Dogs are naturally very curious creatures and will investigate their world with their eyes, noses, and particularly their mouth! Unfortunately, this means that they often end up chewing or swallowing lots of different things that they probably shouldn’t! But what happens when your dog eats roses? Are they toxic to our canine companions?
If your dog just ate roses, you are likely concerned. Not only about the potential toxicity of the flower but the potential harm that could befall your pup from their thorns. The good news is that roses join dandelions and petunias as predominantly non-toxic to dogs.
Let’s explore what to do when Fido devours some of your rose bushes in the garden. We examine what to watch for and when it’s important that you make a phone call to your veterinarian. Let’s jump in.
Are Roses Poisonous Or Toxic To Dogs?
The good news is true roses of the botanical name Rosa, including their flowers, petals, and rose hips, are not toxic to dogs and cats or to people. If eaten in large quantities, these types of plants can cause an upset tummy for a day or two, but only because the gut is not used to digesting a lot of plant matter.
The red rosehip also contains seeds coated in short hairs, which can also be irritant to your dog’s gut, causing vomiting. However, the flesh of the hip is edible and was collected during WWII as an important local source of Vitamin C when other fruits were scarce.
There are other plants with names that sound like ‘rose’, which can be poisonous. The ‘Rose of Sharon’ refers to St John’s Wort (Hypericum) which is harmful if eaten in quantity, or to a hibiscus plant, which is mildly toxic to dogs. Rose Periwinkle (Catharanthus) is also harmful if eaten in high quantities. Peony plants, whose flowers look a lot like roses, are thought to be toxic to dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
You should also bear in mind that gardeners regularly treat roses with insecticides (insect-killing chemicals) and fungicides (fungus-killing chemicals), and fertilizers, all of which can be toxic to dogs if eaten.
The real danger is that roses are typically covered in thorns, and this can cause physical damage or trauma to the soft tissues of the mouth, lips, and throat if your dog decides to have a snack.
My Dog Ate My Roses. What Should I Do?
If Fido got into the rose bushes, there are several steps you’ll want to take to assess any potential harm that was caused. Follow the basic steps below to ensure that you minimize any potential illnesses, injuries, or wounds.
Step #1: Remove The Roses
Lock Fido in their crate, and get them into a secure location as soon as possible. This will stop them from eating anymore and make the problem worse. Clean up and remove any roses that may have been left behind after the event occurred.
Step #2: Assess What Was Eaten
You’ll want to identify what was consumed as precisely as possible. How much rose has been eaten? Are the roses particularly spikey or thorny? Do you know if they have been recently treated with garden chemicals? Make a note of roughly what time your dog ate them too.
Step #3: Observe For Injuries Or Illness
Is Fido bleeding, particularly from the mouth? Is your dog in distress or discomfort? Are there any signs or symptoms of abdominal distress or irritation? Please take care at this point, as your dog may be uncomfortable. Don’t look inside your dog’s mouth unless it is safe to do so.
Step #4: Contact Your Veterinarian
If you are concerned or notice any worrying symptoms, then it is worth contacting your local veterinary clinic for advice as soon as possible. It’s often worth calling your vet just for peace of mind, even if you don’t see any potential symptoms of discomfort or illness.
Step #5: Follow Your Vet’s Advice
Follow the advice of your veterinarian. They will likely ask questions about how your pup is now, their age and size, and exactly what was eaten. The veterinarian may recommend a check-up and examination, which is vital if there is any damage to your pup’s mouth.
What Happens If A Dog Eats A Rose?
Large quantities of rose can cause mild tummy upsets (vomiting and diarrhea), but typically these will be very short-lived over a day or two. This should not require any specific treatment.
The biggest risk is the thorns rip and tear their body. The eyes and mouth are the most vulnerable. Thorns are very sharp and can also break off and become stuck in the skin or inside the mouth. If this happens, you will see wounds on the body which might be bleeding.
Dogs are usually in distress and rubbing or licking the painful areas. Dogs may hold their eyes closed if their eyes have been damaged. If the wounds are in the mouth, you may notice pawing at the mouth, distress, drooling, and bleeding.
Small Wounds Caused By Roses
If the wounds are very small and minor, it is reasonable to manage them at home. Just like wounds on people, it is important to ensure they are clean and dry. Dogs love to lick wounds, which always makes them worse, so you may need to stop your dog from accessing them by using an Elizabethan collar (aka “cone of shame”) for a few days. If they aren’t healing well, it is best to get them checked by a veterinarian.
