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Are Asparagus Ferns Poisonous to Dogs? Vet-Reviewed Toxicity & Alternatives

Codee Chessher

By Codee Chessher

asparagus fern (Asparagus plumosus) or climbing asparagus

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Yes, asparagus ferns, and especially their berries, are toxic or poisonous for dogs as well as cats. Immediately contact your vet if you suspect they’ve consumed any asparagus fern or display signs of asparagus fern poisoning.

Give your vet as much information as possible including when they ate the plant, how much they ingested and any signs they are showing. This will help your vet to decide on the best course of action which may include administering activated charcoal to prevent absorption of toxins, and supportive care with IV fluids. Never attempt to induce vomiting at home unless specifically instructed to do so by your vet, as this can make things worse. Even a small amount of asparagus fern or its berries can be toxic for large dogs and can be especially dangerous for smaller dogs.

The asparagus fern poisons our furry friends with a steroid called sapogenin, which is found in a litany of other forest plants too. Asparagus fern poisoning can cause mild to severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Repeated skin contact with the plant can also lead to allergic dermatitis (skin rash).

If you’ve ever wondered about some of the plants you pass on your daily walks with your four-legged friend, you’re in luck. Well, sort of, because it turns out a lot of them are poisonous! For more info on other common poisonous plants to steer clear from and what plants are dog-safe, join us below.

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What Other Plants Are Toxic to Dogs?

Tiger lilies
Image Credit: gomca, Pixabay

Any seasoned dog owner knows that there are many toxic plants to dogs, but it’s a big challenge to get to know all of them. At the very least, we can help you out by listing some of the most common toxic plants to dogs that you want to avoid in your own garden and maybe err away from on your daily walks.

Unsafe & Toxic Plants for Dogs:
  • Azaleas: All parts of these pretty flowers are toxic. They contain deadly cardiovascular poison that can cause altered heartbeat and even fatal cardiac arrest in canines.
  • Tulips: Including hyacinths and irises, tulips and especially their bulbs are loaded with toxins that cause dangerous GI symptoms in dogs that eat the plant.
  • Lilies: As well as being highly dangerous to cats, some lilies can also be toxic for our canine companions. Most cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested but some can cause more serious issues.
  • Aloe: Common in topicals, aloe vera plants are toxic to dogs if ingested. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.

What Plants Are Safe for Dogs?

moving with a dog
Photo Credit: VK Studio, Shutterstock

With so many plants unsafe for would-be gardening pet parents, it’s tempting to just give up on your dream to green-ify your yard. Don’t give up just yet! There are a lot of indoor and outdoor plants that aren’t toxic to dogs, just in case they get a little too curious one day. These are some safer choices for dog owners with green thumbs.

Dog-Friendly Plants:
  • Marigold: These bursts of sunny cheer double as pest control for your garden, keeping insects away with their unique scent. They may cause mild irritation to the gastrointestinal tract when ingested though.
  • Magnolias: The bush, not the tree, shows off dignified white, pink, and purple blossoms and isn’t toxic to adventurous pups.
  • Spider plants: The ultimate indoor plant, spider plants are low maintenance and don’t pose your dog any harm.
  • Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, and sage are a few herbs you can grow in your kitchen on a sunny windowsill, and your dog can sample a few sprigs with no harm done.

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Wrapping Up

Dogs don’t mind taking a bite out of nearly anything interesting in their path, but you should keep them away from asparagus ferns in the future, which are toxic. If you are concerned your dog has ingested asparagus fern or is showing any concerning signs, including a rash after skin contact with the plant, then contact your vet for advice straight away.


Featured Photo Credit: Bintoen, Shutterstock

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