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Is Hibiscus Poisonous To Dogs?

The hibiscus plant is a hardy perennial that has beautiful vibrant flowers and is a popular choice in many gardens and patio pots. Its attractiveness may not be just with us humans however, as many dogs seem to be interested in this eye-catching plant as well. But is it safe for your dog to eat hibiscus? Is Hibiscus Poisonous To Dogs?

Dr. Kirk discusses the potential harmful side effects of ingesting this plant below:

terrier dog beside yellow hibiscus plant

Hibiscus plants are a very popular plant with their bright, colorful tropical-like flowers. With a home or outdoors full of splendid hibiscus, you need to make sure that they are safe for your dogs to be around.

Let’s dive deep and find out if hibiscus are poisonous to dogs before they even enter your home or are planted in your garden.

Dr. Jess explains more about this hibiscus question below:

What is Hibiscus?

Hibiscus is a broad term for many species of plants in the Hibiscus genus of flowering plants. [source] There are hundreds of different types of hibiscus available throughout the world.

The hibiscus plant has large trumpet-shaped flowers ranging in color from white to pink to red to orange, and even multiple shades of purple.

Its bright, tropical flowers are desired by many a gardener, and its hardiness as a perennial make it even more desirable for both landscape and pot gardens alike.

pink hibiscus flower in tropics

What Do Dogs Typically Eat?

Some dogs are not picky at all about what they eat. They’ll eat whatever you offer them- they’re like vacuum cleaners sucking up anything you put in front of them and then some!

Some dogs are on the pickier side of things. Pickier pups can be harder to properly feed because they just won’t eat any food we give them. Try feeding a picky dog something like okra!

A common canine diet for pet dogs consists of a complete dry or wet feed and possibly some form of supplements in some specific cases (however, not all pet dogs need supplements).

Foraging can also be included in the diet if the dog is allowed to roam, or the dog is feral, and of course there are treats that are a part of many dog’s diets!

The diet of every dog breed will very when you are looking into a healthy and complete diet for your pup. So it is important to know when offering food to your dog, what constitutes a healthy choice, and what does not.

An improper diet could put your dog at risk of having problems properly digesting their food and absorbing nutrients correctly. And we don’t want that now do we???

So let’s talk specifically about mayo, since that’s why you clicked over here today, and talk about how it could affect your dog’s overall health and well-being.

Why Do Dogs Eat Plants?

There are a lot of things that dogs do that are hard for us humans to explain…. like why do dogs like sticks? Why do they chase their tails? Why do they chew on plants? Here are a few reasons that may help explain why your pup may be trying to chew down your plant.

Reason #1: Another part of a dog’s natural being, is their affinity to scavenge.

Many dogs like to hunt things down, scavenge, seek, and search.

Whether it is their favorite toy, the best stick in the forest, or they’re hungry for their food bowl to be filled at dinnertime and need a snack in the meantime, some dogs have a natural tenacity to find things to play with, to snack on, or to “collect” for later.

This may just happen to be your hibiscus plant at the moment.

Reason #2: Dogs are by nature very curious. Sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them.

So if you have a new, odd-looking and unfamiliar plant comes into their world, they are likely going to investigate it.

With some dogs, they simply cannot stand not being able to test out new things in their life, espcially taste-testing.

So your dog may be taste-testing your hibiscus to try and figure out what this new plant is.

Likely, they will taste it, decide that it doesn’t taste amazing, and leave the rest of it alone.

Some dogs will continue to taste-test, and the plant will need to be moved so that your dog can no longer get to it and eat more of it.

thick pink hibiscus plant

What Makes Some Plants Toxic to Dogs?

This is a hard question to answer because each plant is different.

Some plants contain toxic substances that can make your dog sick in different ways depending on where the chemical takes effect.

Sometimes the liver is affected, other times it is the kidneys, and others affect the circulatory system or a multitude of other body systems are affected.

If you are worried or concerned over a specific plant’s toxicity, contact your local vet immediately.

Are Hibiscus Poisonous to Dogs?

Yes, some hibiscus types are poisonous to dogs, such as the Rose of Sharon. The plant can contain ingredients that are toxic to your dog.

Ingesting it can cause signs of diarrhea, vomiting, blistering of the mouth and digestive system (ouch! Makes it hard to eat or drink!), and significant internal damage that can lead to severe health concerns if not treated timely and appropriately.

Because there are so many different types of hibiscus out there, as a veterinarian, I like to play it safe, and I tell clients that in general, hibiscus should be treated as if it is toxic to your dog.

Assume that the type of hibiscus that your dog comes into contact with, is a toxic type – and don’t let them eat it.

But just because some types of hibiscus plant are non-toxic to your dog, does not mean that eating the non-toxic type of hibiscus won’t give them any trouble, because even the non-toxic types can cause harm.

white puppy laying beside chewed up hibiscus petals

Can Hibiscus Be Harmful to Dogs?

Now that we’ve decided that hibiscus can be toxic to dogs if ingested, we need to understand some of the risks involved if they do happen to grab a taste.

Not only can your dog experience the vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and burns and blisters if they eat the toxic forms of hibiscus, but the non-toxic forms of the plant can have determental effects too.

You should keep these three factors in mind:

Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea/Upset Stomach

Too much fiber from munching on the hibiscus leaves, can mean hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.

Some dogs are more sensitive to additional fiber in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.

Other dogs will not be impacted by any additional fiber in their diets.

Harmful Reason #2: Pesticides

Many store-bought plants have pesticide products on them to keep the plant free from pests/bugs. Some plants also have chemical sprays applied on them to decrease fungal growth, chemicals that you don’t want your dog in contact with, and definitely not ingesting.

Any of these ingredients, artificial or not, can be cause for an allergic reaction or upset stomach.  Anything that your dog puts in their mouth and consumes is fair game for an allergic reaction. 

Harmful Reason #3: Allergic Reaction to Plants

A dog can develop an intolerance or an allergy to anything that they ingest, so there is always the possibility that your dog is allergic to hibiscus.

If you suspect your dog is allergic to this plant do NOT allow your dog to feast upon this plant and contact your local veterinarian immediately.

If your dog is allergic to hibiscus and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.

If your dog is allergic and the plant is ingested, the dog’s body may treat the ingested plant as a severe allergen and attack it, using the dog’s own immune system. 

When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:

Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to foods:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Itching/Increased grooming
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • etc.
yellow lab laying near yellow hibiscus plant

Summary:

Some types hibiscus plant is can be toxic to dogs, meaning that the plant itself may contain materials that are deemed toxic to dogs.

And just because the type of popular flowering plant is one of the non-toxic types of hibiscus, does not mean that if your dog consumes this plant, that they will not show any negative signs.

There is a list of signs and symptoms that may help indicate that the hibiscus plant that your dog ate is not sitting well with them.

And as always, if your dog shows any adverse signs after ingesting part of a hibiscus plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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