How to Identify and Avoid Toxic Plants this Autumn - The Trupanion Blog
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How to Identify and Avoid Toxic Plants this Autumn

golden retriever surrounded by fall plants.

Feel the chill in the air? It’s time to get out and enjoy some outdoor time with your pet. The change in season brings about temperate weather and fun adventures but also brings about new and dangerous fall plants that are not in season year-round. Whether you are planning a fall garden or just out-and-about exploring, here are some fall plants your pet should avoid:

Plants Pets Should Avoid this Leaf Season

Toxic fall plants

While it is easy to get carried away enjoying nature’s beauty outside, don’t get too distracted. It doesn’t take much time for a curious pup to get into something toxic. Likewise, it’s hard to miss a harmful seed, nut, or plant that is growing in our yard if we aren’t aware. “Potential late summer/fall dangers that immediately come to mind include ingestion of fallen nuts, fruit, and mushrooms,” states on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Nold.

Dr. Nold recommends keeping your pets away from these potentially dangerous plants and seeds:

Black walnuts:

If black walnuts are moldy when ingested they can cause seizures in dogs.


Acorns aren’t toxic per se, but if enough are ingested they could cause a gastrointestinal obstruction which can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Macadamia nuts:

Macadamia nuts can cause depression, weakness, and vomiting in dogs.


The stems, leaves, and seeds of many fruit trees such as apples, plums, peaches, and apricots contain cyanide that can cause bright red gums, dilated pupils and difficulty breathing.


Not all mushrooms are toxic, but it can be difficult to determine if a mushroom is safe to ingest. Likewise, signs of toxic mushroom ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, trouble walking, and seizures. Also, death can occur within only a couple days after ingestion of a toxic mushroom.

husky playing in fall leaves.

Identifying unknown plants

You don’t have to be a plant expert. “Identifying plants is easier than it used to be with the creation of plant identification apps for your smartphone,” says Dr. Nold. “However, if you are not able to identify a plant that your pet has ingested consider taking photos of the plant (including leaves, flower/fruit) or even bring some samples with you in a bag to show your veterinarian,” Dr. Nold added.

Additionally, there are several plant identification apps such as iplant, PictureThis, LeafSnap, and PlantSnap. These apps range in price and are available on iOS and Android.

Signs and symptoms of plant toxicity

Being able to detect if your pet has ingested something can be complicated. According to Dr. Nold, “The signs of plant toxicity are largely variable on what plant and how much was ingested. Often signs are seen a short time (minutes) after ingestion, but signs may be delayed by hours to days.”

Ingestion of a toxic plant

The ingestion of a toxic plant can be an alarming thought for any pet parent. “If you see your pet ingest a suspected toxic plant call, for a small fee, one of the animal poison control services available,” recommends Dr. Nold. These services are usually available 24/7 and can help you determine if your pet should be seen right away or if you can monitor at home.

Safety first

Safety is our number one concern as a pet parent. While many pet owners may want to immediately induce vomiting after ingestion, there are some instances where this is not safe or no longer helpful to do. For example, don’t induce if your pet is already showing signs of toxicity.

Start with your own backyard

Preparation is key when planning for season changes in regards to the safety of your pet. “The best way to prevent toxic plant ingestion is to not have any on your property or in your house,” notes Dr. Nold.

Of course, there is still always the risk that something could fall or be thrown/dropped in your yard. It doesn’t take long for your pet to ingest something they come across. This is why toxin ingestion is almost always one of the ‘rule outs’ for a pet that becomes ill when unsupervised.

If you are traveling with your pup this fall, it is important to keep a keen eye on them while out and about. Likewise, in a new environment, you never know what your pet could potentially get into. Above all – if you ever have any concerns regarding your pet’s health or safety, reach out to your veterinarian.


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