Are dogwood berries poisonous to dogs?

Is Consumption of Dogwood Berries Safe for Dogs and Cats?

It is not safe to feed dogwood berries to your pet (cat or dog), as this fruit can trigger gastrointestinal distress, and cause diarrhea and vomiting. Read this CatAppy article to know about the toxicity level of dogwood berries for dogs.

Most Toxic!

Castor bean, Nerium oleander, Cyclamen, and the European mistletoe are some of the plants that are considered to be most toxic for dogs. So, in case you have a pet dog, avoid planting them in your garden or inside the house.

Dogwood trees belong to the genus Cornus, and are around 15 to 30 feet tall. They are different species of dogwood trees, but the Cornus canadensis and Cornus suecica species are well-known for their attractive red-colored berries.

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Many pet owners are confused about the safety of feeding these berries to their furry and feline friends. The following sections discuss the effects of feeding dogwood berries as far as pet health is concerned.

Can Dogwood Berries Be Given to Dogs and Cats?

One should avoid feeding dogwood berries to both, dogs and cats. As these berries have a slightly sour taste, their consumption can cause irritation in the gastrointestinal tract. Your pet is likely to vomit or suffer from diarrhea due to this GI irritation. Dogwood berries are in toxicity class III category, meaning, they are slightly toxic for dogs and cats. Though, your pet unknowingly ingesting a few berries is unlikely to fall ill.

The risk of GI problems is pretty high, particularly when they are given in high amounts. Moreover, dogwood berries have large seeds, which means excess feeding can lead to bowel obstruction, especially in cats and small dogs.

As these berries are considered slightly poisonous, their consumption is unlikely to have a negative impact on the liver or kidney functioning. Also, till date, there have been no cases of organ failure in pets arising from ingesting dogwood berries.

Difference in Opinion

Although the side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting in dogs and cats are often reported due to ingestion of dogwood berries, surprisingly, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) does not consider this plant or its fruit to be toxic. However, the American Dog Trainer’s network deems the fruit of this plant to be toxic.

Even the Minnesota Poison Control System (MPCS) lists the dogwood plant as mildly poisonous for animals. In spite of this difference in opinion, the fact remains that dogwood berries are GI tract irritant for pets, which can unsettle their digestive system.


As far as treatment is concerned, avoid feeding anything for at least 8 hours. You need to do this until the vomiting completely stops. The vet may advice you to give famotidine every 12 to 24 hours, which will help calm your pet’s tummy troubles. Slowly introduce easily digestible foods, such as rice boiled with chicken, when your pet starts feeling better. Continue giving bland food until it recovers completely.

Are Dogwood Berries Safe to Eat for Humans?

Although dogwood berries are not considered poisonous for humans, one should take a cautious approach to eating these berries.

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Too much consumption can be problematic for your health. You got to be more careful, particularly when giving this to small children, as they may choke on the berries due to their large seeds. To be on the safer side, isolate the pits and seeds from the berries before giving them to children. All in all, don’t go overboard when eating dogwood berries. Having them in moderation or in small amounts is not a cause for concern

On the whole, while the health risk is minimal when feeding a few berries, giving in large quantities is a cause for concern, and most likely to upset the digestive system of your pet. However, to be on the safer side, it is advisable to altogether avoid feeding berries to your pet cat or dog.

Disclaimer : The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a vet.

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11 Common Toxic Plants to Avoid

Soon we will be frequenting the gardening stores to brighten our homes and yards with plants. Be wary if you spot your pet nibbling on plants. Numerous flowers, bushes, ivies, and fruit trees prove toxic to animals, but house pets will occasionally decide to test them. Here’s a short list to give you an idea, but the list of toxic plants your pet might encoun…ter is much larger. If you ever have reason to believe that your pet has eaten something toxic and you see some of the signs listed below, call a Vet right away, any time day or night.

