Are daffodils poisonous to dogs?

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Written by Dr Andrew Miller MRCVSDr Andrew Miller MRCVS is an expert veterinary working in the field for over 10 years after graduating from Bristol University. Andy fact checks and writes for Pure Pet Food while also working as a full time veterinarian. Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. - Our editorial process

Daffodils are a favourite flower in our gardens. Their bright sunshiney heads signal the start of spring and add a burst of bright colour to our yards. But if your dog is as nosy as mine, they’ve probably tried “helping” you to plant your flowers or perhaps even dug up a bulb themselves and tossed it around the garden. But is there any hidden dangers lurking in our flowerbeds?

If you’ve caught your dog snacking on flowers and leaves, you might be understandably worried about the potential risks of illness to your furry friend because many plants are poisonous to dogs, such as another common flower, tulips. But are daffodils poisonous to dogs, and will your furry friend be in any danger if they decide to nibble a flower?

Can dogs eat daffodils?

No, dogs should not eat daffodils. If your dog eats daffodils it can cause serious sickness, and in most cases, your dog will suffer from severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Just like with many common plants in our homes and gardens, they aren’t a suitable snack for our furry friends. In fact, daffodils are actually considered toxic to both dogs and cats.

It's not only the spring daffodils that pose a danger in this joyful season either, so check out our top tips for keeping your dog safe in the spring here.

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If you have seen your dog eat a daffodil, or you think they might have munched on a bulb, you need to contact your vet for advice.

Are daffodils poisonous to dogs?

Yes, daffodils are toxic to dogs. As mentioned above, eating daffodils can make your dog seriously sick. Usually, the resulting sickness is gastrointestinal and you’ll find your dog might suffer from vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.

In the most severe cases of daffodil poisoning, your pooch might suffer from arrhythmias. An arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rate and is a sign that their heart is beating too fast or too slow.

Your pup will also be at risk of developing respiratory depression, also known as hypoventilation, and you might notice their breathing has become very slow or very shallow. During hypoventilation, your dog’s lungs stop trading oxygen and carbon dioxide properly which leads to a buildup of carbon dioxide in their body and can put them at risk of further illness.

Why are daffodils poisonous to dogs?

Most plants in the Amaryllidaceae family, including daffodils, narcissus, and snowdrops, contain a naturally occurring alkaloid crystal called lycorine throughout the plant. This crystal is toxic when eaten and is poisonous to a number of animals, including humans, horses, cats, and dogs. Lycorine will cause gastrointestinal issues when eaten, even for humans, but for dogs and cats, it can also cause cardiac and respiratory issues and put their lives at risk.

Daffodils also contain calcium oxalate crystals, which aren’t necessarily poisonous but can cause severe pain to any pet that eats daffodils. Calcium oxalate crystals are common in some plants, including peace lilies. These crystals are needle-sharp and cause burning sensations if they are eaten. If your dog gets a mouthful of them, it won’t just be painful but the inside of their mouth, their tongue, and their lips will probably become very swollen and inflamed. Plus, if the crystals come into contact with their skin it can cause dermatitis.

What parts of a daffodil are toxic to dogs?

All parts of a daffodil are toxic to dogs, including the bulb, leaves, stem, and flower. Although every part of the plant is toxic, the bulb is significantly more dangerous because it has a higher concentration of lycorine and so poisoning can occur after eating a much smaller amount.

The dust that comes on daffodil bulbs is also toxic to dogs, and inhaling this dust can have a serious impact on their health and lungs because it damages the mucous membranes in their respiratory tract.

It isn’t just the plant and bulbs that you need to keep an eye out for. If you’ve had cut daffodils in a vase in your house, the water left behind in the vase is enough to be poisonous to your cat or dog. If you decide to display a bunch of daffodils inside your home, keep them out of reach of your pets. You should also put them into a tall vase if you can, so any curious creature can’t reach the water with their tongue if they decide to try and lap it up.

Are dogs allergic to daffodils?

No, but daffodils do cause gastrointestinal illness if eaten, and they can cause skin problems too if the calcium oxalate crystals come into contact with your pup’s skin. The symptoms and reactions from this could lead some people to mistakenly believe it is an allergy. Daffodils are poisonous so if your dog shows any symptoms of illness, or if you have seen them eat any of the plant, you need to contact your vet promptly for advice.

Can daffodils kill dogs?

It is uncommon, but yes, eating daffodils can kill dogs. Your dog is at higher risk if they have eaten the bulb of the plant as this contains a higher concentration of toxins. However, eating a significant amount of any part of the plant, even the leaves, can lead to serious illness and may risk their life.

The LD50 for daffodils is 15g for dogs. This means that 15g of daffodil is a lethal dose for 50% of dogs that ingest that amount. That’s roughly one tablespoon, so it really isn’t a lot.

As with many toxic substances, small dogs are at a much higher risk because it takes a much smaller dose to cause them illness. Larger dogs with greater body mass can usually tolerate slightly bigger doses, but it’s still dangerous for them.

What happens if my dog eats a daffodil?

If you see your dog eat a daffodil, you need to contact your vet as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure but suspect that they have eaten one, you should still call for advice and keep an eye out for any signs of illness in your pooch.

Symptoms of daffodil poisoning in dogs

The symptoms of daffodil poisoning in dogs are:

● Vomiting

● Diarrhoea

● Excessive drooling

● Drowsiness

● Abdominal pain

● Tremors

● Seizures

● Difficulty breathing (Particularly laboured breathing)

● Abnormal heart rate

● Low blood pressure

However, eating daffodils plants and bulbs isn’t the only way your pooch can become ill. All it takes to cause sickness is to inhale the dust from the bulbs, or for the plant and bulb to come into direct contact with their skin. In either of these situations, there are different problems and symptoms to look out for.

If your dog has inhaled the dust from daffodil bulbs, symptoms may be:

● Coughing

● Difficulty breathing (wheezing, shortness of breath)

● Spasms

Finally, if your pooch has come into contact with the bulbs you might see a reaction on their skin. Symptoms of topical exposure are:

● Itchy skin

● Red skin

● Inflammation

● Rashes or blistering

Symptoms of daffodil poisoning can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to twenty-four hours to appear. If your dog has eaten a daffodil, they will most likely be taken in by the vet for supportive treatment so that they stand the best chance of recovery.

Treatment for daffodil poisoning

There is no antidote for daffodil poisoning, which means that all treatment that your pooch gets will be to try and limit the amount of toxins that they absorb and to help support them as they recover. How your vet treats your dog will also depend on whether they have eaten daffodils, breathed in the dust from the bulbs, or suffered contact dermatitis caused by the calcium oxalates.

If your dog has eaten daffodils, your vet will first try and limit the amount of lycorine that your pup absorbs. They may induce vomiting, feed your pet activated charcoal, or use gastric lavage to do this.

Vomiting will help remove any bits of plant or bulb still in your dog’s stomach while gastric lavage, which you might know as stomach pumping, will wash their stomach out. Meanwhile, activated charcoal helps by binding with toxins in their system to stop them from being absorbed into the body.

After steps have been taken to limit the number of toxins in your dog’s body, treatment will be given to help support them while they recover. This will involve intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated and to help the liver and kidneys filter toxins from their body. Your dog might require further observation and treatment for up to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, if your pup has inhaled the dust, they will likely need to be put on oxygen for several hours or even an entire day.

Finally, if your pup has had topical exposure to the plants, the vet will give them a bath with medicated shampoo and creams to help soothe the skin and reduce inflammation to prevent itching. The creams will probably include an antibiotic too, to help prevent any infection.