Hibiscus plants produce some of the most beautiful flowers you can find. They come in many different colors and vary in size and shape. You might have a few hibiscus plants in your home. This can be concerning if you have a dog who loves playing in the garden, raising the question, is hibiscus poisonous to dogs?
The answer is yes and no. While it might sound confusing, the truth is, there is no simple answer to this question. This is because some species of hibiscus plants and flowers are poisonous.
However, most of them are not poisonous. The problem with this is that there is no way to tell which ones can harm your dog unless you are an expert florist.
Experts also report that the roots of any hibiscus plant are almost always harmful to dogs and can make them sick. With these in mind, you need to keep your dog away from hibiscus plants, regardless of whether they are poisonous or not.
Which Flowers Are Poisonous?
There are over 680 species of hibiscus. The Rose of Sharon plant is the most common one, grown in most households.
The Rose of Sharon is considered the most dangerous as it can cause serious poisoning if your dog ingests it. If you are unsure whether the plant you have at home is the Rose of Sharon or not, it is best to ensure your pup doesn’t get anywhere near it.
What Parts Of Hibiscus Are Poisonous?
As we saw above, the root is the most dangerous part of the plant. However, the stems, leaves, and flowers can also be poisonous. Their toxicity varies depending on the plant itself, or on the amount your dog ate or was in contact with.
If your dog has eaten some part or the whole plant, monitor their reactions. This can help you know whether there is hibiscus poisoning. Get professional advice from your veterinarian if you see some effects or would like to be on the safe side.
Why Is Hibiscus Poisonous To Dogs?
There is not much research to identify the properties causing hibiscus poisoning, but one stands out. This is a property attributed to the plant itself; asparagine. It is an amino acid known for causing unpleasant symptoms in dogs.
Asparagine ingestion can lead to diarrhea, internal blisters and burns, and vomiting. These can affect your dog’s ability to eat and drink. There can be even worse reactions to asparagine in some dogs.
Symptoms Of Hibiscus Poisoning
The symptoms caused by hibiscus vary depending on the species and part of the plant your dog eats. They include:
- Burning in the mouth and throat. Your dog can show this by scratching its face or mouth.
- Damage to the cornea and eye pain (if it touched the eyes)
- Coughing and gagging
- Swelling and blisters on the mouth and tongue
- Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms can indicate hibiscus poisoning but can also signify something else. It is better and more accurate to get a diagnosis from the vet.
Diagnosing Hibiscus Poisoning In Dogs
Your vet will first have to rule out other diseases and conditions to establish hibiscus poisoning. You can help narrow out the similarity of the symptoms by carrying the plant or flower you think your dog was in contact with. Take a picture of it if you cannot carry the whole plant.
The vet will run tests on your dog and the plant to determine if it was the cause of the reaction. You should also tell the vet any symptoms you noticed after the initial contact, the amount your dog ate, and how long it was before the symptoms occurred.
Carry your dog’s medical records with you to help the vet determine other causes. If you don’t have the records with you, inform the doctor if your dog has been sick recently and any medication they might be on. Also, let them know of any strange behaviors or diet changes to help them get a clear and accurate diagnosis.
The veterinarian will also do an extensive physical examination. They will check things like the dog’s:
- Skin and coat condition
- Blood pressure
- Breathing sounds
Urine and stool samples may also be needed for microscopic examination. This helps rule out parasites or infections. The stool sample can also provide portions of the hibiscus, allowing the vet to determine if it is digested.
Asparagine poisoning can have untold effects on your dog, especially in large doses. Because of this, your vet might need to do lab tests to determine:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Liver panel
- Chemistry profile
- Packed cell volume (PCV)
These tests help check the amount of dehydration brought about by diarrhea and vomiting. Your dog might also need an endoscopy to determine if there is any damage to the throat, upper airway, and esophagus.
If you notice that your dog has trouble eating or swallowing, you can request an endoscopy yourself. It might be caused by inflammation or blistering in these areas.
The vet can also do abdominal radiographs to see whether there are any obstructions or plant particles. They might carry out an ultrasound to get a better view of your dog’s abdominal region for a more detailed diagnosis.
Treating Hibiscus Poisoning
The treatment of hibiscus poisoning in dogs consists of these processes:
Your veterinarian might need to induce vomiting in your dog to enable the evacuation. They can do this by giving the dog a peroxide solution or ipecac. This is followed by administering activated charcoal to absorb leftover toxins.
An intravenous fluid will be injected to flush the kidneys. The IV fluid is also used to prevent dehydration.
After carrying out the two processes, the vet will determine whether that is enough or more treatment is needed. If your dog has blisters or burns, the vet may apply a topical lotion or ointment to soothe the burns/blisters. The lotion helps with wounds on the outside of the mouth.
If the injuries are inside their mouth, the vet will give them a cortisone injection. This prevents further infection and soothes the wounds. They will also give you the ointment or spray to apply on your dog until the injuries heal.
Depending on their reaction to the medication, your dog might stay at the hospital for observation or go home with you. If your dog is released and you don’t see any progress after a few days, take them back to the vet. They will run more tests to see if the poisoning has caused underlying issues.
Getting treatment as soon as possible after the poisoning is your best chance to get your dog back to normal. Recovery can take a few days if you follow your vet’s advice. Ensure you give your dog their medication on time and follow the recommended dosage.
Stop their access to hibiscus while recovering and even after to prevent further poisoning. Confine your dog in safe, clean spaces to limit their exposure.
Hibiscus Poisoning Don’ts
Don’t let your dog groom themselves, especially if the substance is on their claws or fur. You should also keep them away from other dogs or family pets because touching other pets can transfer some of the poison to them.
You can instead bathe them to get the substance off. Only do this if you get your vet’s go-ahead. In some cases, washing the chemical can lead to further absorption, which can be even more dangerous.
You should also not treat your pet on your own. Each poisoning case is different, and you might do something that worsens your dog’s symptoms. Do not try flushing the toxins out using the peroxide solution yourself.
Contacting the vet is the best course of action to take for your furry friend. Do not do anything without their instruction.
Because it is hard to identify which hibiscus plants or flowers are poisonous, it is better to stop your dog from coming in contact with any. If your pup ingests or touches hibiscus, monitor their reaction and consult with your vet for the best course of action as soon as possible.