• Azalea, Rhododendron, Rosebay: All 250 species of this plant are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. The species rhododendron catawbiense is native to the Alleghany Mountains and found locally. Ingestion of a few leaves can cause serious problems. It interferes with muscle function including the heart. Horses don’t like the taste and will typically avoid it unless there is nothing else to eat.

• Caladium, Elephant Ears, Mother-in-Law Plant: Toxic to Cats and Dogs due to insoluble calcium oxalates. Signs include oral irritation, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

• Crabapples & Apricots: Stems, leaves, and seeds contain cyanide. They are particularly toxic when wilting. Signs of toxic ingestion included brick red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, panting, shock.

• Aloe: Signs of ingestion include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.

• Arrow-Head Vine: Toxic to dogs and cats due to insoluble calcium oxalates. Signs of toxic ingestion include oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

• Lilies: Lilies are mysterious in that they are highly toxic to cats, and the exact reason is unknown. Cats are the only species known to be affected. Signs of toxic ingestion include vomiting, lack of appetite, lethargy, kidney failure, and death.

• Baby’s Breath: Clinical signs include vomiting and diarrhea

• Boxwood: This bush contains alkaloids toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of ingestion in cats and dogs. Can be a source of colic in horses.

• Buttercup, Buttercress, Figwort: Signs of toxic ingestion include wobbly gait, excessive salivation, anorexia, depression, diarrhea, and vomiting

• Calla Lily: Insoluble calcium oxalates, same as above.


Buttercup, of the Ranunculus family, is commonly called Butter cress and Figwort. These plants are found throughout the United States. Most are weeds found in overgrazed pastures, meadows, and fields. A few varieties are grown as ornamental plants. The plants contain the chemical ranunculin, which, when crushed or chewed, becomes the toxin protoanemonin. Protoanemonin is a bitter-tasting oil that irritates the mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, and is poisonous to horses, cats, and dogs. The flower part contains the highest amount of toxin. Thankfully, buttercup generally doesn’t pose a serious threat because the toxin’s bitter taste and ability to cause mouth blisters limits the amount an animal will eat. However, poisoning can occur in overgrazed pastures where there are little to no other plants for horses to consume. When ingested, it can result in redness and swelling of the mouth, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. In larger amounts, ingestion by animals can result in blood-tinged urine, tremors, and rarely, seizures.

In horses, signs may not be seen for 1-2 days, depending on the amount ingested. Nose, lips, face, and skin may blister or swell after direct contact with plant. Blisters in the mouth, oropharynx, and esophagus also are common. Other signs include excessive salivation, an irritated gastrointestinal tract, colic, and bloody diarrhea. Tremors, seizures, and paralysis occur in rare cases.

Content written by: Dr. Lynn Hovda, DVM, RPH, MS, DACVIM, Director of Veterinary Services, Pet Poison Helpline

Lilies are beautiful, and lovely to see in the spring. They’re especially common now, as Easter approaches.

BUT… Lilies are extremely dangerous for cats. If your cat goes outside and brushes against a lily in your neighbor’s yard, the tiny amount of pollen that sticks to her fur, when she licks it off, is enough to cause acute, fatal kidney failure. Symptoms may include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusual thirst
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Scanty or absent urination
  • Seizures
  • Death

Many plants are toxic to pets, especially bulbs, including:

  • Lilies (any plants in the Lilium and Hermerocallis genera), including Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Easter lilies, and Wood, Stargazer, Red, Western, Asiatic, and Japanese Show lilies.
  • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
  • Begonia (Begonia spp.)
  • Buttercup (Ranunculus spp)
  • Crocuses (including fall-blooming Colchicum autumnale as well as more common spring crocuses, which are in the Iris family)
  • Daffodils (Narcissus)
  • Gladiola (Gladiolus spp.)
  • Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)
  • Irises (Iridaceae)
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)
  • Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
  • Trillium (Trillium)
  • Tulips (Tulipa)

If you have bulbs planted in your garden, or if you bring a plant or bouquet indoors, be cautious. For garden plants, you may want to consider fencing to keep critters out. Indoor plants need to be secured well away from pets. Many cats have been poisoned by chewing on plants that a guardian was absolutely sure they couldn’t get to! (For a more comprehensive list of poisonous and dangerous plants, .)

