Are Roses Harmful to Pets?


Whether you are breeding a new hybrid for an upcoming show or just love their velvety petals and heady scent, roses can be beautiful additions to your yard. If you have pets, you should know that roses are not toxic to them. That does not mean that they cannot harm your pets, however.


  • Ranging in size from tiny miniatures to bushes with vines that can climb over 20 feet, roses are prized parts of landscaping around the world. Most of the 100 species are native to Asia, but others come from Europe and North America. Easily hybridized, roses come in myriad colors, with many flowers containing more than one hue. Well-attended rosebushes can add brilliant color to your yard.


  • Roses can be harmful to pets in two ways: through direct contact or ingestion. A dog or cat might be injured if it tries to run through a rosebush and is scratched by the plant's thorns. Injuries are mostly likely to occur on a pet's nose and face. If a pet eats part of a rose plant, it could become ill, writes Betsy Brevitz in "The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook." This is not because the rose is poisonous, but because any unfamiliar food can upset an animal's digestive system. This can lead to symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, this can lead to dehydration.


  • Watchful waiting and supportive care are the best treatments for injuries and stomach problems caused by roses. Keep scratches on a pet's face clean and monitor for swelling or pus, which can be warning signs of infection. For digestive issues, give your pet access to plenty of water and the outdoors or a litterbox. If the digestive problems do not fade on their own in a day or two, or if cuts show signs of infection, contact your veterinarian right away.


  • For the sake of both your pets and your roses, it is best to keep them apart. Don't plant roses in your yard in areas where your pet likes to play or in favorite areas to nap. If you have a pet determined to chew on your rosebush, try spraying the plant with bitter apple spray or cayenne pepper. The smell and taste might deter your pet. Building a fence around your roses will also repel pets. If you bring roses into your home, keep them on shelves and tables high enough and out of reach.

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  • ASPCA: Hibiscus
  • "The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook"; Betsy Brevitz; 2009
  • "The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual"; Barbara Pleasant, et al.; 2005
  • Photo Credit David De Lossy/Valueline/Getty Images
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