10 Top Dog-Friendly Shrubs (Non-Poisonous and Safe for Dogs)

10 Top Dog-Friendly Shrubs (Non-Poisonous and Safe for Dogs)

There are many things to think about when you are planning on planting shrubs in your garden. You need to consider such things as planting space, sun exposure, and pH of the soil. If you have a dog, you will need to think of dog-friendly shrubs.

If you have dogs, you should not add toxic shrubs to your garden. You should also not add fragile shrubs that will not withstand your dog’s many antics.

Your garden can be a haven and a stimulating area for your dog. There are, however, some shrubs that are hazardous to your dog. You want to make sure to live in harmony with your dog. It is, therefore, essential that you plant only dog-friendly shrubs in your garden.

In this article we discuss the following 10 Top Dog-Friendly Shrubs (Non-Poisonous and Safe for Dogs):

1. Crepe Myrtle

2. Magnolia Bush

3. Tropical Hibiscus

4 . Hawthorn

5. Bamboo Palm

6. Banana

7. Figleaf Palm

8. Basil

9. Boston Fern

10. Golden Bells

Dog-Friendly Shrubs

Are you looking to enhance your garden’s look or add security to your home by planting some shrubs? Make sure they are safe for your dog. Here is a list of 10 dog-friendly shrubs that will add color and beauty to your garden without posing any danger to your pup.

Each of these 10 shrubs is on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) as non-toxic for dogs.

They should not cause any severe threat should your dog decide to nibble on their flowers or leaves.

1. Crepe Myrtle

Many refer to Crepe Myrtle as trees rather than shrubs, but they are easy to maintain when regularly pruned. Crepe Myrtles can grow up to 15-25 feet tall and as wide as 6—15 feet when mature. They are fast-growing when planted with the right conditions. They can increase in height by over 24 inches per year.

2. Magnolia Bush

Most people envision large trees when they hear of Magnolias, but many shrub-sized magnolias are available from garden stores and growers.  Magnolias grow beautiful flowers, but their leaves can be littered in your garden. Be sure you are willing to do a lot of raking before planting these awesome shrubs.

3. Tropical Hibiscus

Chinese Hibiscus is what you will commonly find in garden centers. Hibiscus are large shrubs that can get to be as tall as trees, so make sure you have the ideal space for them. Many Hibiscus varieties have edible flowers, so they should not be a threat to your dogs.

4. Hawthorn

There are many varieties of hawthorns that are great backyard shrubs. Most of these shrubs have edible fruits making them non-toxic for dogs. Be careful, though, not to choose the thorny varieties to avoid injuring your pet.

5. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo-palms are large dog-friendly shrubs that can give your garden a tropical feel. You will need some space to grow this shrub, but it can dominate the beauty of your garden. This shrub is hardy, and some birds can get attracted to their fruits. The bamboo palm is a flowering plant and not a bamboo tree variety.

6. Banana

The banana plant is a tropical shrub and not a tree. The banana shrub can grow to be big; thus, they may not be ideal for all gardens. Nevertheless, they are dog-friendly shrubs. They are robust enough to withstand daily torture from your dog. If you plant many banana shrubs in your garden, you may not need to build a fence to keep your dog inside your yard.

7. Figleaf Palm

The fig leaf palm is one of only a few dog-friendly shrubs that are shade-tolerant. It is also known as the false castor oil plant or the Japanese aralia. Most Figleaf palms are small, but some can be up to 9 feet tall. They have glossy large leaves and clusters of beautiful flowers.

8. Basil

The Basil plant is small, but it can grow to a shrub-like size with proper care. There is a wide range of basil cultivars that are great options if you own a dog. It is harmless and beautiful.

9. Boston Fern

The Boston Fern is known as the Sword, Fern, Feather Palm, and many other names. This plant is excellent for small spaces because it is basically a small shrub. It can grow to only about 3 feet tall, with some varieties being smaller.

10. Golden Bells

Golden Bells are attractive shrubs that immediately attract attention. They are often planted as ornaments to add some color to an all-green landscape. Sometimes they are planted as hedges. They are deciduous plants, so most of their leaves will fall each winter. They will not cause any health problems to your dog.

Reasons Dogs Love Eating Plants

Your dog will love to run around and play in your garden. It will also love to chew on your plants. What could be the reasons dogs love to eat plants?

Plants are tasty to dogs.

