Reviewed By Joana Garrido DVM
If you’re a dog owner with a green thumb, you might be wondering if geraniums are safe for your pup. While not all types of geraniums are poisonous to dogs, it’s crucial to identify the toxic varieties to protect your canine companion from potential health issues like vomiting and diarrhea. Let’s explore more about geraniums and dogs.
What Is Geranium Poisoning?
Geranium poisoning is a type of toxicity caused by eating scented geraniums.
Avoid confusing this species of geranium for the nontoxic one called the cranesbill geranium. Although both come from the same family called Geraniaceae, they are different genera of plants.
Scented geraniums are categorized under the Pelargonium genus, while cranesbill geraniums belong to the Geranium genus.
You can tell them apart by looking at the shape of their flowers. Geranium plants sport 5 identical petals. In comparison, Pelagorium plants possess asymmetrical flowers, with the upper petals larger than the lower ones.
The Pelargonium genus has more than 200 species of plants and over 1,000 cultivars. They are all considered potentially toxic to dogs.
Causes of Geranium Poisoning in Dogs
Scented geraniums have 2 primary compounds that can cause poisoning in dogs:
It is a kind of terpene alcohol, which is a stomach and skin irritant. Inhaling this chemical may result in toxicity.
Similar to geraniol, linalool is a terpene alcohol that can cause stomach discomfort and skin rashes. It is also known to cause abnormalities in heart function.
Know that essential oils derived from scented geraniums are highly toxic to dogs because they contain heavy concentrations of geraniol and linalool.
Furthermore, the scented geranium essential oil is commonly used as an ingredient in many human products, from cosmetics to food. They can be found in perfumes, insect repellents, shampoos, jams, and jellies.
Which Parts of Geraniums Are Toxic to Dogs?
All parts of scented geraniums are toxic to dogs, including their flowers, stems, and roots.
We often come across the question: “Are geranium leaves poisonous to dogs? Yes, Geranium leaves of the Pelargonium genus are poisonous to dogs, so make sure that your furry pal does not ingest or come into contact with them.
How Toxic Are Geraniums to Dogs?
Scented geraniums are mildly toxic to dogs, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. These plants only produce small quantities of poisonous chemicals. Hence, they rarely cause life-threatening side effects unless ingested in large amounts.
However, keep in mind that this is not the case for scented geranium essential oil. It is extremely potent because it contains high levels of volatile oils. Exposure to a small dose of essential oil can be poisonous enough to result in a fatality.
Symptoms of Geranium Poisoning in Dogs
When swallowed, the geraniol and linalool in scented geraniums interact with the stomach acids, leading to gastric issues such as:
- Loss of appetite
Depression, slow heart rate, and low blood pressure may occur if your dog ingested the plant in large amounts. Skin contact causes itchy and painful rashes as well as reddened skin.
Deadly aspiration may take place if dogs accidentally breathed in their vomit when experiencing geranium poisoning.
What to Do If a Dog Eats Geranium?
Contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control and inform them about your dog’s interaction with geranium.
To gauge the severity of the situation, they will typically inquire about:
- Your dog’s size and weight
- The species of geranium eaten
- The parts and amount consumed
- The time of ingestion
- Visible toxicity symptoms
Stomach upset due to mild geranium poisoning often does not warrant a trip to the vet. The gastric issues tend to go away within a day or two.
In most cases, dog owners are advised to temporarily switch their dogs to a bland diet so their digestive tract can rest.
Skin rashes caused by the plant disappear within a few days too. Just make sure to wash the affected area with a dog-safe shampoo and warm water. It will rinse the toxic chemicals off of his fur and skin.
If your dog displays severe symptoms of geranium poisoning, he should be sent to the vet immediately. Do the same if he has ingested geranium essential oil.
Diagnosis of Geranium Poisoning in Dogs
A physical examination will be conducted to check the status of your dog’s respiratory and cardiac system as well as his blood pressure and body temperature.
The vet will also carry out other tests to provide an accurate diagnosis such as:
- Echocardiography (ECHO): It helps determine the stability of your furry pal’s electrical and muscular heart functions.
- Endoscopy: It provides a view of your dog’s gastric tract to check for undigested plant matter.
- Fecal and urine examination: It checks for ingested plant particles and other potential poisoning causes.
Treatment of Geranium Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment will start by administering an emetic to induce vomiting in poisoned dogs. This process helps in removing any plant matter from their stomachs.
Activated charcoal will also be given to keep the harmful toxins of the scented geranium from getting absorbed into the bloodstream.
IV fluid therapy is done afterward to prevent dehydration and decontaminate the body from toxins at the same time.
The vet will prescribe medication according to your dog’s toxicity symptoms. Anti-emetics drugs are used to alleviate vomiting, anti-acids for stomach upset, and topical ointments with anti-inflammatories for skin dermatitis.
Prognosis of Geranium Poisoning in Dogs
Most cases of geranium poisoning in dogs are not life-threatening. Most dogs can make a full recovery after a few days of hospitalization.
However, the prognosis is less positive for severe toxicity caused by exposure to geranium essential oil or ingesting excessive quantities of the plant.
10 Nontoxic Plants for Dogs
Instead of growing scented geraniums in your home or garden, here are dog-safe flowers that you can replace them with:
- Bromeliad (Bromeliaceae)
- Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- Camellia (Camellia spp.)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- Gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa)
- Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)
- Radiator plant (Peperomia spp.)
- Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)
- Venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula)
- Zebra haworthia (Haworthiopsis attenuata)
Keep in mind that even nontoxic plants for dogs can cause stomach upset when ingested. The digestive systems of canines have a hard time breaking down plant matter.
So make sure to keep these plants out of your dog’s reach. If possible, place them in elevated spaces indoors or keep them securely fenced outside.
FAQs About Geranium Poisoning in Dogs
1. Is the Geranium Dog-Friendly?
The geraniums belonging to the Geranium genus are dog-friendly. Avoid geranium plants classified under the Pelargonium genus as they are toxic to canines.
2. What Happens If a Dog Eats Geranium?
Mild stomach upset may happen if your dog eats scented geranium in small amounts. Large doses can lead to decreased heart rate, low blood pressure, and depression.
3. Can Geraniums Cause Seizures in Dogs?
There are no reports of geraniums causing seizures in dogs so far. Its common side effects are digestive discomfort, skin irritation, and in rare cases, heart issues.
4. Can Geraniums Kill Dogs?
It is unlikely that scented geranium plants can kill dogs due to their mild toxicity. However, delayed treatment may increase the risk of life-threatening dehydration.
Poisoning caused by scented geranium essential oil is more potent. In this case, fatality is highly possible.
It is crucial to keep your pup safe by being aware of which types of geraniums are toxic and potentially harmful to their health. Always supervise your dog and keep poisonous plants out of reach.
Check out our Plants section, which will help you weed out dangerous plants for your pooch in your home and garden.