Nothing seems to brighten up the garden or home quite like a bunch of tulips, and their vivid colours and elegant shape are synonymous with spring. Since they are very pup-ular flowers indoors and out, it means that your pets will probably come into contact with these plants at some point. But is there any risk to your furry friends through exposure to this flower, and are tulips poisonous to dogs?
No, tulips are not typically dog-friendly. While these gorgeous blooms might catch our eye with their bright colours and structure, tulips are toxic for dogs. There are chemicals inside the plant that can cause skin irritation, hurt their mouth and throat, as well as poison them and cause gastrointestinal upset.
Poisoning can also interfere with your dog’s nervous system, making it difficult for them to move and in severe cases, they can even have trouble breathing.
If your dog doesn’t seem interested in flowers or foraging, then they might be paw-fectly fine with tulips around. But it’s usually better to be safe than sorry and make sure all tulips are fenced off or planted out of reach of inquisitive snouts.
Yes, tulips are poisonous to dogs. These beautiful blooms are actually toxic to most animals, including humans, dogs, cats, and horses, so if you have any pets it is im-paw-tent to keep them safe and away from any tulips inside your home or in the garden. Because tulip bulbs can be confused with onions, you should keep them away from the kitchen and out the way of any human or hound that could mistakenly try to eat one.
Cut tulips in the house are a paw-tential problem for a curious canine, so you should keep all vases of flowers out of reach. Even the water left behind in the vase will contain toxic compounds because they leach out the plant and into the water.
Tulips that are grown in the garden usually pose a bigger risk. Not only can a pooch nibble the flowers and leaves, but they might decide to dig up a bulb. Tulip bulbs are especially toxic and eating just a small amount, as little as a teaspoon, can cause severe sickness in your dog.
Tulips are poisonous to dogs because they contain two toxic alkaloid compounds called Tulipalin A and Tulipalin B. These are naturally occurring glycosides found in all parts of the plant, but the highest concentration is in the bulb. Glycosides become toxic during digestion as the body breaks down the sugar molecules within them, changing their reactivity.
These compounds are not only dangerous because they are toxic, but they are caustic too. That means they are corrosive and will cause irritation and burning to any tissue that they come into contact with, so your pup’s mouth and throat might become swollen and sore after eating tulips.
As well as glycosides within the bulb, a chemical called Tuliposide can be found on the plant and bulb. When you handle a tulip, this chemical enters the skin and is converted to Tulipan, which then causes a chemical reaction which irritates the skin. This is what causes “tulip fingers” for florists who handle these flowers a lot, and it causes itchy, red fingertips not too dissimilar to an allergic reaction. Repeated exposure will worsen the irritation.
Obviously, dogs don’t have hands, but they do hold and carry things in their mouth. So it’s likely that your pooch will have irritation and itching on their lips and in their mouths if they carry or eat any tulips.
Tulip poisoning isn’t usually lethal, no. However, there is a small risk that a very small dog, a young puppy, or a dog that eats a whole bulb could face severe symptoms and complications that could endanger their life.
All parts of a tulip plant are toxic to dogs, from root to leaf, stalk, and flower.
The bulbs are especially poisonous because it has a higher concentration of the plant’s naturally occurring chemicals, including the toxic Tulipalin. Because the bulb contains more toxins, it only takes a dog to eat a very small amount before they become ill. Severe cases of tulip poisoning are much more common if a dog has eaten a tulip bulb rather than flowers or leaves.
Severe cases of tulip poisoning in dogs cause more dramatic symptoms such as heart problems and difficulty breathing. These cases of tulip poisoning usually involve a small breed of dog or puppies because they can tolerate smaller amounts of toxin. Otherwise, any pooch that has eaten a whole bulb or a lot of tulip leaves and flowers is at greater risk.
Abdominal pain & discomfort
Abnormal heart rate
Not only are tulips poisonous to dogs, but they can cause skin irritation too.
Tulip bulbs could irritate your dog’s lips, mouth and tongue, and may cause swelling. If your dog is showing signs of discomfort such as face rubbing and pawing at their muzzle, they could have eaten a tulip bulb or something else which has pup-set their mouth. They may have redness, blistering, and inflammation in their mouth and throat.
The chemicals in tulips could also cause contact dermatitis. As I mentioned above, humans can develop a condition called “tulip fingers” if they handle these plants, and similarly, your dog may be affected and may develop inflamed, irritated skin if they come into contact with tulips.
Pawing at their face
Chewing their paws
Inflamed, red skin
Saliva and tear stains
Thickening or darkening skin
Your dog’s treatment will vary depending on when they ate the tulip and how serious their reaction has been. There is no antidote for tulip poisoning so any care your vet provides will be to try and limit the number of toxins in your dog’s body to reduce the severity of their symptoms. They will also give your pooch treatment to support their recovery. You should always call your vet for advice as soon as you suspect or know that your dog has eaten a tulip.
In cases of mild poisoning, your vet may advise you to supervise your dog to see if symptoms occur. Mild cases of tulip poisoning result in gastric upset which should pass within a few hours. However, if your pooch’s symptoms persist, they’ll need to visit the vet.
Depending on your dog and their risk, your vet may advise you to come to the practice as soon as possible for treatment. If your dog has recently eaten the tulip, your vet might induce vomiting to remove any remnants of the plant from your pup’s stomach and prevent the Tulipalin moving further into their digestive system and being absorbed into their body.
Your pooch could be given activated charcoal which will bind with the toxins, stopping them from entering the dog’s bloodstream. Otherwise, the vet may decide to place your dog under anaesthetic if it is safe to do so and perform gastric lavage (stomach pump) to remove any remaining tulip from their stomach.
Your vet will then provide supportive treatment to aid your dog with recovery. Your pooch will probably be given intravenous fluids to combat dehydration and to help flush toxins from the liver and kidneys. They might be given electrolytes too, to help restore balance to their blood acidity and to help maintain their muscle and nerve function. If your pup has had difficulty breathing, they may be placed on oxygen for a few hours.
Once you take your pooch home, it’s important to let them rest so give them space and some peace and quiet. If your dog had to be put under anaesthetic, they might seem disoriented and have trouble moving until it wears off. Just keep a close eye on them and let them rest.
Many of the plants we humans like to decorate our houses and homes with have the paw-tential to make our pets ill. Many of our favourite plants are toxic to dogs, from house plants like peace lilies and umbrella trees to pup-ular garden inhabitants like tulips, daffodils, lilies, and hyacinths. Even common plants you might encounter on a walk might be toxic to your dog, like oaks and acorns, horse chestnuts and conkers, and ivy.
If you’ve bought some new greenery, you can check here to see if your plant is toxic to dogs.