If you know or suspect that your cat has chewed on or been exposed to lilies, contact your veterinarian immediately. Early, aggressive treatment is her best chance for survival.

Flower Spotlight – Ranunculus

There is beauty in everything coming from nature, but Ranunculus flowers simply go above and beyond expectations. With their incredibly radiant colors, it is true to say that they will brighten anyone’s day!

Origins and Symbolism
Ranunculus are best known as Buttercup Flowers, but some may also know them as Coyote’s Eyes. Legend has it that the Native American mythological figure “Coyote” was throwing his eyes up in the air and catching them every time, when suddenly “Eagle” snatched them. Coyote not being able to see grabbed two buttercups creating a pair of new eyes, allowing him to see the beauty of this world once again.

This isn’t the only legend surrounding this beautiful flower. Another legend tells of a shy, handsome Persian prince who lived longing to declare his love for a nymph. Not being able to do so, he died of heartbreak and turned into a giant Ranunculus flower.

Turban Buttercup is another alternative name for this flower. It derives from a species that originated in the Middle East. The Victorian meaning of Ranunculus is “you are rich in attractions,” making this a very romantic flower choice.

To Consider
Ranunculus use a lot of energy for they produce complex, multi-petal flowers. Make sure to add all purpose fertilizer when you plant them and every two weeks supplement with half strength fertilizer while the plants are growing.

Also note that these flowers are poisonous when eaten fresh by cats, dogs, horses and cows. They contain juices that can irritate or damage their digestive systems. So, make sure to keep you little friends away from these blooms.

Ranunculus come in a variety of vibrant colors such as yellow, red, pink, orange, copper, and white with dark or yellow centers. Once cut, these flowers last for a week. This makes them perfect for bridal bouquets or centerpieces. They are most popular in the mild-winter regions of the South and West.

If you want to put your hands on these beautiful flowers, head to your local florist today! Check back with the Bloomin’ Blog for more tips on flowers!

Photo by iMarly

The Ugly Truth About Bleeding Heart and Foxglove

Are you looking for new plants to put in your yard and flower beds, but you’re not sure what to choose as a dog owner? It’s crucial that you do some necessary research before selecting new flowers, shrubs, and trees for your lawn. Without proper information, you could plant something that’s dangerous to your dog’s health.

Some plants are common in yards for their beauty and hardiness: bleeding hearts and foxglove are two of these attractive options. For local gardeners, these lovely landscaping additions come with possible dangers—at least, they pose a problem for your furry friends. Did you know that both bleeding hearts and foxgloves can be deadly to your dog if ingested? Here’s what you need to know about keeping your dog safe.

Toxicity of Bleeding Hearts and Foxglove Bulbs

Both bleeding hearts and foxgloves are dangerous to your dog for different reasons. Bleeding heart plants (Dicentra Formosa) is high in alkaloids and isoquinoline—a convulsant. The roots and foliage of the bleeding heart plant are problematic for dogs, and humans as well—although Fido is more likely to try to make a meal out of a bouquet.

Foxgloves, on the other hand, contain toxins that can affect your dog’s heart. These toxins include cardiac glycosides. Interestingly, these toxins are used to create digoxin-a cardiac medication, which can be used by vets to strengthen and regulate a failing heart. For a heart-healthy pet, however, cardiac glycosides can cause severe heart issues.

Know the Symptoms

The best way to protect your pet from potential health problems is to make sure you keep a close eye on them. If your dog ever appears to be rooting around in the garden or eating any foliage whatsoever, stop them and offer water. Bring them inside if they won’t stay away from a part of your landscaping. If they appear to be acting abnormally or if you know that they’ve ingested a plant, call your veterinarian immediately.