Some of the shrubs and ornamental plants you incorporate in your landscape are extremely tasty to dogs. Before planting shrubs in your garden, make sure they are dog-friendly shrubs.


Dogs quickly get bored when they lack stimulating interactions. They will look around and find things to do. They will tend to eat plants to entertain themselves. Provide your dog with plenty of entertaining and interesting toys in the garden to prevent them from picking on your plants.

Nutritional Deficiency

The dog food you serve your doggie may not be giving him enough nutrients. Your dog, by instinct, will be looking at your plants to fulfill his lack of nutritional needs.

Gassy feeling

Your dog will have uncomfortable sensations (full of gas or bloated) when he feels gassy due to some treats and commercial dog food.  He will try to alleviate this feeling by eating plants to vomit or have a bowel movement.

Feeling of nausea

Eating plants to induce vomiting will make your dog feel better when he has a feeling of nausea.

Dogs are scavengers

Dogs are, by nature, scavengers and will tend to eat anything and everything that seems edible, especially when they are hungry. Your plants, shrubs, and grass are most readily in your garden.

Whatever reasons your dogs may have for chewing plants, most vets agree that eating plants and shrubs is relatively not harmful to dogs.

It is, however, better to manage your dog’s carving for your shrubs and plants by adding some vegetables into their diet.

Dangers to Dogs of Chewing Plants

Chewing shrubs and plants can be dangerous for dogs. Not only does chewing your shrubs affect the shrub’s appearance, but it can also make your dog ill if the shrub is toxic.

Some shrubs can be deadly when ingested by dogs. There is also the danger that your dog may choke on the shrub’s leaves or some parts. Branch splinters can also damage your dog’s throat and mouth.

If you suspect your dog has been eating the shrubs, take him to the veterinarian. Taking a part of the shrub can help the vet treat your dog faster and better.

No matter how much you discourage or train your dog to keep off your shrubs, you can never be sure it will. To ensure the safety of your dog, plant dog friendly shrubs.

Shrubs that are Dangerous for Dogs

There is a long list of dog-friendly shrubs.  Unfortunately, there is also a long list of shrubs that can be dangerous to dogs when they chew on their leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits.

If you have dogs, avoid planting any of these shrubs in your garden. They will spell trouble for your dogs:

Eating the leaves can cause your dog to vomit, develop diarrhea, and have a gastrointestinal injury.

Rhododendron and Azalea. Eating a few of the leaves of these shrubs can make your dog sick. They can even cause paralysis, coma, shock, and even death.

The flowers and leaves of this shrub are toxic to dogs and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal injuries.

The bark of a peony contains the toxin paeonol that can cause your dog to vomit and have diarrhea.

All parts of this shrub are toxic not only to dogs but to humans, too. Ingesting these shrub leaves or flowers can cause your dog to have extreme vomiting and an abnormal heart rate. It may also cause your dog to die.

Sago Palm. Every part of this shrub is toxic to dogs. It is considered one of the most toxic shrubs for dogs. Eating just a small number of seed pods can cause your dogs to vomit, have bloody stools, develop diarrhea, have nosebleeds. It can also cause your dog to lose his appetite to eat.

These shrubs can enhance the aesthetic value of your garden. Keeping your dog well and alive is better than having a lovely garden.

Besides, you can plant more beautiful shrubs in your garden that are safe for your dogs.

How to Stop Dogs from Eating Shrubs

A dog is a man’s best friend because this faithful companion will serve and protect you with his life.

It can, however, be frustrating when your dog continues to chew on your shrubs.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep your dog from chewing on your shrubs.


It is normal behavior for your dog to sniff on your shrubs.  Allow them to sniff around but when it starts nibbling on your shrubs, tell them in a firm voice to “stop” and immediately pull it away from the shrubs.

Reward your dog with a treat if it moves away from the shrubs on its own after you say “no.” Continue doing this, and your dog will eventually avoid the shrubs on its own.


Provide chewing alternatives for your dog in the garden. Place chewable toys in some regions of the garden to stop your dog from picking on the shrubs.


Most dogs have short memories, and it can be challenging to stop them from chewing your shrubs. You can “punish” your dog by spraying some bad-tasting but harmless spray to your shrubs.

Check for some “sour apple” spray in garden centers. This spray is intended to deter your hungry dog from nibbling on your shrubs.

