Critter Culture
My Dog Ate an Iris! Should I Be Worried?

My Dog Ate an Iris! Should I Be Worried?

Critter Culture Staff



The iris is a stunning flower. With a legacy that goes back hundreds of years, it's a symbol of regal beauty. But if your pup decides to snack on one, the situation won't be pretty.

Responsible pet owners need to know what to do if a dog gets a little too curious about irises. Prevention and knowledge are your best line of defense to keep your furry friend safe.


An attractive flower

purple iris flowers inomasa / Getty Images

Greek for rainbow, irises come in a brilliant array of colors. Part of a large family, there are dozens of varieties. Most are perennials with a similar appearance of sword-like leaves. Often, they have three petals, sepals, and stigma branches, which attract pollinators. Sometimes irises come in shrub form, too.


Are irises poisonous?

dog sniffing purple iris flower

Irises are poisonous to your dog. Fortunately, they're not the most toxic flower your pooch can get its paws into.

Iris poisoning depends on the part of the plant that's consumed. While the entire iris is problematic, it has different levels of toxicity. The highest levels are found in the parts of the plant that are underground. For example, if your pup takes a few bites of a petal, though toxic, it's not as bad as eating the same amount from a bulb.


Irisin toxicity

Blue flower irises Dovapi / Getty Images

Irisin is the main culprit of iris poisoning. It can harm any mammal, including humans. This natural compound is found throughout the plant.

Not only does irisin poison the internal body, but it can irritate the skin, requiring a medical ointment for relief. It's not uncommon for animals who rub the plant to experience redness, inflammation, or even dermatitis. This irritation also happens in the mouth if consumed.


Other poisonous compounds

dog posing with purple iris

Two other compounds found in irises are resinoids and terpenoids. These are natural parts of the flower that could make your dog ill.

Interestingly enough, irises in diluted form have been used medically throughout history. However, steer clear of any homeopathic remedies for your dog that involve these compounds. They're entirely unsafe, even in a refined form.


Can iris toxicity be fatal?

Close-up of a pet dog lying on a mattress and resting indoors NickyLloyd / Getty Images

Eating an iris can kill your dog. Yet this is an extremely rare situation. Two main factors come into play: the pup's size and how much it ingested. The more it eats and the smaller the animal's size, the worse the situation can turn out.

Usually, iris poisoning results in nothing more than illness for a few hours or days. Symptoms mainly have to do with stomach issues. Bellyache, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy are quite common. Sore mouth, ulcers, and bleeding intestines are among the more severe symptoms.


Steps to take if you suspect poisoning

woman using smartphone with her dog sitting in her lap DaniloAndjus / Getty Images

If you see your dog nibbling on an iris, there's no need to become frantic. Don't upset yourself because this will only excite and confuse your pup. Instead, put a stop to the situation immediately and then place a call to your vet. The sooner the situation gets dealt with, the better.

Most of the time, a vet won't need to see a pet for iris poisoning, but the office may give you instructions on how to care for your dog. Follow these guidelines and monitor the situation. Give your pup gentle affection, but don't be overbearing. Call the vet if the symptoms worsen.


Visiting the vet

dog with owner and veterinarian vadimguzhva / Getty Images

The vet may want to see your dog because of a high level of ingestion or simply as a precautionary measure. In this case, get there as soon as possible, and bring the plant with you. This will give your vet a good sense of how much toxin your dog has eaten.

Treatments vary. If the incident recently happened, the vet may induce vomiting or use activated charcoal to rid the body of toxins. Fluid loss is also a concern. Dehydration occurs because of diarrhea and vomiting, so don't be surprised if your pup needs some IV fluids.


Be careful of other family members

Field of gladiolus SandraKavas / Getty Images

The iris family contains a number of subfamilies with a wide range of flowers. To be safe, it's best to keep your pooch away from the entire iris clan.

A popular relation is the gladiolus, which has similar toxicity to the iris. Crocuses are another family member. They're also poisonous, but the degree varies. Those that grow in the autumn are more toxic than spring varieties.


What if you have irises?

Curious dog looks over the garden fence Patrick Daxenbichler / Getty Images

For potted indoor irises, it's ideal to get rid of the plant. Don't toss it in the trash, but give it to a loved one who lives in a pet-free house. If you don't have the heart to part with your flower, then move it to a safe location out of harm's way. Make sure this area is totally inaccessible to your dog.

Especially if your dog's a digging breed, having irises in your garden isn't the safest idea. However, if you still want the flowers around, take precautions. Using a net or a sturdy fence that your furry friend won't get through will help. And always make sure to watch your pup when they're outside.


Lovely and safe iris alternatives

Cute dog and sunflower. wiswind / Getty Images

If you decide to take the safe route and not keep irises, this doesn't mean you'll have to go without beautiful floral arrangements. Both inside and outside, you can have amazing displays using pet-friendly alternatives.

Marigolds, roses, sunflowers, and snapdragons all make great garden substitutes. Or try some safe edible plants for your dog, such as rosemary, dill, or nasturtium. Keeping orchids or African violets in your home will also contribute to a colorful and lively environment.


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