Colorado Hiking with Your Dog Avoid These 6 Plants

Colorado Hiking with Your Dog Avoid These 6 Plants

Image by Janet Meyer from Pixabay

With warmer temperatures, it’s the perfect time to hit the trails with your dog!

But before you do, read this quick blog to know which plants are not dog-friendly! 

I love hitting the trails in Colorado with my K9 friends. But with all the snow, and now warmer temperatures, it’s critical to stay vigilant for native plants that could harm your dog. Even some of the most beautiful wildflowers pose a very real risk to an unsuspecting dog (or human).

So before you lace up the hiking boots, brush up on your knowledge of poisonous plants to ensure you and your dog’s safe return.

In Colorado, common poisonous plants include the:

  1. Death Camas
  2. Western Water Hemlock
  3. Larkspur
  4. Locoweed
  5. Lupine

1.  Death Camas

Image by shell_game from Flickr

Where: Sunny meadows, dry rocky slopes and areas
Effects: Ingestion can lead to muscle spasms, low heart rate, stomach pain, vomiting blood, coma and death from the flowers, stem, seeds and leaves
May be mistaken as: wild onion
Interesting fact: Part of the lily family and also known as the poison sego lily.



2. Western Water Hemlock

Where: Wet areas like marshes, riverbanks, swamps, ponds, damp pastures and meadows; flourishes after very wet winters and spring flooding and may grow as tall as 6 feet
Effects: Convulsions, fever, delirium and death from the stem and roots that contain an oily, yellow poisonous juice
May be mistaken as: Queen Anne’s Lace, wild carrot (the carrot-like odor may attract your dog) and other wild edibles
Interesting fact: Water Hemlocks are the most poisonous plants in North America.  According to, “children have even been poisoned using the stems as whistles.”

3. Larkspur

Image by Lolame from Pixabay

Where: Sunny meadows and dry rocky slopes
Effects: Ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhea from any part of the plant – especially young plants
Interesting fact: Known as a cattle-killer because cows love to eat it

4. Locoweed

Where: Semi-arid foothills and plains
Effects: Ingestion can lead to neurological effects of depression, erratic behavior, extreme nervousness, emaciation and death
Interesting fact: A known hallucinogenic in dogs; also called crazyweed; part of the legume family

5. Lupine

Image by Jarkko Mänty from Pixabay

Where: Sunny mountain meadows
Effects: Ingestion of the poisonous seeds and pods can lead to abdominal distress and death in children
Interesting fact: Part of the legume family

Danger from Native Grasses

In addition to the poisonous plants listed above, there’s another common danger, namely foxtails. During the months of July, August, September and October the wild grasses that produce foxtails are soft and seemingly harmless. But these weeds (including spear grass) should always be avoided by your dog.

Why? The pointed seeds can easily latch onto your dog’s ears, skin, fur, paws and toes, noses, mouths and tender genital areas. Once attached, the barbed seeds begin to burrow into the body, chest cavity, lungs or bloodstream causing internal – and possibly irreversible – damage.

Typically, foxtail grasses are found in:

  • Unkempt, open space areas
  • Overgrown lawns
  • Along trails
  • Alongside Plum Creek in Douglas County Colorado

3 Steps to Protect Your Dog from Foxtails

One of the biggest issues with foxtails is that they are rarely noticed before they enter the dog’s body and cause physical damage. Proactively protect your canine by:

      1. Avoiding unkempt, weedy areas.
      2. Checking the body areas mentioned above after being near any areas overrun by foxtail plants, grasses or weeds (look for ticks and other pests too).
      3. Brushing your dog after all outings to remove any hitchhiking seeds especially long-haired dogs.


Want to Be Prepared in the Event of a Pet Emergency?

Sign up to take our next Pet First Aid & CPR Class!  Check out our upcoming classes. We teach all about poisons, bites, stings, proper bandaging and more!


 Distinctive Pet Care also offers the following pet care services in the Littleton and Morrison areas:

Pet Grooming
Daily Pet Visits
Doggy Daycare
Pet Hospice Care
Pet & House Sitting
Puppy Playtime & Potty Breaks

 Just call (303)904-0484 or visit our website for more information.

Additional Reading:

      1. 6 Poisonous Plants to Avoid in Colorado
      2. Foxtails in Colorado Dogs: How to Protect Your Pup
      3. What are the Dangers of Water Hemlock to Dogs?
      4. What are the Dangers of Foxtails to Dogs?
      5. Guide to Dog Poisonous Plants