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Help, My Dog Ate Dahlias! Are Dahlias Toxic Or Harmful To Dogs?

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Last Updated: September 22, 2023 | 7 min read | Leave a Comment

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Dahlias are a common plant found in many domestic gardens, adding bright pops of color, particularly in the summer months. We love to look at them, but are they worth the risk for your fur babies?

While most of us enjoy being out in the garden, enjoying our flowers in the summer months, what happens if your dog takes an interest in them too?

Let’s explore whether dahlias are safe for dogs and what to do if your dog eats one. We’ll also discuss how to treat your dog at home and what a vet might do to help mitigate symptoms.

What Are Dahlias?

purple dahlia flower up close
We see dahlias in many gardens around the world. They come in many sizes and colors.

Because of their large variety, they make a popular choice to cheer up bedding areas. They are also native to Mexico and Central America, so do very well in these areas, making them a common finding. Due to the number of species, you can get dainty plants through to large ones with plate-sized flowers. Dahlias are usually at their best from mid-summer onwards.

Are Dahlias Toxic To Dogs?

According to the ASPCA, dahlias are mildly toxic to dogs, as well as cats and horses. It’s not known exactly how their toxic mechanism works, but they are thought to contain phototoxic polyacetylene substances that can irritate. Eating these plants could cause mild tummy troubles as well as mild skin irritation. As such, you should stop your dog from eating any part of the plant as a precaution. 

It is worth noting that eating a large volume of any plant material could cause a dog gastrointestinal upset. So, although dahlias are only mildly toxic, you should discourage your dog from eating any of your bedding plants as it’s not a good habit.

Emergencies such as pet poisoning can be costly, so be sure to consider pet insurance for your beloved pup before they start having major health concerns.

What Happens If A Dog Eats A Dahlia Plant?

You may notice the following symptoms if your dog eats a dahlia plant:

  • Mild skin inflammation
  • Blisters
  • Itchiness
  • A rash
  • Mild abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Effects are usually mild and, as such, can be variable, depending on the individual and how much of the plant they have consumed. Some dogs may have a nibble on a flower and not show any issues, whereas another dog may eat several plants and go on to develop sore skin and tummy troubles.

It is worth noting that if your dog has eaten a large amount of any plant material, this could cause some mild self-limiting gastrointestinal upset. So, eating very large amounts of bedding plants, fruits or vegetables is not advisable under any circumstance.

If your pet is showing any concerning signs such as lethargy, weakness, disorientation, severe vomiting, or diarrhea, then you should check that there aren’t any other plants in your garden that they might have eaten alongside the dahlias. 

Always call your veterinarian if your dog has eaten a very large number of dahlias or if they are showing any signs of ill health that you aren’t happy about. 

My Dog Ate A Dahlia, What Should I Do?

multi-colored dog in red flowers dahlias on a flowerbed
First, remove your dog from the area to stop them from eating any more.

Try and limit the amount of dahlia your dog eats by removing them from the area as soon as possible. Clean up any shredded plants to stop him from coming back to munch more later. 

Check If Your Dog Could Have Eaten Any Other Plants Nearby

You may want to check if any of your other plants or flowers have been eaten, as some of these may be even more harmful or toxic to your pet. 

Check To See If Your Dog Is Oksy

Most dogs will only develop mild symptoms after eating dahlias, so if your dog is showing any immediate signs of ill health, you may want to double-check whether there is anything else that they could have consumed

Check The ASPCA Website

If your dog has eaten other plants, you may want to check whether or not these are toxic to your pet. The ASPCA is a good resource, and so is our article about toxic plants that dogs should avoid.

Call Your Veterinarian If You Are Worried Or If Your Dog Is Unwell

If your dog seems sick or you are concerned that they have eaten something other than just the dahlias, then you may want to give your veterinarian a call for some advice. Many dogs will have symptoms that will resolve by themselves or with some bland food for a few days, but always speak to your vet if you aren’t sure.

Dahlia Poisoning In Dogs: Treatment

There is no specific antidote or cure for dahlia consumption in dogs. Any treatment provided is usually aimed at relieving your dog’s symptoms.

If your pet does consume a large number of dahlia plants, then your vet may be able to give them an emetic, which will make them vomit everything up in one go and save your dog from any ongoing digestive irritation or tummy troubles. This is only effective if your dog visits the vet within an hour or two of having eaten the plants.

