Are Hostas Poisonous to Dogs (Flowers, Leaves, & Bulbs Being Toxic)

are hostas poisonous to dogs

Hosta flowers are a fairly common flower, with over forty species recorded. Due to how ubiquitous Hosta plants and flowers are, your dog could come into contact with them in any garden or on any walk. But should you be worried about this flower being poisonous?

In this guide I will explain whether Hostas are toxic to dogs, why you should be careful and what to look out for if your dog does eat Hosta flowers, leaves, or bulbs.

Are Hostas poisonous to dogs? Dogs cannot eat Hosta plants as they are very toxic to canines. The entire plant, including the Hosta flowers, leaves, stems, and bulbs will make your dog sick and can be fatal in rare cases. Mostly your dog will vomit and have diarrhea.

Despite how common Hosta flowers are, that doesn’t mean they are safe for your dog. Mostly found in the shadier areas of your garden, this fluorescent green plant has many good qualities. Being a snack for your dog to eat is definitely not one of those qualities.

But why are Hostas poisonous to dogs?

Why are Hostas toxic to dogs?

Part of the Agavaceae family (read more), Hosta plants are perennial, herbaceous plants native to China, Korea, and Japan. However, in recent years they have become a popular plant and flower in the UK and United States, but in turn this has meant dog owners have needed to become more vigilant.

Visually, they’re attractive and as such are a popular choice for landscaping: their leaves are often ribbed and striped, and from the leaves emerge long stalks that look further elongated by the fact that flowers bloom at the very tip.

The flowers, which bloom in white, purple or blue, make them a visually pleasing features of most gardens, whilst also probably attracting the attention of your dog.

However, as visually pleasing as the Hosta plant and flower are, every single part of it including the leaves, stalks, flowers, roots and bulbs are toxic to dogs.

So, if you find Hosta plants in your backyard, or have some around for decorative purposes, it is important to remove them in order to ensure your dog’s safety.

hosta flowers poisonous to dogs
Hosta flowers are poisonous to dogs as are the leaves and bulbs.

Can dogs eat Hostas and be ok?

Consuming poisonous Hosta plants can cause mild symptoms to death depending on how much of the plant was ingested. What makes these Hosta flowers and bulbs poisonous to dogs is the fact that they all contain a dangerous substance called saponin.

Sometimes used to make soap-like products, saponin, which is derived from the Latin word for ‘soap’, can foam up when reacted with water. Although there is not enough saponin in the Hosta plant to make soap with, the ‘foaming up’ reaction is what makes it dangerous and toxic for dogs to consume.

If your dog consumes Hosta flowers, leaves or bulbs then it will be poisonous as the saponin in the plant will fill his stomach with foam, prevent him from vomiting and even temporarily paralyse his intestinal track.

This will mean that the dog will initially be unable to vomit or go to the toilet, but usually vomiting and diarrhea will develop further down the line.

Will Hostas kill your dog?

Many veterinary websites describe Hostas flowers, leaves, and bulbs as a mild toxin. This means that in most cases, your dog will just be sick rather than dying.

However, you should never take this for granted, as with bigger dogs particularly, there’s the additional risk of the ingestion of saponin leading to a twisting or loading of the stomach or intestines: a very urgent medical issue that can prove fatal to your dog.

So, whilst the Hosta plants may look harmless, they can inflict serious damage on your dog. This is why it is important to remain vigilant to any signs that your dog may have ingested the plant and is consequently poisoned.

If your dog has eaten Hostas, please consult with your vet immediately for professional advice and treatment where required.

Symptoms of Hostas poisoning in dogs

As previously mentioned, if your dog eats any part of the Hosta plant, they are at risk of getting poisoned. Here are some of the most common symptoms of poisoning to look out for:

  • Bloating
  • Depression
  • Distress
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diorrhea
  • Twisting of intestines

Different dogs present different symptoms; but generally, you can assume that if your dog has any symptoms of an upset stomach after eating Hostas, he may well be having a reaction to the saponin.

My dog ate Hosta – what to do?

If your dog has suspected saponin poisoning, you and your vet will work together to treat the illness in a variety of ways. It is important to act quickly to minimise any possible damage to your dog.

Treatment of dogs that ate Hostas plants and flowers

Inducing vomiting

If your dog has not vomited by themselves or you yourself have not induced vomiting in your pet, your vet will perform a procedure called emesis to get rid of the saponin in your dog’s system.

The vet will then administrate some activated charcoal, which will absorb any toxins from the Hostas plants that would otherwise enter your dog’s system and cause further harm.

IV fluids

In order to prevent dehydration, you or your vet will also provide your dog with intravenous (IV) fluids. These fluids also work to promote kidney function, help with urination, restore any imbalances within your dog’s system and ensure that their system maintains the right amount of electrolytes.

If your dog ends up having an allergic reaction due to the saponins, these fluids may be combined with an antihistamine to treat the reaction.

Flushing out the sap

When you bring your dog to the vet, the first thing they will do is wash your dog’s coat, eyes, face and skin in order to get rid of any residual sap. They may also repeatedly flush out the sap in your dog’s eyes and mouth in order to get rid of the saponins entirely.

Surgery

If the saponins have already caused the stomach and intestines in your dog to twist, your vet will immediately perform surgery, as this is considered a medical emergency.

Observation

It is not uncommon for vets to keep your dog in overnight for a few days to observe them, even if their symptoms appear to have diminished. This is done in order to take bloodwork to track your dog’s progression as well as being able to monitor the function of systems like their kidneys.

Other plants that are poisonous to dogs

Other plants that also contain saponins and are similarly poisonous to dogs include the following:

  • Daisies
  • Soapwort
  • Broomweed
  • Christmas rose
  • Corn cockle
  • Asparagus fern
  • Cow cockle
  • Horse chestnut trees

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and is intended as guidance only.

Plants that aren’t toxic to dogs

If you want to keep your garden looking beautiful, there are many non-toxic alternative plants that you can use that look great whilst giving you some peace of mind. Here are some examples:

  • Camellias
  • Calendula
  • Snapdragons
  • Honeysuckle
  • Michaelmas daisies
  • Impaitens
  • Rose
  • Lavender
  • Sunflowers
  • Elaeagnus
  • Cornflower

Conclusion

When it comes to Hosta flowers, you must proceed with extreme caution if you want your dog to remain safe. If you want to keep them in your garden, you need to make sure they are fenced off or otherwise inaccessible to your dog.

Alternatively, you can remove the flowers entirely to stay extra safe.

Either way, I hope this article was helpful and that your pup can continue to play safely!

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There are lots of hidden dangers in your garden which can be potentially harmful to your dog. Here’s a selection of what you need to look out for, or not as the case might be:

Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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