Are Bonsai Trees Harmful To Dogs

Owning bonsai trees seems like a relatively safe hobby, however, for a dog owner, it might be a different story depending on the species of bonsai you own. In this article we are going to break down if bonsai trees are harmful to dogs, which species to avoid and what to look for if your dog, like mine, likes to eat anything and everything.


Some bonsai trees are harmful to dogs, mainly species that contain the toxin cycasin such as the Sago Palm bonsai. Ingestion of a poisonous bonsai tree can lead to vomiting, shallow breathing, seizures and even death, depending on the severity. Treatments usually include induced vomiting, stomach pumping and antibiotics. 


Which Bonsai Trees Are Harmful To Dogs?


The Sago Palm and Cycad trees will contain the toxin cycasin, which will cause a reaction in both dogs and cats. There are a surprisingly high amount of bonsai trees that are harmful to dogs, although a lot of bonsai owners have no issues letting dogs in the same area as their tree collection. The ASPCA have listed the common bonsai trees that are toxic to dogs:




These are the most common bonsai trees that could be harmful to your dog if ingested. If you own any of these species and a dog, it’s important to keep them separated and not allow the dog to potentially eat any of the branches or foliage. I understand that not all dogs are likely to destroy bonsai trees but it really isn’t worth the risk if you’re growing a bonsai tree that contains cycasin, a toxin very harmful to dogs. These trees are not all as poisonous as each other, they range in severity from not too serious, to potentially extremely poisonous to a dog.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Part Of Your Bonsai Tree?


Typically after ingesting the toxin cycasin, your dog is going to display a few symptoms within the first 60 minutes. These vary in severity but your dog will most like be:


-Having bad coordination
-Difficulty breathing
-Lack of focus
-Increased depression or aggressive nature 


If you see any of these symptoms, I would recommend contacting your vet straight away. If you want to try to rectify the situation before contacting a vet, Hunker advises that you need to cause the dog to vomit the toxins out before digestion. This can be achieved by feeding concentrated salt water to your dog, which should cause the dog to vomit within 15 minutes. If they do not, you repeat the process. It’s also said that charcoal or milk of magnesia will give the dogs intestinal walls a coating and potentially help absorb and poisons that were not vomited. With this being said, I would still advise contacting the vet for their advise on the situation as cycasin can cause liver failure in your beloved dog.
You can contact the ASPCA Poison Center on 1-888-426-4435. They will be able to aid you can provide a check up call. They will also be in direct contact with your vet, to help sort the situation out, should it happen.


From my research, the treatments for dogs after ingesting poisonous bonsai trees seem to range in severity depending on how much was eaten and the actual tree species. Mostly these treatments include induced vomiting, pumping the stomach, IV lines to stop dehydration and antibiotics. All of these treatments are not going to be nice for any dog to go through, nor the owner, so definitely make sure you’re keeping the dog away from any bonsai tree, poisonous or not.

If you are the owner of one of the species listed, make sure that you are constantly checking for any missing foliage or branches, that could have been consumed by your dog. Even if there are initially no symptoms, it’s worth contacting your vet to be on the safe side. Having a lovely bonsai tree isn’t worth the life of a beloved pet, please do everything you can to ensure that the situation of your dog eating your bonsai tree doesn’t arise.
Always think about your pets when choosing a bonsai tree.

You Want A Bonsai Tree And Have A Dog… What Can You Do?

There are thousands of people across the world that have a bonsai tree and a dog in the same environment and nothing bad comes of it. Not all bonsai tree species are poisonous to dogs, some have absolutely no negative effect on an animals health. From the research I have been doing, the active ingredient that will cause your dog serious harm is cycasin, providing the tree species doesn’t contain that, it should be safe around dogs.


With that being said, I would highly advise consulting a local bonsai nursery or even your vet to get their recommendation face to face. I could advise you on a perfect species of bonsai tree for a dog owner but frankly you shouldn’t believe me and trust me with your dogs life without doing more research. Dogs are so precious to families and I wouldn’t want you to risk that or ever take a chance.


Growing Your Bonsai Tree Somewhere The Dog Can’t Get To It

People tend to have a misconception that all bonsai trees are meant to be grown indoors all year round. This simply isn’t true, in fact, the majority of bonsai trees need to be grown outdoors for at least some of the year! A simple rule of thumb is to look at where that tree species actually lives in nature, what climate does it thrive in. If you live in a colder climate and the species of tree you are wanting to grow, lives there in nature, that bonsai tree should be grown outdoors.


I’m saying this because you could grow the tree out of the way of the dog, somewhere it cannot get access to the bonsai. This could be in a section of the house it isn’t allowed in, or an area of the garden the dog doesn’t have access to. The best course of action is always going to be just choosing a species that isn’t harmful to dogs, but if you have a desire to grow a Cycad bonsai for example, this could solve your issue.



Final Thoughts 

Not all bonsai trees are harmful to dogs, just some of them are. Many bonsai tree owners also have a dog, so don’t let this put you off the idea of getting a bonsai tree but you must make sure the species isn’t poisonous to dogs beforehand. A lot of dog owners are sure that their dog would never start tearing up and eating a houseplant or bonsai tree but is it really worth the risk? Dogs are really part of the family so it would be terrible to have anything happen to them.


If you suspect your dog has eaten some of your bonsai tree, you need to call your vets or the ASPCA Poison Center on 1-888-426-4435. They are going to be able to help you out, liaise with your vets and know exactly what to do in your specific case. The symptoms and treatments completely range in severity depending on the dog, species of bonsai tree and how much was consumed.



Relevant Articles – Are Bonsai Trees Poisonous To Cats / How To Choose A Bonsai Tree 




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