As part of an initial check-over, your veterinarian should perform an examination to check your dog’s mental status, heart rate, and abdomen for bloating and discomfort, amongst other things. 

If they have any concerns, they may advise running some additional tests, such as a blood panel to check their hematology for signs of infection or anemia and biochemistry to assess things like their liver, kidneys, and blood sugar. This helps to rule out other complicating health issues that could be contributing to your dog’s symptoms. If your dog is dehydrated, then he may need to stay in the hospital for intravenous fluids and monitoring.

Medications such as antibiotics or skin creams may be used if your dog has developed dermatitis after touching the dahlias. 

Your vet may just decide that you can monitor your dog, particularly if he only consumed a small amount of the plant and is otherwise well. Some dogs may benefit from bland food (e.g., cooked chicken, white fish, or boiled rice) for a few days if they have a mild stomach upset. 

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Eating My Dahlias?

A lack of mental stimulation could cause dogs to show destructive behaviors as a method to help alleviate their boredom or perhaps as a way of seeking your attention (albeit negative attention). This could result in them pulling out and chewing at your bedding plants.

Try increasing your dog’s exercise regime to help keep them happy and stimulated. Exercise is a good way of burning off energy, but just going out and giving them a change of scenery with new smells and sights is important. Playing with your pet and grooming them will also give them plenty of positive attention.

Dogs may also show changes in behavior or appetite due to underlying medical conditions. 

Pica is a condition where dogs eat non-food items, which could be plants or other items like soil, bedding, stones, etc. Ensure your dog is on a good quality, complete balanced pet food diet to ensure there are no underlying nutritional deficiencies. 

Speak to your veterinarian, especially if your dog is showing any other abnormal symptoms. Polyphagia, or an increase in appetite, can be seen with a variety of medical disorders and could also drive your pet to eat all sorts of things. Your vet will be able to advise you as to whether any diagnostic tests are required to investigate things further.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating My Plants?

If your dog is showing an unhealthy interest in your garden plants, then you may want to try and stop them, not only to keep your dog safe but also to stop them from ruining your garden.

Try fencing off portions of your garden so that your dog is kept away from heavily planted zones. Alternatively, you could consider spraying plants with bitter-tasting sprays like Grannick’s Bitter Apple to keep your dog from chewing. Just check the spray you are using is safe for both plants and animals.

Training your dog to stay away from your plants is the best way of preventing problems. Using positive reinforcement, such as clicker training, work on his recall such that if he is approaching your plants, you can call him away from them again with ease. A behaviorist or dog trainer may be able to assist you if you are struggling with your dog’s behavior. 

Consider removing any poisonous plants from your garden if your dog is a persistent offender to keep them safe while you start implementing their training program. Increasing your dog’s exercise and providing toys and games to improve their mental stimulation can also help reduce destructive behaviors, as a tired dog is a happy and less destructive dog. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Dahlias Bad For Dogs To Eat?

Dahlias are bad for your dog to eat, as they could cause tummy troubles and contact dermatitis. You should discourage your pet from eating bedding plants generally, as one day, he may accidentally eat something highly toxic.

What Are The Symptoms Of Dahlia Poisoning?

Symptoms of dahlia poisoning are generally mild and can involve skin irritation or gastrointestinal upset (vomiting or diarrhea). In many cases, this is self-limiting, but always contact your vet if your dog seems uncomfortable, lethargic, or off his food.

Can Eating A Dahlia Kill A Dog?

In most cases, your dog will be fine after eating a dahlia, or they may have very mild symptoms of stomach upset. The ASPCA reports that dahlias are only mildly toxic. However, there are other plants that are more dangerous (such as foxgloves, rhododendrons, and daffodils), so always discourage him from chewing or eating flowering plants to stop accidents from happening.

Final Thoughts

Dahlias are mildly toxic to dogs, so you should discourage your dog from eating them. In many cases, any symptoms are mild and self-limiting, but if your dog has eaten a large quantity or seems unwell, then you should call your vet for advice. If your pet is showing an unhealthy interest in plants, generally, you should look to improve their mental stimulation and implement a training regime to work on their behavior. 

Dog gazing a lily

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