Dog-Friendly Landscaping Ideas

A large lawn gives you a lot of space to play with your dog. Playing fetch ball will keep your dog from being stressed and bored indoors. Running around the garden will also help keep your dog in shape.

Although there are many dog-friendly shrubs you can incorporate in your garden, it can still be a struggle to find a suitable shrub. Finding the right shrubs that will thrive and grow in your area that are dog-friendly can be a challenge.

Your garden can be a stimulating and exciting space for dogs. Your dog’s constant digging up of your shrubs and plants, as well as urinating, can cause a lot of havoc in your garden, though.

Being careful in choosing the right dog-friendly shrubs, you also need to be sure that other elements you place on your garden should also be safe for your dogs.

Here are some things you can incorporate in your garden to create a dog-friendly yard.

Incorporate some artificial plants.

This may sound funny, but artificial plants help keep your dogs safe in the garden. Make sure to incorporate artificial plants in your garden correctly.

Artificial plants are not toxic to dogs. They will not die, and you do not need to fertilize, water, and prune them.  Your dog can also pee on them without damaging them.

While artificial plants in your garden are a bit helpful, you do not want to fill your garden with them. What you can do is plant dog-friendly shrubs that will thrive in your region. Fill in some of the gaps within the shrubs or between the shrubs with artificial versions of them.

You can also incorporate some artificial accent plants, fake grass, and artificial hedges. Be careful, though, not to overdo it.

Build a secure and strong fence.

A good fence can help keep your dog secure and safe in your garden. Build a fence that will prevent your dog from squeezing himself through any holes or gaps.

Your dog should not be able to jump over your fence, so ensure it is of a safe height.

If your dog cannot jump over the fence, it may escape through the tunnel under the fence. Regularly check that there are no such escape tunnels under your fence.

You can also plant some climbing plants such as thornless roses or dog-friendly vines to conceal the fence and make it look more beautiful.

The best tip is to build a fence that suits the personality of your dog. Often, a simple picket fence will keep your dog from jumping over the fence.

Sometimes, you will need a sturdy and tall fence to keep your dog in your garden.

Use Statues and some decorations

The main reason you are planting dog-friendly shrubs and plants in your garden is to beautify some space. Shrubs, just like flowers, can help break the monotony of a large garden; they can also add visual interest and color.

Shrubs and plants are not the one thing that can beautify your garden. Statues and various lawn ornaments can complement the shrubs and your landscape.

Statues are typically made of cement, and most garden ornaments are made of resin and other safe materials for dogs. Choose attractive and tasteful decorations to blend with your landscape design.

Do not use chemicals.

If your dog is fond of eating snails or slugs, avoid using chemicals in your garden. There are organic ways to deal with snails and slugs.

Avoid adding additives to your ponds or water features because dogs are always tempted to drink from them.

Keep your dogs off your compost bin.

Your compost bin can contain food scraps that can be attractive yet toxic for your dogs.

Foods such as onions, grapes, and avocados can be harmful to your dogs. Make sure your dogs cannot access your compost bin.

Do not use cocoa bean shell mulch.

The smell of chocolate is attractive to dogs. If you use cocoa bean shell mulch, your dog will get to them, and it can be harmful if they do so.

Instead of cocoa bean shell mulch, use bark clippings and protect your dogs.

Create dog-friendly paths

Your dogs will find it exciting to walk through paved paths. Gravel and stones can hurt your dog’s feet.

Gravel and stones may also get stuck between your dog’s paws. Some dogs are also tempted to pick up small stones and swallow them by accident.

Paved paths are safer for your dogs to walk on. Besides, paved paths can help keep your dog’s nails short and nice, and you no longer need to grapple with them to trim their claws.

Be mindful of grass seeds.

Spreading grass seeds when sprucing up your garden can be dangerous for your dogs.

Your dog can get these seeds into their ears, eyes, and between their toes. Seeds can also burrow into the skin of your dog, and it may need surgery to remove the embedded seeds,

It is, therefore, best to keep your dog off your garden two days after spreading seeds.

Create a digging spot

Some dogs are diggers. If your dog is also a digger, he can wreak havoc on your perfectly landscaped garden.

To prevent your dog from ruining your garden, prepare a dig-pit for him. A dig-pit is only an area filled only with soil.

A dig pit will keep your dog entertained. You can throw in some praise and treats your dog can use when digging.

