Juniper Needles, Stems & Berries and Dogs

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Junipers (Juniperus spp.) are a large and diverse group of plants. The handsome evergreen ranges from towering trees and low-lying shrubs to groundcover. Because they are so versatile, junipers are used in many different types of landscapes, such as city parks and personal property where the family dog or puppy plays, explores and all too often chews its way into things.

Toxicity

  • Junipers are classified as mildly toxic to dogs and other pets, according to the Morris Veterinary Center. This includes the plant's stems, berries and needles. Many junipers have rather sharp needles, making it unlikely that a dog would enjoy chewing on the plant -- but then again, most dogs do like to chew on wood, and your dog may grab a loose juniper branch in his mouth if he is feeling playful, or if he is a teething puppy.

Symptoms

  • The mild toxicity of junipers means that your dog has a good chance of being fine even if he chews on or ingests part of a juniper plant. If he eats a lot of the berries, however, he may have stomach pain and will likely vomit them back up, according to the North Dakota State University Extension Service. Always consult your veterinarian if you think your dog has ingested part of a plant, even if you think the plant is safe, and save part of the plant to show the doctor if she asks you to bring your dog in for an appointment. This will make it easier for the doctor to treat your dog, if necessary.

Climate

  • Don't let the mild toxicity of junipers scare you from planting them. They are attractive, extremely hardy plants. In fact, there is a juniper species for every U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone, according to the University of California IPM Online. You can use the plants for just about anything -- privacy screens or hedges, erosion control and groundcover, or even as specimen plants. Most do not tolerate heavy pruning, but topiaries are made with the evergreen.

Culture

  • Junipers in general prefer full sun and open spaces. They are tolerant of all types of soils -- some even grow in sand, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension -- and adapt to different pH levels in the soil. The plants are drought-tolerant, so it's better to underwater than overwater. For this reason, junipers grow best in well-draining locations.

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