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Are Begonias Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

Are you a pet lover along with being a plant fanatic? You might be concerned about your furry friends being rebels with your indoor plants like Begonias poisonous plant.

As beautiful as they may appear, Begonias are poisonous to your pets, and I will tell you how.

Begonias consist of soluble calcium oxalate, which, when ingested, causes vomiting and excessive salivation to your pets, drooling, and diarrhea and can even cause fatal diseases like kidney failure among grazing animals.

Begonias Plant (Source: Unsplash)

The whole Begonias plant is mildly toxic to everything, but the roots are especially fatal.

But that doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your whole plant. Continue reading to find out how to tame your infamous plant in a pet-friendly way.

What Kind of Begonias is Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

With almost over 1,500 species and 10,000 hybrids, Begonia, in itself, is a mild-poisonous plant. However, among these, over 1,000 species are reported to be found poisonous among cats and dogs.

The majority of the Begonias are terrestrial, whereas small portions of them are epiphytes.

Toxins are observed in the terrestrial species of Begonias which are upright, rhizomatous, or tuberous. However, in general, over 1,000 species of Begonias are poisonous to pets.

Tubers are the most poisonous part of the Begonias as they are facilitated with toxins like calcium oxalate and cucurbitacin B.

When consuming these types of Begonias, you will see the symptoms around 2 – 3 hours of ingestion.

Are Begonias Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

In simple words, Begonias are poisonous to cats and dogs. Although the underground part of the plant is lethal, it’s almost impossible to keep furry friends out of their curiosity cycle.

If mistakenly tripped over the pot or if your pet starts snacking over the plant, then chances are it will affect them.

Begonias are listed as one of the toxic plants for pets as per ASPCA’s Poison Control Center.

These plants produce chemical substances like any other plants to keep them safe from threats as a self-defense mechanism.

For instance, Begonias produce a particular type of cells called idioblast, which stores toxins like calcium oxalate.

When pets chew on the leaves of these plants, the tip of the idioblast is broken, releasing the toxins they were storing, which causes instant irritation to the mouth and gastrointestinal upset if swallowed.

It can cause severe fluid loss and dehydration in older cats, which might be a grave level threat to your feline.

Which Part of Begonia is Poisonous for Cats and Dogs?

All the plant parts are toxic, but the tubers and stem are considered poisonous as it consists of a high level of concentration of toxins.

The sap of Begonia consists of raphides. Almost 6% of the dry weight of the plant consists of calcium oxalate crystals.

These crystals can destroy cell boundaries, including skin cells and lining of the digestive system if swallowed.

These crystals are capable of embedding themselves into tissues and act as a potent irritant. Hypersalivation, vomiting, and drooling is the reaction of purging the chemicals.

What Amount of Begonias is Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

Begonia, a mild-toxic plant, consists of calcium oxalate crystals all over the plant’s body.

Since it has an unusual taste, a large amount of ingestion is not possible. But even a small amount of chewing off the plant parts can cause significant discomfort among your furry friends.

Even a tiny amount of the plant can cause instant irritation, vomiting, and swelling of mouthparts.

Symptoms of Begonias Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

The symptoms of Begonias poisoning will begin appearing from 2 – 24 hours of ingestion of the plant.

The symptoms of Begonias poisoning start from intense burning and irritation in the mouth to hypersalivation. But there are more.

Below are the symptoms you can expect to see if your furry friends ingest the Begonias plant.

1. Oral Irritation

Your pets might experience a burning sensation on the oral parts like the mouth, lip, and tongue, which causes hypersalivation.

2. Lethargy and Easily Irritated

Your pets will appear lethargic and can get easily irritated for no reason if the plant has been ingested.

pothos poisonous to pets
A sick puppy (Source: Unsplash)

3. Excessive Vomiting or Dry Heaving

Your pets might start vomiting excessively or experience difficulty in vomiting. They might whine or bark in an unusually weak or hoarse sounding voice along with dry heaving.

4. Swelling of Mouth

Ingestion of the plants causes swelling of the mouth among your pets, followed by gagging, pawing in the mouth, and violently shaking head.

5. Frequent Bowel Movement

As an immediate response to the ingestion of the poisonous plant, your pets might suffer from diarrhea and vomiting.

6. Inability to Swallow

Ingestion of Begonias causes difficulty in swallowing, due to which you can observe your pets refusing food and water.

7. Other Symptoms

Your pets might show other clinical signs like depression, drooling, dehydration, refusing to eat or drink, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can be observed in some extreme cases.

First Aid Treatment from Begonias Poisoning

There are some first aid steps you can apply to relieve them from the pain faster.