Know the symptoms and signs of poisoning if your dog is regularly around foxgloves and bleeding heart plants.

The signs of bleeding heart poisoning are:

  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Drooling
  • Dermatitis
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures

Remember: ingesting bleeding heart plants could be fatal to your dog, so don’t hesitate to call if you believe your dog has eaten one.

The signs of foxglove poisoning are:

  • Weakness and collapsing
  • Drooling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Slowed pulse
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

Remember: ingesting foxgloves can be fatal to your dog. Call your vet immediately if you think your dog has gotten into foxgloves. Or if your vet can’t be research, contact Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435.


For most dog owners, it’s safest to research every plant before including it in your landscaping. It’s never worth your dog’s life to plant something that’s pleasing to the eye at the expensive of your pet’s health and safety.

If you’re visiting a friend’s backyard or traveling, make sure to keep your pet with you at all times and observe their behavior. Don’t let them wander in a strange backyard unsupervised, and don’t let them eat any foliage. If you think your dog has eaten a plant of any kind, do your best to identify it quickly and call your vet. There are many different kinds of plants that are toxic to dogs, especially if ingested in large quantities.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Dog owners: before you go out and buy a pretty plant, do your research! Some houseplants and common garden plants can be dangerous for dogs—even deadly—so make sure you know before you grow. We’ve rounded up 20 of the most poisonous plants for dogs along with photos for quick identification.

Pro tip: keep a pet first aid kit on hand, whether you assemble it yourself or buy a handy pre-made one.

20 Poisonous Plants for Dogs

1. Aloe Vera

Wikimedia Commons/3268zauber

Aloe is on the list of poisonous plants for dogs, even though it’s great for humans. Yes, this stuff is great to have on hand for skin-soothing purposes, but it’s not so fun when your dog decides to munch on a leaf. Topical use of the gel found inside the leaves is no problem, but there are other proponents of the plant that can irritate the digestive system if ingested.

2. Hedera Helix, or “Ivy”

Wikimedia Commons/Chery

You know it as ivy and it sure looks pretty falling from a bookshelf, but things will get not pretty if you ingest its leaves. Symptoms range from something minor such as breathing difficulties or a rash, and can be as serious as paralysis or even coma, so make sure it’s far out of reach.

3. Crassula Ovata, or “Jade”

Wikimedia Commons/Attilio Mileto

A rubber plant popular for its hard-to-kill properties, crassula ovata, commonly known as jade, is toxic to pets and can cause vomiting and a slow heart rate in addition to a hard-to-identify symptom: depression.

4. Dieffenbachia, or “Dumb Cane”

Wikimedia Commons/Louise Wolff

It’s the common houseplant with an uncommon name. Chewing on the leaves of this low maintenance plant can lead to severe swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue, which can in turn lead to difficulty breathing and in severe cases, death.

5. Philodendron

Wikimedia Commons/LucaLuca

Like dieffenbachia, philodendron is a popular pick for its low maintenance needs, but if ingested, can result in swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue as well as digestive issues, spasms, and even seizures.

6. Epipremnum Aureum, or “Pothos,” or “Devil’s Ivy”

Wikimedia Commons/Epipremnum Aureum

Like its close cousin philodendron, pothos is a hard-to-kill houseplant with very few needs. Unfortunately, that means it can also cause the same symptoms as philodendron if ingested.

7. Cycas Revoluta, or “Sago Palm”

Wikimedia Commons

Sago palm lends an instant exotic look to your home, but every single part of the plant—from the seeds and the roots all the way to the leaves—are poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and in some cases, liver failure.

8. Zamioculcas, a.k.a. “ZZ Plant”, “Zanzibar gem”, or Emerald Palm

Wikimedia Commons/WeFt

Attractive to people with little to no light, the ZZ plant can cause adverse reactions such as vomiting and diarrhoea.