A special digging spot will keep your dog from digging in other areas of your garden.

Build a Shady Spot

Dogs quickly feel hot on warmer days. Make sure there is a shady spot in your garden for it to relax and rest. Large shrubs and trees create good shades. You can also build some shelters for your dog.

Create a Dogscape

A dogscape is drainage designed to keep your dog off the mud on rainy days. Lay down some gravel where your dog can muck instead of in the mud.

Potted trees, tree stumps, or large rocks can give your dog his own “territory” or a place it can call its own.

This is important for male dogs because they are, by nature, territorial.

Incorporate hardscapes

Hardscapes refer to bricks, stone, concrete, pebbles, tiles, sculpture, boulders, and wood ornaments. Hardscaping also involves building stone structures, retaining walls, and paved paths.

Hardscaping will make your garden less vulnerable to trampling, staining, and digging. It will also make your garden dog-friendly.

Hardscaping can help your dog navigate your garden without causing any damage. Hardscapes can also create natural boundaries without building fences.

Build a water feature

Most dogs love water, and frolicking in an inflatable baby pool will be so much fun for him.

Your dog will also love to play around when your sprinkler hose is on while you water the garden.

If your poop doesn’t like to jump into the baby pool, toss in a few stinky treats and watch him dive into the pool.

Have a sandbox

A sandbox is an excellent alternative to a dig pit. Most dogs love to dig, and they can ruin your landscaping; a sandbox will keep your dog off your shrub and flower beds.

Install the sandbox in an area that is seldom used in your garden. Fill the box with mulch or sand. Make sure it is easy for the dog to dog up. It should also be easy to refill.

A dog-friendly garden will keep your dog safe and happy. It will also keep your dog from chewing on the grass, flower beds, and shrubs.

 How Dog Urine Can Damage Shrubs

Dog urine can be damaging to your shrubs and plants in the garden. Homeowners there are shrubs that are resistant to dog urine.

Unfortunately, it can be impractical.

Many believe that dog urine has a low pH value, which causes problems for grasses, shrubs, and other plants. That belief is not totally accurate.

The acidity or low pH value of dog urine is not ideal for shrubs and other plants that thrive best in alkaline soils.

That, however, is not the main issue. The nitrogenous waste products contained in dog urine, such as urine, are what causes shrubs and other plants to wilt, turn brown and evenly die when repeatedly showered with dog urine.

While plants need nitrogen (it is one of the main ingredients of fertilizers), too much nitrogen can cause danger to shrubs and other plants’ health.

While there are some options for plants that are resistant to dog urine, or plants that can mitigate the harmful effects of dog urine, it can be too much work.

You will need to manage the urine burns of dogs in your garden.

You can do some things to help your shrubs cope with the harmful effects of dog urine.

Train your dog to pee in a spot away from your shrubs.

Make your dog drink enough water. Diluted dog urine can be fertilizer instead of a threat to your shrubs.

Frequently take your dog for a walk. If there is a park or forest near your home, take your dog for a walk. Your dog can pee in these areas during your walks.

Limit the use of fertilizers to mitigate nitrogen contained in dog urine.

You can also plant some shrubs resistant to dog urine so you can enjoy beautiful shrubs without worrying that your lovable dog can cause damage to them. That is having the best of both worlds.

Shrubs resistant to dog urine include:

Miniature stonecrop

Elfin thyme

Silver carpet

Carpet Bugle




These may not be popular shrubs, but they can do wonders in dealing with dog urine’s harmful effects.

If you are not too comfortable with these shrubs, you can follow any of the tips listed above to mitigate dog urine’s harmful effects.

Final Thoughts

Designing your garden around your dogs can be a challenging task. If you intend to plant shrubs in your garden, do some research, consult your vet, or ask help from the garden centers’ experts to ensure you are planting only dog-friendly shrubs.

While you can train your dog to keep off your shrubs or create a dog-friendly garden, there is always a big possibility your dogs will chew on your shrubs.

Creating a balance between enjoying the company of a lovable dog and having a garden lined with beautiful shrubs is not too complex and challenging. Do some research. Consult your vet and the experts in garden centers.

Creating a balance between having a beautiful garden and keeping your dogs safe and healthy is to plant only dog-friendly shrubs.  Enjoy the company and pleasures of taking care of dogs and at the same time enjoy the beauty of having beautiful shrubs in your garden!

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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