  • First, rinse or flush the mouth with the help of water.
  • Then, you can give them some yogurt, cheese, or milk to soothe the pain.
  •  In case of dehydration and diarrhea, provide your pets with fluid therapy.
  • Antihistamine and Benadryl can help with internal swelling in a matter of an hour or two.
  • In case of gastrointestinal upset, you can provide them with Kaleptocin.

However, it would be best to contact your veterinarian or take your pet to a veterinarian in case of ingestion of Begonias.

You can contact Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661.

Diagnosis of Begonias Plant Poisoning

The veterinarian usually runs multiple tests to determine the exact nature of the substance your pets have ingested.

These tests include blood analysis, a physical examination, and endoscopy to examine the digestive tract to find any damage.

As a pet owner, you should keep all necessary details like the ingested plant species, time of ingestion, breed, age, height, and weight of your pet. This will help smoothen and simplify the process.

Dog At Veterinarian
Dog At Veterinarian (Source: Zooplus)

Make your vet clear about your pets’ specific allergies and mention certain medications they are undergoing to prevent complications during diagnosis.

Tip: Bring a sample of the plant ingested or vomiting sample, if possible, to simplify the diagnosis.

Treatment from Begonia Poisoning in Pets

Since the plant is bitter and irritates the mouth, significant ingestion by pets is unlikely to happen.

Mild cases of Begonias poisoning clear themselves over forty-eight hours by themselves.

However, in case of fluid loss and extreme dehydration, fluid therapy is started. This helps to flush out the poisonous substances from the body while maintaining hydration.

Fluid therapy also prevents any kidney damage that can be caused due to ingestion of Begonias.

A cat undergoing treatment
A cat undergoing treatment (Source: Pixabay)

Anti-inflammatories are recommended to ensure a clear airway and to reduce any swelling. Additional medicines will be needed to protect the stomach lining by increasing its viscosity.

In case of difficulty in breathing, your pets will be administered to an oxygen vent. In extreme cases, your pets will be subjected to intubation to manage the level of oxygen.

If you notice your pets urinating frequently, don’t be alarmed, as this prevents the chances of crystallization of the toxins inside their body.

Stages of Recovery from Begonias Poisoning

Begonias toxicity is mild compared to plants like Peace Lily, Snake Plants, and ZZ plants so, the recovery period is relatively fast.

It will take 1 – 2 weeks for your pets to bounce back and start feeling like themselves.

When no longer ingested, oxalate crystals lose their potency, and its effect starts fading quickly.

There will be certain restrictions in the diet because of the oral damages, but the exercises to keep up will be minimal.

So unless your pets have been installed feeding tube, there’s nothing to worry about.

Make sure you don’t miss the follow-up if there’s any.

How to Prevent Your Cats and Dogs from Eating Begonias?

No matter how disciplined your furry friends are, time and again, they get a little mischievous with plants. So, prevention is better than cure when it comes to your pets.

You don’t have to choose between your pets and plants if little care is taken. You can prevent your pets from eating Begonias in the following ways.

1. Using Repellents

Furry animals are usually sensitive to smells. So, spraying your Begonias with repellents like Bodhi Dog Not Here! Spray can undoubtedly keep your pets away.

One sniff and they’re away from the plant. This trick is straightforward yet effective.

2. Fencing the Plant

If you are a dog parent, fencing would be the best way to keep your pet away from the plants. Just place your plants on the top of the shelf or somewhere higher.

Make sure your dog can’t reach the plants on its two legs.

3. Use Hanging Pots

Since cats are jumpy and can reach almost everywhere, the fencing idea doesn’t work for them. However, using hanging pots for the plants might do the trick for your feline.

Plant your Begonias at a certain height where they can’t reach so that curiosity won’t kill the cat.

4. Keep Your Begonias Surrounded by Other Plants.

Surrounding your Begonias with other plants prevents the direct contact of your pets with the plant.

If you surround them with plants like Marigold and Rue, which they supposedly don’t prefer, then you don’t have to worry about anything.

Learning about Begonias plant poisoning might have you curious. Find out if Zebra plant is toxic to pets.


If you are a plant parent and own animals, it would be best to know about your plants’ effects on your fur babies.

Keep your plants out of your pet’s reach, and if possible, train your fur babies not to consume any plants, whether poisonous or non-poisonous. It will save both your plants and pets and even you from unwanted trauma.

Your pets might not know what’s best for them, but you certainly do!

So take care of your pets and your plants alike!

Do you have a Fiddle Leaf Fig in your living space? Read this before placing it in front of your pet: Are Fiddle Leaf Figs Toxic To Dogs?

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