9. Caladium, or “Elephant Ear”

Wikimedia Commons/KENPEI

Whatever you call it, caladium is a favourite for its colourful leaves. However, it’s bad news if ingested and can cause swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue, lots of drooling, and vomiting.

10. Dracaena Fragrans, or “Corn Plant”

Wikimedia Commons/Jerzy Opioła

Vomiting—sometimes with blood—is the main symptom when the corn plant is ingested, but it can also lead to appetite loss and depression.

11. Asparagus Fern

Wikimedia Commons/Yinan Chen

It doesn’t just cause vomiting and diarrhoea if ingested, but it can also create skin irritation if your dog is exposed to it repeatedly.

12. Lily of the Valley

Anyone who’s seen Breaking Bad knows that Lily of the Valley is pretty poisonous. If ingested symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, a drop in heart rate, severe cardiac arrhythmias, possible seizures and even death.

13. Hyacinth

These beautiful flowers produce a gorgeous scent but watch out, if your dog eats them they can experience intense vomiting, diarrhoea (occasionally with blood) depression and tremors.

14. Narcissus or “Daffodils”

You know spring’s arrived when you spot daffodils popping up everywhere. Unfortunately though they contain toxic alkaloids that can result in severe gastrointestinal illness, convulsions, seizures, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmias if ingested by dogs.

15. Tulips

Another springtime favourite, tulips are unfortunately another one to keep away from your dog. Ingestion can result in intense vomiting, depression, diarrhoea, hyper-salivation and loss of appetite.

16. Azaleas & Rhododendrons

All parts of all types of these beautiful garden plants are considered poisonous to both pets and humans. If ingested it can cause severe gastrointestinal upset followed by weakness, paralysis, cardiovascular collapse, and death.

17. Colchicum Autumnale or “Crocus”

Keep your little buddy away from these pretty little blooms because if she ingests them she could experience excessive salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, gastro-intestinal disorders, a loss of appetite, tremors, convulsions, and seizures.

18. Digitalis Purpurea or “Foxglove”

Although its trumpet like blossoms are very beautiful, Foxgloves are also very poisonous to dogs, cats, and humans. When ingested the results can include cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, cardiac failure, and even death.

19. Lathyrus Latifolius, Lathyrus Odoratus or “Sweet Pea”

Although sweet peas sound like they should be edible, they actually contain a toxic chemical called aminoproprionitrile which causes weakness, lethargy, tremors, seizures, and possibly death.

20. Cyclamen or “Persian violet” or “Sowbread”

This pretty houseplant is very common but it contains irritating saponins which are highly toxic if chewed or ingested by dogs and cats. Symptoms include excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhoea. If a large amount is ingested it can result in cardiac problems, seizures, and even death.

Safe plants for dogs

Scared? Never fear! Life-threatening reactions are rare, but it’s better to be safe. And there are plenty of options for 100% non-toxic houseplants, too. Looking to brighten up your home and freshen up the air? These are dog-safe:

  • Blue echeveria
  • “Burro’s tail”
  • “Hens and chicks”
  • Bamboo
  • “Ponytail palm”

Happy planting! Whether you rely on to gain insight into dog behaviour, to find out more cool dog facts, or for amazing dog boarding and walking services, we’ve got your back!

Top image via Flickr/HackBitz

Flowers are blooming everywhere—and our dogs might be trying to snack on them. The concern? Some of the most beautiful blooms are hazardous to dogs. In fact, many pet parents don’t realize that these ten popular flowers are toxic for dogs. Read on for pictures, details, and symptoms to watch for.

A word to the wise: it’s a great idea to keep a pet first aid kit (or two) around. And if your dog ate a flower you believe may be poisonous, or is showing symptoms of distress, call your vet or animal poison control immediately.

After reading, check out these dog-safe plants that work well in most any garden.


