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Poisonous Foods and Plants Found in Hawaii

DISCLAIMER: This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care nor should it be used as a diagnostic tool.  There is no substitute for direct, hands-on examination of your pet.  If you believe your dog has been poisoned, please call your veterinarian immediately even if your pet has already vomited.  Many toxins need to be flushed out of their system further, and the pet may require further care to prevent further possible complications such as seizures.  Also, keep the Poison Control number near your home phone or as a contact on your cell phone.  The ASPCA’s Poison Control Center phone number is 888-426-4435 (A $65 consultation fee may be applied to your credit card.)  They also now has a free mobile app for quick access to all their information and hotline 24 hours per day.  

Common Poisonous Plants Found in Hawaii

Know which plants are kapu (off limits) to your dog.

People are often surprised to learn that there are actually hundreds of plants potentially poisonous to dogs many of which could be in your home or yard, beach or forest.

ProFlowers recently created an illustrated guide to 199 of the most common poisonous household plants and flowers. The guide identifies each plant by toxicity level, shows which parts to avoid (like seeds and leaves), and indicates which plants should be kept away from pets (dogs and/or cats).  Mahalo to ProFlowers for contacting and sharing this guide with us!

The following is a list of some plants, trees, and flowers in Hawai’i that may harm dogs (Unless noted, all parts of the plants are harmful):

  • Allamanda vine
  • Angel’s trumpet
  • Anthurium
  • Apple seeds, in large amounts
  • Apricot seeds
  • Avocado leaves
  • Azalea (rhododendron species) – This popular plant can harm a dog’s cardiovascular system and trigger vomiting or gastrointestinal upset.
  • Bee-still tree
  • Black-eyed susan (Abrus precatorius), also called rosary pea and bead vine, seeds
  • Bird of paradise (Strelizia regirae), fruits and seeds
  • Caladium
  • Candlenut tree (kukui), especially sap
  • Cassava (tapioca), leaves and roots
  • Castor bean (Ricinus communis) also called pa’aila and kamakou, seeds (Lava Dogs: My Lab, Kimo, ate a whole bunch of Castor bean seeds as a puppy while at Puako Beach, causing him to vomit once. He was fine after that.)
  • Cestrum (‘ala’aumoe), berries
  • Chinaberry (‘inia), all parts, but especially fruit
  • Crown flower, pua kalaunu
  • Crown of thorns
  • Cup of gold and silver cup
  • Daffodil (narcissus), bulbs- Toxic ingredients in the bulbs cause convulsions, tremors, lethargy, weakness, and upset stomachs.
  • Dumbcane (dieffenbachia)
  • Elephant ear, also known as ‘ape
  • Foxglove, leaves, seeds, juice and flowers
  • Gloriosa lily, especially roots
  • Hawaiian poppy (pua kala)
  • Hens-and-chicks (lantana)
  • Hydrangea, especially leaves and buds
  • Ivy (many varieties), leaves and berries
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • Jimson weed (Datura stramonium) or thorn apple and kikania haole
  • Kava, or ‘awa in Hawai’i
  • Lilies such as those popular at Easter- This plant can cause heart failure, coordination problems, and vomiting.
  • Mushrooms
  • Nightshade, also called deadly nightshade and popolo, including apple of Sodom, Jerusalem cherry and cockroach berry
  • Oleander (all varieties including be-still tree), all parts – Extremely toxic, this popular outdoor plant contains cardiac glycosides that harm the heart, decrease body temperature, cause abnormal pulse rate, and can cause death. Beware: Even people have died from eating hot dogs roasted on an oleander twig.
  • Pencil plant, sap
  • Periwinkle (vinca)
  • Plumeria (frangipani), also called pua melia
  • Philodendron (all varieties), small to monstera
  • Poinsettia, leaves and flowers- Irritating to the mouth and stomach and can cause vomiting.
  • Pokeberry and coral berry
  • Pothos (Scindapsus aureus)
  • Red sage (Lantana camara), especially leaves and unripe berries
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb, leaves- Although the stalks are used to make pies, the leaves pack the potential to cause kidney damage.
  • Slipper flower, especially sap
  • Star of Bethlehem or pua hoku
  • Ti (Cordyline terminalis, also known as the Hawaiian Ti, Ti Tree, Good Luck Tree, Green Ti, Red Ti and occasionally giant dracecaena)
  • Taro, when raw
  • Tulip, bulbs
  • Umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius)
  • Wisteria, seeds, pods
  • Yew, needles, bark and seeds-  Extremely toxic to dogs, this group of ornamental plants can cause seizures or cardiac failure. The plant and red berries are toxic.

