Is Hibiscus Poisonous to Dogs? Toxic Species and Treatment


Is Hibiscus Poisonous to Dogs

Hibiscus poisoning in dogs is definitely a concerned subject. What happens if your dog eats hibiscus? Is hibiscus poisonous to dogs?

Species like the Chinese hibiscus and rose mallow are not poisonous for your dog to eat, while others like the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) can be toxic to your dog. Generally, the root of the hibiscus flower can be harmful to your dog.

How can you tell which specific species your dog can eat? What are the symptoms of hibiscus poisoning in your dog? What should you do if your dog eats hibiscus? Ride on to learn authoritative answers to these questions and many more.

How Toxic is Hibiscus to Dogs?

On its own, the plant is constituted of asparagine, a crystalline amino acid that causes gastrointestinal upsets in your dog, which shows in diarrhea and vomiting.

The extent of toxicity is determined by which parts of the hibiscus plant your dog ingested. In some species, the toxicity is significantly reduced in the leaves, flowers, and stem parts.

In others, these parts are yet poisonous to your dog. Generally, the root of the hibiscus plant has a significant concentration of toxicity.

The severity of the toxicity also depends on the quantity of hibiscus plant your dog ate. In more critical cases of hibiscus poisoning, you could see blood in your dog’s stool or vomit.

If such hibiscus poisoning is not remedied promptly, sustained diarrhea and vomiting can result in substantial loss of fluids, leading to your dog’s death.

Which Hibiscus Species are Toxic to Dogs?

There are about 679 species of hibiscus flowers, each with varying toxicity on your dog. The most prevalent hibiscus species include Chinese Hibiscus, Rose of Sharon, and Luna Rose.

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is the most common hibiscus species that is toxic to dogs. A hardy hibiscus, Rose of Sharon grows in the 5-8 range in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones. We will learn more about it later in this guide.

Symptoms of Hibiscus Poisoning in Dogs

Depending on the hibiscus plant species that the dog ate (and which plant part) it ate, the symptoms of hibiscus poisoning can be severe or mild.

The generality of the symptoms is most times gastrointestinal. This is because of the dog guts reacting to the asparagine in the hibiscus plant.

Some of the prevalent symptoms you would notice in your dog include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • A burning throat
  • A loss of appetite
  • Blisters covering the mouth and tongue, making it difficult for the dog to swallow
  • Nausea and coughing
  • Cornea damage in the case of dog’s eye touching the hibiscus plant

Should you notice these symptoms, the best resort is to immediately take your dog to a vet for a quick medical examination.

Is Chinese Hibiscus Poisonous to Dogs?

The Chinese hibiscus – otherwise known as the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – is not poisonous. The Chinese hibiscus belongs to the tropical variant, as it thrives in subtropical and tropic areas.

In these areas, this hibiscus is mostly cultivated as an ornamental plant. This hibiscus grows in the USDA zones of 9-11.

To better identify this hibiscus, it comes as an evergreen shrub with a height range of 8–16 ft and a 5–10 ft width. Its leaves are conspicuously glossy, wide, and separate. Its flowers are brightly colored in red in autumn and summer.

Is Hibiscus Sabdariffa Toxic to Dogs?

The Hibiscus sabdariffa is more commonly known as Roselle. It is suspected to be native to South East Asia, East, and West Africa.

Hibiscus sabdariffa is not toxic to dogs. But how can you tell whether that hibiscus your dog is about to gobble is the Hibiscus sabdariffa species?

Roselle has a height range of 7–8 ft. Its leaves appear in a long alternate arrangement on its stem, in packs of 3-5 lobes

The leaves’ length is anywhere from 3–6 in. For the flowers, the colors range from fading yellow to white, with the petals’ base commonly adorned with dark red freckles.

Is Hibiscus Syriacus Poisonous to Dogs?

Hibiscus syriacus is famously known as the Rose of China. It is one of the most common hibiscus species found around these days, albeit native to southeast and south-central China.

Its flowers are shaped in extended trumpets, with their colors ranging from purple to pink. The stamens come in a pronounced white, with the tip being yellow. This hibiscus can get as tall as 12 feet, with the stem getting as long as 1.5 feet.

