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Is Butterfly Weed Toxic to Dogs? [What to do if Ingested?]

Growing butterfly weed bushes in your garden may sound like a great idea, but be wary if you own a dog.

According to ASPCA, all parts of butterfly weed, a member of the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae), contain steroidal glycosides cardenolides which can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities.

Do not worry yet; there are ways you can grow butterfly weed without worrying about pet poisoning.

Continue reading to learn if butterfly weed is toxic to dogs, its effects and treatments, and ways to grow it safely.

Is Butterfly Weed Toxic To Pets?

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a perennial wildflower from the milkweed family native to North America.

Many gardens and patios are decorated with this illustrious ornamental plant for its bright orange and yellow flowers that bloom every spring and summer.

Although it serves as a vital food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars and boasts a history of medicinal uses, it may be fatal to small animals, including canines.

Butterfly weed
Monarch butterfly feasting on Butterfly weed flowers.

Every plant in the milkweed family is considered mildly toxic to dogs and cats, and butterfly weed is no different.

It contains certain chemicals (steroidal glycosides, cardenolides, and neurotoxins) that can cause mild gastrointestinal distress.

Remember, the toxic compounds in butterfly weed are primarily found in the milky sap of the plant present in leaves, stems, fruits, and flowers.

If your dog nibble or consume these plant parts, poisoning is likely.

How Much Is Butterfly Weed Toxic To Dogs?

Notably, the toxicity levels found on butterfly weed are relatively low compared to other toxic plants like ZZ plant, Monstera, and Alocasia.

However, it can still be toxic when consumed significantly, usually with dozens of leaves and stems containing white sap.

Compared to large dog breeds, small breeds (22 lb. or less) such as Poodle, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, and Pomeranian are more likely to experience the symptoms quickly.

Common preliminary symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Profound depression
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Profuse salivation
  • Incoordination

Expect the following symptoms when failing to diagnose and treat these problems.

  • Anorexia
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Dilated pupils
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Comatose
  • Respiratory paralysis
Butterfly weed flowers
Dogs and cats are primarily attracted to the colorful foliage of Butterfly weed.

If you suspect accidental ingestion, contact Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA) at (888) 426-4435 and National Capital Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Butterfly Weed?

Taking immediate action is essential if your dog accidentally eats butterfly weed or any potentially toxic plant.

1. Identify the Plant: Confirm that your dog has consumed butterfly weed or any other potentially toxic plant. Take note of any abovementioned symptoms or unusual behaviors.

2. Remove Access to the Plant: Remove leftover plant parts from their mouth. Feed some curd and water to flush the toxins. Feeding 1 gram of activated charcoal helps to absorb the poison.

3. Contact a Poison Control Hotline: Contact the poison control hotline and provide them with detailed information about the poisoning to get the best suggestion.

4. Clinical or Veterinary Help: If the symptom does not subside and your health does not improve, immediately take your dog to the vet.

  • The veterinarian will thoroughly examine your dog and perform preliminary tests to assess their condition.
  • The veterinary treatment may include inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal to absorb toxins.
  • For further help, they may apply intravenous fluids for hydration or other necessary interventions and keep in-monitor for a day or two.

Tips to Keep Butterfly Weed Away From Your Pets

Grow butterfly weeds in your garden, porch, or patio without worrying about your dog or cat nibbling on their leaves.

Here are five practical ways to keep your pets at bay.

  • Fencing or Barriers: Install a physical barrier around your plants, such as a plant netting or mesh, to prevent pets from accessing them.
  • Elevated Planting: Place butterfly weeds in raised beds or elevated containers off the ground, including hanging pots.
  • Natural Deterrents: Natural deterrents or repellents will discourage pets from approaching the plant. For example, sprinkling crushed red pepper flakes and applying citrus-scented repellents or neem oil will be effective.
  • Repellant Houseplants: Did you know some plants emit smells that ward off dogs and cats? Some examples include growing Citronella, Rosemary, Lavender, and Rue beside butterfly weeds.
  • Chemical Repellents: Lastly, you can use chemical repellents to deter pets. These repellents include pungent white vinegar, apple bitter, Citronella oil, or a pet corrector.

From Editorial Team

Keep Your Dogs Away From Butterfly Weed!

Prevention and supervision are often the best approaches to keeping pets away from plants to keep them from harm’s way and maintain plants’ vigor!

Using chemical repellants should be a last resort and should be used with caution.

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