What Autumn Plants Are Toxic To Pets?

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\\\ Autumn

\\\ Updated Winter 2022


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Trees and plants can start shedding their toxic goods as early as July in some parts of the UK

Autumn Trees And Plants Can Cause Problems To Our Pets

Autumn gardens, pathways, local parks and countryside provide dog walkers with problems and that’s the falling nuts, berries, and leaves from our trees and bushes crashing onto the ground and being eaten sniffed, foraged and eaten by our pets. 

Outdoor cats being feral will wander off trying all the new, free, vegetation that’s on offer, just as pet rabbits will, when let out for exercising in gardens.

When does Autumn start?

The autumnal equinox, 22 September, heralds in the Northern Hemisphere’s change of climate, however, the wonderful colourful trees and plants start shedding their goods as early as July in some parts of the UK.

Some parts of the UK will be experiencing Oak trees dropping their very hard nuts and Horse Chestnut trees, young green conkers in their prickly shells falling on the roadsides, verges, gardens and parks and hazelnuts from the Sweet Chestnut tree being scrunched underfoot as we walk our local paths.

What plants are dangerous to our pets?

You can almost guarantee if leaves, nuts and berries are dangerous to dogs, they will be to cats and most certainly pet rabbits.

Rabbits being let out in the garden, for some exercise, need the lawn cleared of any fallen leaves, nuts and berries, or provide a fenced off area, such as pen, that is debris-free of these potential toxic foods.

Our colourful images and information below provides the most usual problematic trees and shrubs encountered by pets in the UK during autumn months.

Autumn plants that pet owners should avoid

Oak Trees and Acorns. Acorns are the nuts formed from the oak tree. Eaten by squirrels, porcupines, bears and deer. They contain tannins which can cause stomach upsets and diarrhoea. Acorns are dangerous to dogs and cats, particularly as they can cause blockages being stuck in the intestines if eaten. Acorns can start falling during the summer when green and when ripened, as featured, during autumn months.

Oak tree with acorns
Yew tree

Yew Tree. This really is a tree to be avoided. Every part of the yew tree is poisonous, even a few leaves can be dangerous to pets. Hundreds of year-old yew trees are often found in churchyards up and down the countryside. The foliage can often be used as winter Christmas interior design dressing in the home which is dangerous to use where pets are homed.

Horse Chestnut Tree and Conkers. Conkers are the nut formed by the Horse Chestnut tree. Loved by kids for conker collecting and playing games with them. The bark, leaves and conkers are all poisonous to pets. Conkers, fortunately, are not pleasant to eat and pets can choke on them. However, as the taste is not pleasant, the case numbers are small of pets suffering from severe choking. Vets remove the conkers by having to make your pet sick.

Horse Chestnut tree and conkers

Ivy. Ivy is very prolific during the autumn trailing everywhere over fences, paths, hedging, and attached to trees and homes and just starting to die back. This plant should be avoided, in and outside the home. Many popular ivy plants, including English ivy and Devil’s ivy, which can be toxic to pets.

Apple Trees. All parts of the apple, except the flesh, contain cyanide. Fallen apples are a very dangerous treat for dogs in particularly. Dogs and cats may develop signs of stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhoea if they have eaten parts of apples. Fermenting fruit left rotting on the ground can also pose an alcoholic toxicity problem for your pets. It’s best to pick up those rotting apples left on your garden lawn to avoid any pet problems.

Apples on tree
Dog in pile of fallen leaves

Fallen leaves. Leaves on the ground can naturally rot developing bacteria and mould and help gardeners with mulch. If a dog eats piles of leaves it can cause gastrointestinal problems. They do need to be picked up to avoid problems.

Mushrooms and Toadstools. Wild mushrooms and different types of toadstools and fungi are poisonous to dogs and more so to cats. Best to avoid all wild mushrooms, toadstools and fungi.

Wild fungi

Hydrangeas. These are beautiful plants making a wonderful array of colour in gardens during spring, summer and autumn and used as often as hedging, borders and even fencing shrubs growing to large proportions. Parts of the plant contain cyanide and dogs and cats should avoid.


Autumn Crocus Clematis and Chrysanthemums.

These plants start appearing in autumn months. The stems and leaves of these plants are toxic to dogs and cats and cause a number of familiar signs of poisoning including diarrhoea and more if eaten in quantity.

Raking fallen leaves

Raking the garden. Clearing the fallen leaves is a good idea however, leaving sharp instruments out on the lawn and sometimes covered by the leaves is a nasty accident waiting to happen where not just animals can spike themselves, but humans too. It can be very painful if you stand on the spikes accidentally!

Sweet Chestnuts. These are not to be mixed up with Horse Chestnuts. Sweet chestnuts grow in woods forests and orchards and their nuts are often offered by street sellers in autumn in UK city centres served up roasted on open fires. The shell called a ‘burr’ is considerably less spikey, softer and the tree leaves are longer, flatter and more oval. These won’t poison dogs but not really the sort of treat to give them either.

Avoid dogs foraging as it will help to keep unexpected and particular toxicity accidents at bay.

Sweet Chestnut tree with sweet chestnut fruits slightly open ready for picking
Firework display

Important! Bonfire season is with us during autumn months in the UK with the celebration that includes fireworks and bonfires.

If cleaning up your garden at any time and having a bonfire, ensure the area is free from small animals such as hedgehogs or even your pet tortoise that has sneaked into the wood debris pile ready for burning.

Unsure about pet-friendly plants trees and shrubs?

Not sure whether plants are dangerous to your dog, cat or pet rabbit? Download a free app from the app stores and point towards the offending item and they will instantly recognise the picture for you. Really handy to have on your mobile when dog walking.

Try some of the following FREE Apps – check out further from the Google Play Store and Apple download store. There’s various customer reviews left to read about the apps, where all are rated.

  • FlowerChecker available Mobile Os; iOS, Android
  • Smart Plant Home available Mobile OS, iOS, Android
  • PlantNet Plant Identification available Mobile Os; iOS, Android
  • PictureThis available Mobile Os; iOS, Android
  • PlantSnap available Mobile Os; iOS, Android
  • Plantix available Mobile Os; Android

Dog and Cat Toxicity

Vets see in their surgeries during Autumn, a surge in cases where dogs and cats have blockages caused by not being able to digest hard nuts such as acorns.

Even mild discomfort can cause great distress to your pet. We highly recommend the Cats Protection list of flowers and plants they consider to be toxic (they have 2, one for indoors and one for outdoors), and The Dogs Trust who have an 8 page download of potential dangers.

If your pet is insured then it’s likely to be one of the many insurance plans that now offer free 24/7 veterinary advice by mobile or visually. However, if you’re not insured then accessing one of the several online vet services can be a lifesaver where toxicity is suspected. Accessing 24/7 online vets such as joii pet care can be a great alternative finding out about potential toxic problems with your dog, cat or rabbit when they suddenly become unwell, what emergency actions should be taken.

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