Hidden Garden Dangers For Cats And Dogs

Those of you who have pets in your life will know just how precious they are and how keeping them safe is a top priority. But how many of you know just how dangerous your own garden can be for your furry friend? I must admit that I was shocked at some of the dangers so I wanted to help raise awareness of the potential risks.

Read on to find out more...

  • 78% of British gardens contain plants that are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • One in three pet owners (31%) admit they have no idea if the plants and flowers in their gardens are toxic to pets.
  • Charlie Dimmock supports MORE TH>N Pet Safe campaign with launch of the world’s most dangerous garden to cats and dogs.

Millions of British gardens are potential death traps to cats and dogs. That’s according to new findings from MORE TH>N, which reveals that over three quarters (78%) of the nation’s gardens contain plants that are toxic to our furry friends[1].

With four in every five household gardens containing toxic plants, it’s no surprise that almost 10% of cats and dogs have ingested poisonous plants or flowers. Of those, 43% subsequently needed urgent veterinary care, while 15% sadly passed away[2].


Furthermore, according to the research, the most dangerous gardens are to be found in London and the South East (83%), followed by Wales (80%), the South West (79%), East Anglia (78%) and the West Midlands (77%).

Despite the clear and present dangers, there is a widespread ignorance of the perils gardens pose to animals, with one in every three pet owners (31%) admitting they have no idea if the plants and flowers in their gardens are toxic. The same number were unaware that plants could be poisonous to pets, while 71% of all pet owners cannot identify any of the symptoms of poisoning in their cat or dog.

General symptoms of poisoning:

Oral or skin irritation
Upset stomach / Vomiting / Diarrhoea
Rapid breathing
Heart failure
Excitability or lethargy
Tremors / Seizures / Fitting
Increased Thirst
Dilated Pupils
Dizziness / Loss of Balance

The findings come as MORE TH>N launches a new Pet Safe campaign to raise awareness of the issue of cats and dogs being poisoned by common household plants and flowers – particularly timely given that pets are likely to spend more time outdoors over the next few months due to improving weather.

To kick start the campaign, MORE TH>N has commission RHS Gold medal winner, Ian Drummond to create the world’s most dangerous garden to cats and dogs.   Launched at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in London at the beginning of June, the garden will be taken to different locations throughout the capital by the charity Core Landscapes.

Pet Safe Campaign

Far from being rare and exotic botanical specimens, all of the plants and flowers can be found in any home garden, public park or horticultural centre in Britain. A few of the plants on show include: Begonia, Buxus Pyramiden, Chrysanthemum, Clematis, Cordyline, Daisy, Dahlia, Elderberry, Foxglove, Grape plant, Hydrangea, Hedera Ivy, Lilies (variety), Cherry Laurel, Marigold, Nerium Oleander, Paeonia mix, Papaver Poppy, Tomato plant and Wisteria.

According to vet and consultant on the garden, Robert White-Adams, “As a nation of animal lovers we’ll do anything to not put our pets at harm. What this campaign reveals is the hidden dangers many of us wouldn’t even be aware of. Each plant has been chosen to show just how many common varieties can make our pets ill, or worse still, die if not treated immediately by a vet.”


In addition to raising general awareness of this issue, MORE TH>N is directly campaigning for plant producers, manufacturers of garden products and retailers to provide clearer labelling to help pet owners easily identify if items are safe or harmful to cats and dogs – something that 86% of cat and dog owners would like to see. For more information on the campaign petition please visit www.morethan.com/pet-insurance/news/most-poisonous-garden.

John Ellenger, Head of Pet Insurance at MORE TH>N, commented: “The MORE TH>N Pet Safe Campaign allows us to raise awareness of the dangers of plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs in an imaginative and memorable way. However, our new campaign is also about taking direct and immediate action – by both urging suppliers and retailers of garden plants and flowers to provide clear ‘pet safe’ labelling, while also better educating pet owners on the issue.

“Through this campaign we’ll be arming pet owners with the practical advice and information they need to identify safe and dangerous plants, to recognise the symptoms of poisoning – and what to do in that eventuality – and above all to reduce the likelihood of their beloved pets becoming ill in the first place.”

Pet Safe Campaign

Pet owners can also win free pet friendly flower seeds via MORE TH>N’s social channels; www.facebook.com/morethan and www.twitter.com/morethan.

It’s not just plants and flowers you need to consider when planning a safe garden for your cat or dog, the following can also prove hazardous:
  • ACORNS AND CONKERS: Toxic if eaten.
  • ALGAE: Toxic freshwater algae (usually blue-green in colour, but sometimes colourless) has been known to poison animals.
  • BEE AND WASP STINGS: These can be especially problematic if they sting inside the mouth.
  • COCOA MULCH: Made of cocoa bean shell – a by-product of the chocolate industry – and like chocolate can be harmful if eaten by dogs.
  • FERTILISER, INSECTICIDES AND PESTICIDES: If consumed, fertiliser can give your cat or dog a stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Read instructions carefully and make sure you allow an appropriate time from use before allowing your animal in the garden.
  • GARDEN TOOLS: Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet’s body.

Contact your vet immediately if you think your pet has eaten any toxic plants, flowers, or in fact any toxic items or substances. Take along samples of the plant to the vet - or preferably any identification label, tag or pot information you may still have for the plant that has been eaten.

About MORE TH>N:

MORE TH>N is the direct financial services arm of RSA. Established in 2001, the company offers car, home, pet, business and travel insurance.

About Core Landscapes:

Core Landscapes is a community based horticultural project … that can move!

It works to transform otherwise unused temporary ‘meanwhile’ sites into vibrant, active, spaces for local community wellbeing. Areas include our well-stocked plant nursery, opportunities for local vegetable growing, education and training, up-cycling and events. All its growing is container based cleverly designed to withstand moves. Even our huge poly tunnel is designed within a movable framework. The project is anchored around this capacity to propagate plants creating a lovely community plant nursery sourcing other horticultural community initiatives.

  1. Research conducted with OnePoll on behalf of MORE TH>N Insurance with 2,000 British homeowners that also have a garden. 78% of those polled had one or more of the plant varieties at The MORE TH>N Poisonous Pawtanical Garden in their own gardens.
  2. Research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of MORE TH>N Insurance with 2,000 cat and dog owners.
For your print out and keep list of toxic plants click here.

I hope this information is useful to my readers, it has certainly opened my eyes and I'll be changing a few things to keep our Flint safe!

Now I'd like to know what you think. Were you aware of all these risks?

In return for sharing this information I will be receiving some pet-safe seeds to help keep Flint safe in our garden.


  1. Some of them Kate but the list is huge isn't it!

    Taz munches on grass when his stomach is upset but I wonder what else he might be ingesting ...

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. It is a huge list isn't it!

      Like you I knew of some but not all of them, makes me want to wrap Flint up in cotton wool - they're just another baby to worry about aren't they :D

      Thanks for commenting x

  2. Replies
    1. My pleasure, thank you for stopping by!

  3. I am one of those pet parents who doesn’t want to take second chances. A big no-no to any plants in the garden because it is better to be safe than sorry, and by sorry means preventable visits to the veterinarian. If you want to learn more about poisonous plants for dogs, reading this article is a must: http://dogsaholic.com/care/poisonous-plants-for-dogs.html


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