorts of plants which are supposedly toxic to cats, dogs, children, bigger humans but have never had anyone ill or dead.  You can over-do the caution and worrying.  Stick to being practical and teaching the dog what not to touch, just as you would with anything it finds out and about on walkies.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    A word of warning on training dogs though, when they get old they can get the canine version of dementia and it all goes out the window!
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,427
    Had dogs since I was a kid, got 2 now,only eat grass, now if I could train them to eat the weeds. The go where I don't want,they get "no". My last border17 when finally out to sleep,(kidney failure) had dog dementia,used to walk out one door and in the next, round and round
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    edited May 2021
    My last border17 when finally out to sleep,(kidney failure) had dog dementia,used to walk out one door and in the next, round and round
    Aw, mine does that, same circuit around the house over and over.  Kept falling in the mini pond until I fenced it in with bamboo canes.  He's 16. 
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,645
    We had one that would get out of the car door and jump back in the boot but that was if it was raining and definitely not because he was going doolally - quite the opposite.

    You need to be with the dog in the garden, don't leave him to his own devices getting up to mischief. Most of them don't eat much except grass, IME, or food that I give them (peas and carrots are most popular). But you need to keep an eye on a youngster until you know if he's a random chewer or not.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • BijdezeeBijdezee Posts: 1,484
    I wouldnt worry about the plants, just don't leave the puppy alone in the garden until its past the mouthing/chewing stage. My dogs have only eaten grass. 
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