Are Rose Bushes or Petals Poisonous to Dogs?

Written By: Gemma Johnstone | Last Updated:

A large rose field

Should you keep your dog away from a Valentine’s Day bouquet of roses? And are rose bushes potentially toxic to your pet? Read on to find out whether roses are poisonous to dogs.  

There are hundreds of rose plant species, and these attractive flowers are often included in floral bouquets and grown ornamentally in gardens.

Thankfully, roses aren’t poisonous to dogs. Eating a small quantity of rose petals or foliage isn’t likely to cause major issues for your pup. Just watch out for those spiky thorns.

Keep reading to find out more about the pros and cons of roses when it comes to our four-legged friends.

Are Roses Poisonous if Eaten by a Dog?

All parts of true rose species are non-toxic to dogs. This means that if your pooch eats a couple of fallen petals or leaves, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

There are some exceptions though, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

On a side note, roses aren’t toxic for cats either. This makes them a popular choice for pet-safe gardens.

The Advice in This Article Only Applies to True Roses

Having the word Rose in a plant’s name doesn’t necessarily mean it’s part of the true rose family. The botanical name should contain Rosa if it’s a true rose.

Care should be taken when selecting new plants for your home or garden to ensure they’re a genuine rose species. Unfortunately, there are several plants that look similar to roses but are actually toxic to dogs.

Are There Any Dangers to Roses?

Thorns can be dangerous to dogs

While roses are non-toxic to dogs, it doesn’t mean they’re completely without risk. Here are a few reasons to be wary of these beautiful plants.

Rose Plants Are Not Healthy for Dogs to Eat

Ingesting a couple of rose leaves or petals probably won’t harm your dog. As with any non-edible plant, however, consuming too much could result in an upset stomach. A dog’s digestive system isn’t adapted to eat roses, after all!

Given roses have a unique aroma and slightly sweet taste, greedy dogs could be tempted to hoover up a lot of petals. They may even accidentally eat them if they are grass eaters and the petals fall onto the lawn. Keep an eye on your dog and don’t allow him to eat lots of rose petals.

If your dog has eaten more than a couple of petals, and they’re showing signs of discomfort, you should contact your vet immediately for advice. Roses aren’t toxic, but they aren’t healthy to eat either.

Thorns Can Be Dangerous

If your dog loves to explore or dig in flower borders, the jagged thorns found on rose bushes could be dangerous.

These thorns can cause surprisingly deep gashes, and your dog’s delicate eye area is at particular risk. Thorns can also get stuck in paw pads, especially if cuttings are left on the ground.

If you’re planning to plant a rose bush in your garden, you may want to choose one of the few species with few or no thorns. The miniature Cinderella Rose, and the Kathleen Harrop, for example, are two spike-free varieties.

You could also minimize the risk by supervising your dog in the garden, blocking access to the bush, and providing more appropriate entertainment activities. Interactive treat toys, a dog-friendly sandbox, or a sensory garden area can all be great options for keeping your pet out of mischief.

Make sure you clear away cuttings after pruning the bush. These dry out and create inflexible thorns, which could be even more painful for your dog to walk on.

If you suspect your dog has trodden on a rose bush stem, check they haven’t damaged their paw. It’s possible for a thorn to get embedded in their pad. The longer it stays in there, the greater chance of an infection developing.

Be Aware of Dangerous Pesticides and Chemicals

It’s best to purchase rose bushes from reputable nurseries. The staff can advise on whether the plants have been treated with fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals that could be dangerous to dogs.

Disulfoton, for example, is a common compound used in pesticides marketed specifically for roses. The granule formula can sometimes be appealing to dogs, and it’s highly toxic to them.

If you’ve purchased a plant without knowing what it’s been treated with, keep your dog away for at least a few weeks. Rinsing may help, but diluting any treatment with water won’t guarantee your dog’s safety.

Symptoms of Thorn Scratches to the Eye

If your dog has stuck their head into a thorny rose bush, it’s always a good idea to check they haven’t damaged the delicate eye area. Even small abrasions can create corneal ulcers that can become serious without treatment.

Common symptoms of a scratched eye include:

  • Redness
  • Excessive watering
  • Light sensitivity
  • Squinting
  • Closing the eye and rapid blinking
  • Rubbing eye repeatedly
  • Film or discharge on or around the eye

If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, don’t delay in seeking advice from your vet. Attempting to treat eye injuries at home without consulting an expert could increase the risk of permanent damage.

What About Other Common Plants?

Always check that there are no poisonous plants in your garden. A wide range of common flowers and plants can be risky for your dog, and some are highly toxic.

Listed below are a few of the most dangerous plants for dogs. Unfortunately, there are many more to avoid. If you want to check the flowers in your garden, you can refer to this handy list of plants created by the ASPCA Pet Poison Control Department.

  • Azalea. Part of the rhododendron family, this popular flower can cause vomiting, drooling and diarrhea, even if a small amount is ingested. In serious cases, the dog may have difficulty breathing or even suffer from a coma.
  • Begonia. Some species of this dangerous plant can have flowers that look like roses. The part of the stem that’s underground is the most toxic part, but care should still be taken, especially if you have a prolific digger. Ingestion can trigger excessive salivation (hypersalivation), vomiting, swelling, and a burning sensation in the mouth.
  • Crocus. The common spring crocus isn’t a big concern for dogs, although it can still cause mild tummy upsets. It’s the autumn variety that’s the big risk. Eating it can cause symptoms from vomiting to organ damage, respiratory failure, and internal bleeding, depending on the amount consumed. 
  • Gardenia. This is another flower that can be mistaken for a rose. Although gardenia isn’t as toxic as some of the other plants on this list, your dog may experience diarrhea, vomiting and itchy hotspots on the skin.

If you’re looking for appropriate additions to your garden, check out our list of ten dog safe flowers.

Summary

Roses aren’t toxic to dogs. So, you don’t need to dig up your beautiful bush or ban all bouquets that contain cuttings of this popular plant.

You still shouldn’t allow your dog to eat lots of petals or leaves, however, as they could cause a stomach upset.

It’s also important to ensure your dog doesn’t get injured on the spiky thorns. Scratches to the delicate eye area are common with inquisitive pooches, and can develop into painful corneal ulcers. Make sure any cut flowers are cleared away so your pet doesn’t tread on them.

Be aware that some toxic plants are easily confused with roses. Begonias and Gardenia are two common examples. When creating a doggy-safe garden, taking the time to identify the plant species is important.

About the Author

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.