Are Althea Bushes Toxic to Dogs?

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Keep dogs away from potentially harmful mystery shrubs.
Keep dogs away from potentially harmful mystery shrubs. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Although shrub altheas (Hibiscus syriacus) make attractive additions to many gardens, they're definitely not the most canine-friendly plants on the planet. Althea bushes are toxic to dogs, and as a result, should be kept far away from them. These plants are classified as invasive in certain areas due to their excessive self-sowing tendencies.

Althea Bush Basics

Althea bushes are hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. The deciduous plants are characterized by moderate green alternate foliage and flowers in blue, purple, light purple, red or white. The flowers sometimes appear in bi-colors, as well. These shrubs typically grow to heights of between 8 and 12 feet.

Canine Poison

Althea bushes are poisonous to dogs, although the exact dangerous components of the plants aren't confirmed, according to the ASPCA Because of that, it's crucial to keep pooches away from all segments of the plants, whether blooms, leaves or stems. Dogs that experience althea bush toxicity often exhibit symptoms such as nausea, throwing up, refusal to eat and frequent loose and runny stools.

Poisonous to Other Pets

Althea bushes are highly toxic both to dogs and cats -- and even to horses. Veterinary attention is crucial for all dogs, cats and horses that consume any sections of althea bushes. If you didn't actually catch your pet eating the plant but notice toxicity symptoms, take it to the vet, too. The typical symptoms of althea bush toxicity could indeed point to poisoning, but also could denote a variety of other possible health ailments.

Other Common Monikers

Plants can be tricky in that they are often known by many common names. "Rose of Sharon," is another frequently used common name for althea bushes, for example. Other common monikers for these shrubs are "rose of China" and simply "hibiscus." If your neighbor tells you that she has Rose of Sharon plants growing in her garden, they're just as toxic as althea bushes, as they're one and the same. The more knowledge you have of plants that are toxic to dogs, the safer you can keep your pet.

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