Source: Flickr

She’s a beaut, but the Naked Lady, as she’s sometimes known, will cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors and a nonexistent appetite if eaten.


Source: Flickr

Your dog ate an azalea flower? It only takes a few leaves to lead to side effects as serious as blindness, seizures, comas, or even death.

If you catch your dog eating azalea, or presenting food poisoning–like symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.) seek veterinary care immediately.

Baby’s Breath

Source: Flickr

Baby’s Breath is a lovely way to round out a bouquet, and, unfortunately, a quick way to make your dog’s intestinal tract hate him.

On the “poisonous flowers for dogs” scale, it’s low, but you’ll want to monitor your pup closely if he did get a mouthful. Give him one teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight of hydrogen peroxide to encourage vomiting.


Source: Flickr

Your dog ate a begonia? It’s not a serious problem unless he ate a lot of it. It’s toxic, but mildly so, and symptoms are often only as severe as some drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.


Source: Flickr

Let’s say you got a bundle of carnations for your birthday. And your dog promptly ate them for dinner. The bad news? Your carnations will probably, uh, reincarnate as vomit or diarrhea.

The good news? It’d take a bundle of bundles to do any severe damage.


Source: Flickr

The cyclamen’s white, pink, red, and purple petals make for a stunning showing, but ingesting a large number of cyclamen tubers will result in heart issues, seizures, and possibly death for dogs.


Source: Flickr

They’re everywhere, bright and yellow and perfect—and poisonous. Eating one will lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, tremors, and heart problems for dogs.


Source: Flickr

No matter the variety (and there are lots of ’em), lilies aren’t good for your dog. They aren’t deadly but can cause gastrointestinal issues, depression, anorexia, and tremors in dogs.


Source: Flickr

The pale pink petals sure look pretty, but in the world of toxic flowers for dogs, oleander is near the top.

Virtually all parts of the flower are considered toxic—even the water in a vase—and signs of poisoning range from gastrointestinal issues to more serious symptoms including tremors, seizures and, unfortunately, death.


Source: Flickr

So your dog dug up those tulip bulbs you just planted in the garden and brilliantly decided to swallow them. One might lead to some irritation in the mouth, including drooling and difficulty swallowing.

More than that could see vomiting, diarrhea, an increased heart rate, and even issues breathing.

For a full list of plants and flowers that are poisonous to dogs, consult the ASPCA’s guide here.


Pet Poison Helpline

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

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Dangerous Effects

It is vital to make sure your doggy never goes near a castor bean plant, much less puts any part of it into his mouth. When a dog consumes castor bean plants, it may lead to a variety of extremely dangerous consequences, including seizures, renal failure, diarrhea, coordination problems, vision dullness, bloody diarrhea, throwing up, fever, abnormal thirst, throat and oral burning sensations, rapid heart rate, labored breathing, sweating, irritation of the mouth, excessive salivation, loss of appetite, feelings of weakness, straining of the lower belly, decreased blood pressure and shivering. In rare cases, castor bean consumption can even be deadly.

In general, these symptoms do not appear instantly, but between 12 hours and 2 days of consumption. Even ingesting a very negligible amount of the beans can lead to severe results in pets.

Any and all of these symptoms call for veterinary help as soon as possible. The sooner you seek assistance for your suffering dog, the sooner you can help him get back to health.


Dear veterinary clients of mine shared a story of how an acquaintance of theirs lost both of her dogs to castor bean poisoning here in the Inland Empire. Every dog owner is sensitive to poinsettias, mistletoe, yesterday, today and tomorrow and lily toxic plants but few know that here in our home area is a plant far more toxic- the castor bean plant. The toxin in the fruit bean of this plant is the most toxic chemical known to man, ricin,-the very toxin dust mailed to our last two presidents and other members of congress by radicals on both sides of the political spectrum.

