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Keep Your Dog Away From These Virginia Beach Plants

Last Updated on September 3, 2022 by Dogs Vets


Keep Your Dog Away From These Virginia Beach Plants


Many people move to Virginia Beach precisely because of its abundance of wildlife. Due to its coastal location on the Atlantic Ocean, the conditions in Virginia Beach are excellent year-round to produce a diverse selection of naturally occurring plants.

Home gardeners also take advantage of the temperate climate to grow a variety of indoor and outdoor plants for their beauty, function, or edible elements.

Learn what common toxic plants to look out for in Virginia Beach as well as what to do if your dog comes into contact with one.


Should you worry about toxic plants?

In any discussion about potentially toxic plants, it’s important to emphasize that anything (including water!) can be toxic if your dog consumes or eats enough of it.

Similarly, anything can cause an upset stomach, especially if it’s something they’re not used to eating or if your dog overindulged.

A dog can display symptoms such as an upset stomach any time they eat something unusual, even if it is non-toxic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the dog has been poisoned.

Additionally, the dose ingested matters where poisons are concerned. Bigger, healthier dogs can tolerate more of a potentially poisonous plant than smaller dogs with pre-existing health issues. As a result, all exposures to potentially poisonous plants are not created equally.

To err on the side of caution, consider rehoming any of these potentially toxic plants if you keep them in your living space.

At a minimum, these should be placed out of reach of your pet as a proactive measure to protect your dog.


Toxic plants in your neighborhood

When walking your dog, keep in mind that you may come across toxic plants, whether you are in the wild or in a neighbor’s yard or garden. Review the places you normally visit with your dog so you can determine exactly which plants you may need to look out for.

Many dog owners are surprised to learn that they have toxic plants in their own homes or yard.

Regardless of the species of toxic plants you may find in your environment, it’s important to understand the concept of toxicity is complicated.

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The danger presented by any plant varies depending on many factors, so it’s in every pet parent’s best interest to educate themselves on the risks of their local flora.

Here are some of the potentially toxic plants you may come across in Virginia Beach, including your home, yard, or neighborhood:

Castor Beans

The seeds from the castor bean plant, also called a mole bean plant, contain a substance called ricin which is extremely toxic.

Chewing these seeds releases the ricin which can lead to burning of the mouth and throat, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and death.

Coming across ornamental plants or pruned foliage clippings is typically how dogs access the toxic seeds from this plant.

Blue-Green Algae

Although it is not technically a plant, the cyanobacteria present in blooms of blue-green algae are toxic and can be deadly to dogs in sufficient amounts.

Dogs typically come into contact with blue-green algae when swimming in ponds or lakes.

Blue-green algae blooms most commonly occur in shallow, warm, freshwater, but blooms can occur in both fresh and marine water, regardless of if it is moving or still.


Milkweed is moderately to severely toxic to dogs, depending on the type and amount they consume. All parts of the plant have the potential to contribute to toxicity.

A dog who eats a large enough amount of milkweed may develop digestive symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, but this is rarely life threatening.

The toxic component of milkweed plants can also affect the heart and nervous system. If a dog manages to consume a large amount of milkweed, it’s possible for severe life-threatening heart arrhythmias and seizures to result.

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Poisonous mushrooms

While they are not technically plants (they are fungi), some mushrooms are not only edible, they’re also delicious! North America is home to thousands of species of mushrooms, but fewer than a hundred of them are poisonous.

Even though humans and dogs alike may enjoy edible varieties such as cremini, portabella, or shiitake, it can be difficult to correctly identify a mushroom that you come across outside of the produce aisle. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

When you come across a mushroom while out walking your dog you should assume it’s dangerous and not let your dog eat it. Even if it’s not a toxic variety, eating too much of anything unusual can produce GI symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, so it’s best to steer clear.

Lily of the valley

Ingestion of a significant amount of this plant can cause arrhythmia, heart failure, and even coma in your dog. This beautiful but toxic plant tends to grow in the shade and is common in gardens in the Virginia Beach area.


You may think cannabis is a relatively safe plant, but it has the potential to be dangerous. Dogs tend to find the smell of cannabis appealing and will readily consume any amount they manage to find, so cannabis intoxication is common.

Fortunately, the degree of THC intoxication that results from consuming cannabis plant material is not usually expected to be life-threatening, but can have some pretty serious effects on your dog that take a day or two to wear off.

Tulips and other flowering bulbs

Although the leaves of the tulip plant can make your pup sick, it is the tulip bulbs that contain more of the compounds that cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. This can also occur with other types of flowering bulbs.

In addition to having the potential to be poisonous, ingestion of flower bulbs can cause intestinal blockage, which is in itself a serious problem.

Sago palm

You may find this miniature palm tree plant indoors or outdoors. Ingestion of sago palm plant material can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, liver failure, and even death in dogs.

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It doesn’t take much sago palm to poison a dog, so avoid letting your dog have access to any amount of this plant.


Azaleas are also known as rhododendrons. In most dogs, small amounts of azalea will merely cause an upset stomach, but larger amounts can cause severe reactions, such as weakness and heart arrhythmias.


This common garden plant has the potential to make dogs ill if they ingest large quantities. Although reactions typically aren’t fatal and small amounts don’t usually cause harm, it is good to keep an eye on your dog around this common plant.


What to do if your dog eats a poisonous plant

If your dog has ingested a poisonous plant, contact poison control or an online vet immediately. The potential risk your dog faces is primarily a result of how much of the plant he consumed, so prevention is key.

However, once your dog has already ingested a poisonous substance, taking prompt action is the most important step you can take to improve your dog’s chances of a full recovery.

If you witness your dog ingesting a plant and you aren’t sure if it’s toxic or not, save the remaining pieces of the plant for identification.

If your dog suddenly starts vomiting and you see plant material in what he throws up, save a sample of that for identification to help direct treatment.

If your dog is experiencing unusual symptoms, contact an online vet in Virginia Beach as soon as possible.

Vetster is available 24/7 for questions you may have regarding your dog’s health. You can book an appointment on your schedule, whenever you need one.



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