Pictured: Azaleas

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe, depending on the amount ingested

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inappetance
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal heart rate and rhythms
  • Hypotension
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Blindness
  • Seizures
  • Coma

The Azalea is actually a species of Rhododendron. Over 1000 species of rhododendrons/azaleas exist. The small, deciduous species are referred to as the Azalea and the large, woody shrubs as Rhododendrons. The Rhododendron is more toxic but this can vary drastically due to the hybridization of these two common plants. These plants contain grayanotoxins which disrupt sodium channels affecting the skeletal and cardiac muscle. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, and as little as ingestion of 0.2% of an animal’s body weight can result in poisoning. When ingested, clinical signs include gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, inappetance), cardiovascular (e.g., abnormal heart rate, heart arrhythmias, weakness, hypotension), and central nervous system signs (e.g., depression, tremors, transient blindness, seizures, coma, etc.). The overall prognosis is fair with treatment.

Poison type: plants

Alternate names: Ericaceae, Rhododendron, grayanotoxin