Worrying Wounds Caused By Roses
If you can’t assess the wounds, they appear to be severe, or your dog is in distress, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. Mouth trauma can especially bleed a lot and may also involve the top of the food pipe (esophagus) and always needs professional assessment by a veterinarian.
Damage to the back of the throat and esophagus is not uncommon, and as a veterinarian, I have certainly had to remove thorns and plant matter that is stuck there! This is usually done under sedation or anesthesia as obviously it is a fiddly location, and it is painful. The mouth does tend to bleed a lot, but fortunately, with prompt treatment, most of these cases are manageable with good outcomes.
In rare cases, dogs have died from blood loss from severe mouth wounds, especially involving the tongue. A speedy check from a veterinarian can help to stop this from happening.
It is also vital to get your dog checked if there is damage to the eyes. Eyes are extremely sensitive and require a veterinary assessment to ensure there is no deep trauma. Eye problems left untreated can easily result in loss of sight and even loss of the eye.
In my experience in practice, it is certainly common to see dogs with sore eyes after they have been poking around in bushes like roses. Dogs do love to stick their noses into things, and sadly this can sometimes damage their eyes in the process. Some eye wounds do not become obvious immediately – it can take a few hours for pain and discomfort to appear. Eye trauma can change rapidly, so early assessment and treatment is important. As a veterinarian, I regularly see scratches and cuts to the surface of the eye (called ‘corneal ulcers’), which are painful and need appropriate treatment to heal. Most cases heal well with eye drops, but severe wounds might need to be surgically stitched.
Obviously, wounds are painful. This means that veterinarians will usually recommend either sedation or a general anesthetic to allow them to assess your dog’s damage properly. This is especially true in the mouth. It is impossible to fully check the whole of a dog’s mouth and throat when conscious.
The veterinary team can act to stop any severe bleeding, clip and clean the wounds and close them (with stitches or staples) where required. Again, the sooner this is done by a professional, the better. Dogs are usually sent home with pain relief and sometimes with antibiotics for nasty wounds.
Garden chemicals on the roses can cause a variety of issues that depend heavily on the type of chemical and how much is eaten. Usually, small amounts will just cause a tummy upset, but you should contact your veterinary clinic for specific advice if you have a concern.
Will My Dog Be Okay?
Most dogs will not be affected by eating rose bushes and will never be particularly unwell. Mild tummy upsets will only last a day or two, and again, most dogs will make a full and uneventful recovery. Mild wounds should also heal quickly and without problems. Most dogs will generally recover just fine from eating roses, and roses are classed as pet-safe.
If Fido has severe wounds, particularly wounds to the mouth or eyes, these can have more variable outcomes. With quick and decisive action and professional veterinary help, most dogs will do well and recover, but this may take longer and can leave them with long-term problems.
Rose Bush Chewing Prevention
When your dog takes an interest in rose bushes, it is worth looking at good training and behavioral changes to reduce the risk. If possible, when adding roses to your garden, try and get thornless or less spikey varieties. If your roses have the potential to do harm, then it may be worth trying to fence them off.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are roses pet-safe?
Typically, all parts of the rose and rose bush are pet safe. Just be aware of how spikey the roses are and any chemicals you use on them.
What if my dog ate roses?
Roses can cause physical damage to your dog, and severe wounds need to be assessed by a veterinarian, especially if they are in the mouth or the eyes.
Should I be concerned about rose thorns?
If Fido enjoys poking around your roses in the garden or on walks, then yes. Dogs that lick thorns, or eat the stem of a rose, may suffer from small puncture wounds that will need to heal over time. They can cause problems if a dog swallows them.
Why does my dog eat plants?
Dogs are very curious and will often explore their world using their noses and mouths. Dogs also enjoy chewing on different objects. As such, this can make rose plants a risk in the garden.
True roses, rose bushes, petals, hips, and leaves are not particularly poisonous or toxic to dogs and cats. However, they may be covered with garden chemicals which can be a problem. The thorns can also cause a range of damage to a canine’s body.
Wounds to the mouth and eyes are most serious and need veterinary attention, but most dogs will make a full recovery with proper treatment. If you are concerned, it is vital to seek professional veterinary help at an early stage.