Are Dandelions Poisonous to Dogs?
Considered "weeds" by some and "flowers" by others, an abundance of blooming dandelions is a sure sign of spring. Dandelions can easily be spotted by their bright yellow petals or white puffballs (aka the fluff blown on to make a "dandelion wish").
These perennial plants can be found just about anywhere and everywhere. Keeping that in mind and knowing how inquisitive our canine companions can be, this poses the question: are dandelions poisonous to dogs?
Can Dogs Eat Dandelions or Are They Toxic?
If you just made a dandelion wish for your dog and this plant to peacefully coexist, it worked! There are several types of plants that can be harmful to your dog if eaten. Dandelions, thankfully, are not one of them.
Heather Handley, DVM, Senior Consulting Veterinarian, Clinical Toxicology at the Pet Poison Helpline says that all parts of the dandelion plant can be eaten.
Even better? Dandelions are packed with nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K for an immune system boost, cell and body tissue health, and bone health, respectively. You can rest assured knowing your pup is actually having a nutritious snack … but like anything, just be careful that he doesn't indulge in them.
"Given that dogs don't digest plants well, mild stomach upset could be possible [and] too many leaves could make a dog urinate more temporarily," Handley says.
So, while it may not be the best idea for your dog to feast on a bunch of dandelions, a few here and there are totally OK. With dandelions, the worst case scenario is a stomach ache and more potty breaks.
Do I Need to Worry About Weed Killer?
One thing to be mindful of is that some people use weed-killing herbicides to eliminate dandelions from their lawns and yards. Garden products can indeed be toxic to our furry friends, but how much should we worry about herbicides in particular?
According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, most of the chemicals in herbicides have low toxicity to mammals, and if used properly, are not typically harmful. Although toxicity is unlikely, it is still best to keep dogs off of the lawn for 24-48 hours after spraying weed killer, or following the appropriate instructions on the bottle.
Merck also states that most acute poisonings due to herbicides happen when pets have direct access to the product, as opposed to an area being sprayed with herbicides then consumed. At the same time, we don't know the type or amount of herbicide that's used in an area when we're on strolls with our pups. In these instances, it's best to be aware and proceed with caution—especially if you notice an area has damaged grass and foliage.
What About Dandelion Root Extract?
Dandelion root extract is a natural remedy that has been said to have a number of considerable health benefits, like reducing cholesterol levels, slowing cancer growth, and promoting new skin generation, according to Healthline. However, more research is needed to clearly support these claims for both pets and people.
If your dog were to ingest dandelion root extract though, Handley says no significant signs would be expected from doing so. She points out, "There are even commercial [dandelion root extract] products labeled for dog use."
As with any new food or supplement, consult with your veterinarian to see if dandelion root extract is OK for your dog to take.
What to Do If Your Dog Keeps Eating Dandelions
If your pup can't get enough of dandelions and keeps getting an upset stomach, Handley suggests keeping dandelions away from your dog (you can use one of these gates) or teaching your canine companion a cue to redirect his attention somewhere else.
If you'd rather remove dandelions from your yard altogether, apply a pet-safe weed killer to keep your dog and other outside animals safe from poisoning.
Toxic Weeds to Watch Out For in the Yard or Out on a Walk
Dandelions are a non-toxic weed your dog can eat without worry. But there are some weeds to be on the lookout for when letting Fido frolic in the yard or out on a walk.
Handley recommends steering clear of weeds like:
- Yellow star-thistle
More information on these weeds can be found on the Pet Poison Helpline's common poison list.
If your dog has eaten something toxic, signs of poisoning may include:
If your dog eats toxic weeds—or any other toxin—monitor for signs of poisoning and call your veterinarian ASAP. You can also call 24/7 hotlines like the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.