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Are Begonias Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

Though Begonia helps decor your garden with green or reddish-brown leaves with multi-colored tepals, it may be suspicious to grow around your pets. 

Generally, Begonias are poisonous to pets, including cats and dogs. They 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.

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

But that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate 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 1,500 species and 10,000 hybrids, Begonia, in itself, is a mildly poisonous plant. However, among these, over 1,000 species are reported to be found poisonous to cats and dogs.

Most of the Begonias are terrestrial, whereas small portions are epiphytes.

Toxins are observed in the terrestrial species of Begonias, which are upright, rhizomatous, or tuberous.

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

begonia in pot
Avoid your pets to mess with the Begonia.

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

Although the underground part of the plant is lethal, it’s almost impossible to keep furry friends out of their curiosity cycle.

If you mistakenly trip over the pot or your pet starts snacking over the plant, it will likely affect them.

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 cell 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 are 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 pose a grave threat to your feline.

Symptoms of Begonias Poisoning in Cats and Dogs

The tubers and stems are considered poisonous as they contain a high concentration of toxins. Besides, the sap of Begonia consists of raphides. 

Thus, Begonia is a mild-toxic plant containing 6% of the dry weight of the plant with calcium oxalate crystals.

Since it has an unusual taste, a large amount of ingestion is impossible. But even a small amount of chewing off the plant parts can cause significant discomfort among your furry friends.

The symptoms of Begonias poisoning will appear within 2-24 hours of ingesting the plant.

1. Oral Irritation

Your pets might experience a burning sensation in 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.

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 the 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.

What to do if Cats and Dogs Consume Begonias? 

Since the plant is bitter and irritates the mouth, significant pet ingestion is unlikely.

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

You can apply some first-aid steps to relieve the pain faster.

  • First, rinse or flush the mouth of pets with the help of water. Take the pets under the open space to do it. 
  • Wrap the pets in the blanket if they are quivering. 
  • Take your pets to a ventilated area if the pets are struggling with respiratory issues. 
  • Do not feed anything on hearsay. Also, avoid inducing vomiting, as it can cause further harm to pets. 

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 mentioned below:

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

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.

Your pets will take 1-2 weeks to bounce back and start feeling like themselves.

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

The diet will have certain restrictions because of the oral damage, but the exercises to keep up will be minimal.

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

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. 

But 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.

  • Furry animals are usually sensitive to smells. So, spray your Begonias with repellents like Bodhi Spray
  • One sniff, and they’re away from the plant. This trick is straightforward yet effective.
  • 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.
  • Plant your Begonias at a certain height where they can’t reach so that curiosity won’t kill the cat.
  • If you surround them with plants like Marigold and Rue, which they supposedly don’t prefer, you don’t have to worry about anything.

From Editorial Team


Knowing about your plants’ effects on your fur babies would be best if you are a plant parent and own animals.

Keep your Begonias 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 your plants, pets, and even yourself from unwanted trauma.

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