Dangerous-to-Dogs Desert Plants

dog with dangerous plant
Springtime is busting out all over in metro Phoenix-land and the industrious among us are taking advantage of great weather to plant trees, vegetable gardens and landscaping — but what about the dog?

No, you really can’t get the dog to shovel the dirt for you (of course, they can dig – boy, can they dig) but you should think about the dog when choosing what is going into the ground at your house — surprisingly, a lot of common desert-garden mainstays can be poisonous to your four-legged buddy.

Plants poisonous to pooch

    • Aloe: Causes vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, tremors, change in urine color
    • Bed of paradise: Nausea, diarrhea, lack of coordination, increased heart rate
    • Lantana: Bloody diarrhea, frequent urination, shock, vomiting
    • Oleander:Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shallow/difficult breathing, cardiac failure
    • Sago palms: Black (tarry) stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bruising, liver damage


Our friends at Sonoran Foothills Pet Clinic have a very comprehensive list of plants that can be dangerous to your dog’s health. The chart also includes photos so you can easily ID plants. So check it out before heading to the nursery!

Keep your dog out of the plants

Follow these simple strategies to help prevent your dog from being accidentally poisoned:

  • Vigilance: Keep an eye on your dog while they are outside
  • Alternatives:If your dog loves to dig, set up an alternative spot where they can dig to their heart’s content.
  • Alternatives (part 2): Be liberal with the dog chews and chewing toys. Make your garden less attractive to your little digger.
  • Exhaustion: Exercise the dog more often; a tired dog is going to be sleeping inside instead of heading out to the Great Outdoors.

It’s also a great idea to keep a list of important phone numbers in a visible, easily accessible location and at the ready on your cell phone. Dial in:

  • Your primary veterinarian
  • One or more nearby 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics
  • ASPCA Poison Control: (888) 426-4435 (possible fee)

Hiking with the dog in or around Phoenix

hiking near tortoise trail in phoenix
Went to a great presentation at the Paradise Valley REI the other night about hiking with your dog in the Arizona desert — I and several other interested dog people/hikers came to learn from the instructor, Chris, and swap stories about being out there with the dog.

All of us agreed that having your dog on the trail with you is one of the best things ever – It provides both of you with some exercise and bonding time and it is an excellent way to have some companionship without having to say too much.

Chris suggested that before you go it is a good idea to talk with your vet first to let them know your hiking goals. The vet can assess your dog’s fitness and give some any Fido-specific first-aid tips.

When hiking with the dog

He also suggested some other prep work to get you and the dog ready for a Big Outdoors Adventure:

  • Need to have a leash: Non-retractable is preferred. Rein in your dog to prevent them from stumbling onto snakes. Also, some people have gotten their legs shredded when leashes got wrapped around their legs as their dogs lurched for something. It’s good to have a leash with less “give.’’
  • Poop bags: All local trails require people to clean up after their dogs; dog poop carries several disease and viruses harmful to other dogs and people.
  • Medications: You can carry several over-the-counter drugs with you in case of emergencies – talk with your vet to make sure these are right for your dog:
    • Anti-histamines for allergic reactions or swelling. Benadryl is a favorite.
    • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting
    • Buffered aspiring for pain
  • Extra bandana and cool towel: Place them on dog’s neck, armpits and ears to cool your baby down
  • Tweezers, pliers, comb, Leatherman: Any of these can help do the trick when your dog dives into cholla.
  • Water: Do you have enough for you and the dog? What about if you were stranded or had to carry the dog out? What about if you ran across another dog in trouble?
  • Vet phone number: Do you have it as part of your contacts on your phone? And do you know where the nearest 24/7 emergency clinic is – just in case.

When getting ready for a hike, I always feel that I am prepping for the Apocalypse. But it’s simply preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. And usually, it is the best, when you are out there with your dog.

Where to hike with your dog?? We have some trails for you

Bee Careful!

The sign at Phoenix’s North Mountain Visitor Center says it all: It’s bee season and with reports of dogs being stung to death in Scottsdale, it’s a good time to review how to prevent your dog from getting stung and what to do it Fido meets up with a bee.

Right now, bee-removal services say they are getting 30 to 60 calls a day for people with swarms and hive problems. Typically, bee season in Arizona runs from mid-March through late October, but it often depends on the weather.

The bad news for people with pets is that there is really no way to prevent your dog from coming in contact with a bee, short of house arrest. By their very endearing curious natures, dogs are going to investigate small flying insects zipping around in the air. In fact, dogs are at greater risk from bee stings than people. They are likely to get stung in the mouth or on the nose, face, or feet.

The good news is that dogs’ throats don’t swell up like humans. In most cases, dogs will have mild swelling and tenderness.

If you know that your dog has been stung, try to remove the stinger as quickly as possible to stop the venom from spreading. Use your credit card or fingernail to gently scrape it out.Use Be careful because you may rupture the venom sac, potentially causing more damage. And sometimes, the stinger can’t be found.

To be safe, contact your vet who will most likely advise you to give your pet Benadryl, an over-the-counter antihistamine, which dogs usually respond well to. Your vet can tell you the correct dosage based on your dog’s weight. You can also run a washcloth under some cool tap water and and press it onto the sting to help with swelling. Don’t use an ice pack as that can cause frost bite.

It’s time to see the vet immediately if your dog is vomiting, has difficulty breathing, trembling diarrhea, pale gums, weakness or unconsciousness. If any of these symptoms occur, take her to the vet ASAP. Your vet may have to administer antihistimines, steroids or other medications to help reverse the problem.

Another good practice: Have your vet’s number programmed into your speed dial and cell phone. You never know when the bees will show up!