Poisonous Foods and Beverages

Know which foods are kapu for your dog.

While it might be tempting to share your favorite grindz with your dog, check this list before giving a bite to your furry friend

  • Alcohol –  Extremely toxic, can cause vomiting and diarrhea, problems with coordination, central nervous system, difficulty breathing, tremors, coma and even death.
  • Almonds – Not easily digested by dogs. Can cause gastrointestinal irritation and distress.
  • Avocado -First, let me start with the GOOD news: Here in Hawaii, we have over 200 varieties of avocados that are safe to feed to our dogs, and many of us feed avocados (no skin or pit!) to our dogs, especially for underweight or itchy dogs with allergies (I have one dog that I have fed 3 avocados/day to, to get him to gain weight).  I have checked with several Hawaii vets, and they are all in agreement that it is safe to feed a peeled/pitted avo to our Hawaii dogs (Dogs cannot digest the skin, so they will throw it up (or try to throw it up), so it’s best to peel it), but only start with a little bit at first, to see if they have any reaction.  It works wonders! We have tons of avocado trees here, and many of our friends’ dogs here eat avocados in mass quantities and end up gaining some weight and have wonderful shiny fur coats, and they do not get sick. HOWEVER, here’s the BAD news: CERTAIN VARIETIES of Avocado contain a toxic principle known as Persin (Not all avocado varieties contain Persin!!). High concentrations of Persin are found in the leaves, bark, seeds, skin, and pits of the avocado. What varieties are toxic? Guatemalen and Mexican varieties of the avocado are toxic to animals. The Guatemalan variety, a common one found mostly in mainland stores, appears to be the MOST problematic, and the Mexican variety is the least toxic. These two strains of avocado can have different degrees of toxic potential. In dogs and cats: mild (typically vomiting and diarrhea). In other species (e.g., birds, ruminants, etc.), moderate to severe. It does cause significant weight gain in dogs, which can cause problems as they age. Pet birds should never be fed avocado, as canaries, parakeets, cockatiels and large parrots are extremely susceptible to persin toxicity. Signs of persin poisoning in birds includes the inability to perch, respiratory distress, fluid accumulation around the bird’s heart and lungs, liver and kidney failure, and acute death. My suggestion is to talk to your vet before feeding avos to your canine. More information is right here:  If you suspect your pet has avocado poisoning, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for treatment advice).
  • Chocolate – Chocolate (cocoa) is dangerous for dogs because it contains high amounts of methylxanthines, specifically one called theobromine which is toxic to dogs.
  • Coffee- Like chocolate, coffee contains methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, thirst, excessive urination, seizures and even death.
  • Garlic, fresh – Can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
  • Macadamia nuts (Note: Shells are popular as yard mulch) – Can cause weakness, vomiting and tremors, but fortunately are rarely fatal if eaten in small amounts.
  • Onions – Can cause gastrointestinal irritation
  • Raisins, grapes – Can cause kidney failure in some dogs.
  • Tea – Like chocolate and coffee, caffeinated tea contains methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, thirst, excessive urination, seizures and even death
  • Tomato leaves, stems – Surprisingly, the greenery of this common plant, not the tomato itself, contains solanine, a toxic ingredient that can prompt gastric upset, depression, weakness, and a decrease in heart rate.

For more information and a complete list of dog poisons, visit the animal poison control website at ASPCA.

Protect Your Pooch, Read Pet Food Labels

Purchasing food for your beloved pooch is one of the major expenses you have within your household budget. But, have you ever wondered what is actually inside the pet food that you toss in your grocery cart? From wet to dry food, there are many different types of grub that your animals eat. They might not know what they are consuming, but it is your responsibility to read labels and know exactly what is put inside the food products that you serve.

With increasingly busy schedules, there is hardly enough time to run errands or take your time shopping for pet food. Yet, the sad news is that there might be ingredients in store-bought pet food that are actually harmful to Fido. From toxic food dyes to preservatives, you might be unknowingly feeding your pets poison which can cause negative side effects, symptoms, and diseases.

For more information on harmful pet food ingredients, take a look at this infographic so you know what to look out for the next time you go grocery shopping.



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