April Showers May Bring Spring Bulbs. What Does that Mean for Your Pet?

April 17, 2018

a dog outside in spring

Did you know that the types of toxins that pets frequently ingest can change depending on the time of the year? Calls come in year-round about pets ingesting things like chocolate or medications, but the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) sees a spike in certain toxins during specific seasons. That’s because pets become exposed to (and curious about) what is around them. 

As we move into spring, APCC reports that they have been getting an increase in calls from pet parents reporting that their pets have either ingested or dug up spring bulbs from their gardens.  

As you may already know, some plants and flowers are completely harmless for your pets. But, there are some plants that could pose a serious threat to your pet’s health if ingested. So it’s important to know which popular springtime bulbs you should be wary of when it comes to your furry friends. 

Tulips, Hyacinth and Irises

tulips, hyacinths, and irises

From left to right: Tulips, Hyacinths and Irises

TulipsHyacinths and Irises are all considered toxic to both dogs and cats, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and drooling if ingested.  

All parts of the plants contain toxins and can cause issues for your pets, but the toxins are most concentrated in the bulbs of the plant—making the bulb the most dangerous part. Depending on how much your pet ingests, and which parts of the plant are ingested, significant vomiting or diarrhea may occur which can lead to more serious concerns such as dehydration, lethargy and abdominal pain.  



The first thing to know about the Crocus plant is there are two different types: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus sp.) and one that blooms in the fall (Colchicum autumnale). Crocus sp. may cause gastrointestinal upset when any part of the plant is ingested. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea and drooling.  

On the other hand, Colchicum autumnale can be much more serious and may cause severe vomiting, diarrhea (possibly with blood), liver and kidney damage, and possibly bone marrow damage, which could then lead to a decrease in white and red blood cells, as well as platelets.  



Daffodils, like the other spring bulbs, can also cause gastrointestinal upset leading to vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. Similar to the Tulip, Hyacinth and Iris, Daffodil bulbs also contain the highest concentration of toxins.  

Unlike the other bulbs, however, daffodils may cause depression, hypotension or even seizures when ingested in large amounts.  

While you’re on alert for bulb poisoning, don’t forget about other common garden dangers. While fertilizer is wonderful for your plants, it can be extremely appealing (and potentially dangerous) to curious dogs. When ingested, fertilizers can cause vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, weakness or stiffness in your pets’ hind legs.  

Best practice when gardening is to make sure to keep your pet out of the area when you are using fertilizers. If you feel your garden is incomplete without one of the above spring bulbs, be sure to keep your flowers fenced off and keep any curious paws away from the garden. 

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435 immediately.