The Castor Bean Plant

As you can see by the picture, the castor bean is a lovely plant that has become a staple of landscaping in southern California homes. It has also become a very common plant in our wilderness and hiking areas. Originally it was cultivated to produce Castor Oil, a potent constipation remedy. The pods of this beautiful plant emit an odor that is very attractive to animals, especially dogs. The pods contain a bean that the animals readily eat. Only 8 beans are lethal to a medium sized dog.

Symptoms and Treatment of Castor Bean Toxicity

Symptoms of mild exposure are generally loss of appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting and diarrhea 12-48 hours after eating the beans. Trembling, loss of coordination, seizures, coma and death can follow for dogs eating the toxic quantity of beans.

There is no antidote for ricin and supportive care with intravenous fluids is the only option for dogs ingesting sub-lethal doses of the beans.


Castor bean plants are a staple plant in our SoCal landscaping, wilderness and recreational trails. Make sure your pet is leashed on all excursions to avoid ingestion of castor beans or other toxic or unsafe materials.

Toxic Principle Several toxic compounds are found in the leaves and seeds. Ricinoleic acid is the primary component of castor oil. Ricin (glycoprotein) is found in highest concentration in the seeds. The oral lethal dose of castor beans has been determined to be; horses 0.1gm/kg, sheep 1.25gm/kg, pigs 1.4gm/kg, cattle 2gm/kg, goats 5.5gm/kg. Castor oil (90% ricinoleic acid) produced from castor beans is a potent purgative. After extraction of the oil, the remaining’cake’ once heat-treated is a useful, high protein food source for cattle. Ricin is a highly poisonous compound that can be absorbed from the intestinal tract, and after being metabolized in the liver, it is absorbed into cells where it inhibits ribosomal protein synthesis. Toxic effects appear within a few hours and is generally fatal. Unless the seeds are well chewed prior to them being swallowed, the toxin will not be available for absorbtion, and signs of poisoning will be minimal if any. Birds that eat the seeds will be affetced because their muscular stomach grind the seeds to release the toxins. The leaves of the castor bean plant are also poisonous causing transitory muscle tremors, ataxia, and excessive salivation. fatalities are rare in animals eating the leaves. Description An annual or short-lived perennial, growing to a small tree in warmer climates. Leaves are large, alternate, palmate with 5-11 serrate lobes. New leaves are usually red-purple in color turning green with maturity. The male and female flowers are produced on terminal panicles. The fruit is a spiny capsule, blue-green initially, turning brown/black. Each capsule splits into 3 sections containg a shiny grey and brown mottled seed.
Gastrointestinal After ingestion of the well-chewed seeds, signs of colic and diarrhea develop. In most species pyrexia, depression, anorexia, colic and abdominal distension are initial presenting signs. Depending on the quantity of toxin absorbed, severe vomiting, weakness and hemorrhagic diarrhea may develop that results in sever shock-like symptoms and death. Rumen stasis and bloat are common in cattle.
Musculoskeletal Muscle weakness and tremors.
Treatment Castor beans should be removed from the digestive tract by inducing vomiting or administrating activated charcoal, and mineral oil via stomach tube. Aggressive intravenous fluid therapy to counteract the effects of dehydration and shock are indicated. High doses of vitamin C are reported to be beneficial.
Cardiovascular system Hypovolemic shock.
Special Notes Do not feed castor oil cake to ruminants unless it has been heat treated. Castor bean plants should not be planted in or near livestock enclosures. References 1. Albretsen JC, Gwaltney-Brant SM, Khan SA.Evaluation of castor bean toxicosis in dogs: 98 cases. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2000;36:229-233. 2. Wedin GP, Neal JS, Everson GW, Krenzelok EP. Castor bean poisoning. Am J Emerg Med. 1986;4:259-61. 3. Jensen WI, Allen JP. Naturally occurring and experimentally induced castor bean (Ricinus communis) poisoning in ducks. Avian Dis. 1981;25:184-94.

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