English ivy is toxic to dogs. This member of the Araliaceae family is very hardy and grows abundantly, so much so, that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lists it as a noxious and nuisance plant. This ground cover should be reconsidered for gardens with pets.
Why Dogs Eat Plants
Dogs eat greens for different reasons, according to veterinarian Holly Nash. Dogs might eat grass to help an upset stomach or because they like it. It's thought that dogs -- like their wild cousins, wolves and coyotes -- would eat the greens found inside their vegetarian prey. Puppies eat plants to learn about them, but chewing on English ivy is dangerous.
English Ivy Toxin
English ivy contains a component called Triterpenoid saponins (hederagenin). This toxin is what makes a dog sick if it eats English ivy. Triterpenoid saponins (hederagenin) can also make cats and horses sick.
English ivy leaves are more toxic than the berries. If a dog eats the leaves, it could suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, drooling and vomiting.
English Ivy Aliases
English is also called branching, California, glacier, needlepoint and sweetheart Ivy. If your dog likes greens, and you're concerned that it will eat and get sick from English ivy, avoid purchasing any of these ivies the next time you're at the nursery.