The Hibiscus syriacus is toxic to dogs. Should your dog eat the Hibiscus syriacus, it could experience discomfiting gastrointestinal upsets. Depending on severe the toxicity is, the troubles tend to fade off within 12 hours and maximum within a day.

Fatality from the ingestion of Rose of China is rare. Like the general symptoms of hibiscus poisoning, your dog could experience loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. More symptoms specific to poisoning from this species include excessive drooling and even abdominal discomfort.

The symptoms mentioned here are typical of cases of mild poisoning. There could be severe poisoning cases with symptoms like sunken eyes in your dog, tremors when the dog stands, unexplained tiredness, and loss of skin elasticity.

Is Hollywood Hibiscus Poisonous to Dogs?

Hollywood Hibiscus is an innovative collection of tropical hibiscus introduced by J.Berry. Being a tropical hibiscus species, it is not poisonous to your dogs.

Its flowers are more durable with impressive bloom counts. Their bloom colors vary from vivid golden to clear yellow to pink and orange.

How is Hibiscus Poisoning Treated in Dogs?

If your dog is displayed the said symptoms of hibiscus poisoning – especially when you have got a hibiscus plant around – you should immediately take your dog to the vet. It is not advisable to try out home remedies in this situation.

Indeed, it would be helpful if you take along a sample of the hibiscus plant you suspect your dog has eaten to the appointment with the vet. This should help your vet better ascertain how severely – or mildly – the toxicity could be.

To accurately analyze the extent of damage done by such hibiscus ingestion, the vet could carry out tests on your dog’s blood along with a detailed physical inspection.

The latter inspection could include your vet checking the dog’s temperature, breathing sounds, body weight, pulse, blood pressure, and the conditions of its coat and skin.

Aside from your dog’s blood, the specialist could have to examine your dog’s feces and urine. This would help the vet determine if parasites or infections – instead of hibiscus poisoning – are responsible for the noticed symptoms.

In most cases, when examined by the microscope, pieces of the hibiscus plant could be present in the dog’s stool if really hibiscus poisoning is the cause.

Also, if you can, provide the vet with your dog’s medical records. Such provision is essential if your dog has been on some medications due to any recent ailment.

If your vet confirms your dog is experiencing hibiscus poisoning, the next four steps will be necessary in the following order: evacuation, detoxification, medication, and observation.

Starting with Evacuation

The vet could have to start with clearing your dog’s stomach. This is achievable by induced vomiting. Beforehand, your vet would have to administer peroxide solution to your dog.

This could be followed by oral administration of activated charcoal. The latter therapy is to absorb the left fraction of the toxicity from the eaten hibiscus.

Next is Detoxification Proper

Detoxification, in this instance, involves extensively flushing your dog’s kidneys. Intravenous fluids could be deployed here, especially as the vet has to prevent your dog from getting dehydrated due to diarrhea and vomiting.

It is Time for the Medication

After evacuation and detoxifying your dog, you can roll in the drugs. Medication is necessary when your dog suffered external burns (admittedly rare). Commonly, the vet applies lotion, with these being followed by a thrice daily application of that lotion when you take your dog home.

If the dog experienced internal blisters – predominantly in the throat – your vet might have to give your dog a cortisone injection.

Lastly is Keeping Your Dog Under Watch

After the preceding three phases of treatment, you have to carefully observe your dog and see how it reacts to the treatment. You would have to choose between leaving your dog with the vet for a while or bringing your home. Should you opt to take your dog, ensure you diligently collaborate with the vet on how well the symptoms are subsiding.

Why Do Dogs Eat Hibiscus Flowers?

Being deciduous shrubs, hibiscus plants are pretty conspicuous. Add this to their charming trumpet-shaped flowers and colorful leaves, and you see a plant that attracts at first sight.

Dogs don’t have the greatest discernment powers and could readily mistake the hibiscus flower for a snack. Too bad, your dog, by its very nature, happens to be a curious being.

This means it would be itching to check out the hibiscus flower in the yard. Even after sniffing it, your dog’s curious nature could push it into eating the hibiscus flower.

Given how the vast gamut of hibiscus flowers – some toxic and others non-toxic – are, the best wisdom would be keeping hibiscus plants off your garden or away from your dog. This way, you will significantly reduce the risk of hibiscus poisoning. 

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