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Are Dahlias Poisonous to Cats? Common Houseplants Examined

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Dahlias are perennials that bring a splash of color to late-summer gardens. The flower blooms from mid-July until the first frost in most parts of the U.S. Smaller varieties grow well in pots, and many gardeners bring the cut flowers inside. While dahlias are lovely to look at, they are mildly toxic to cats.

Cat owners should know the signs of plant poisoning in cats. Below, we discuss what symptoms to look for and how to keep your kitty safe.

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What Happens if Your Cat Eats a Poisonous Plant Like a Dahlia?

Dahlia are on the ASPCA list of toxic plants however what makes them mildly toxic is not known.  They report that mild dermatitis and gastroenteritis can be seen.

Stay calm if you catch your kitty nibbling on a dahlia or other toxic plant.

  • Brush any visible plant pieces from their fur.
  • Remove any plant matter from their mouths if you can safely reach inside. Be careful, as you don’t want your cat to bite you or push any dahlia pieces down their throat.
  • Place your cat in a safe, secure area. You’ll need to monitor them and possibly transport them to the vet. You can leave them in a small room like a bathroom.
  • Call your veterinarian or local 24/7 animal hospital. Have a pen and paper handy, as you may need to write instructions or another phone number.
  • Follow the medical advice you receive, whether continuing to monitor your kitty at home or taking them to your veterinarian ASAP.
beautiful dahlia flower
Image Credit: Ralphs_Fotos, Pixabay

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Has Been Poisoned by a Plant?

In many instances, it is obvious what your kitty got into. The vase of dahlias is on the floor, and petals are everywhere! However, some cats are more sneaky about getting into things they shouldn’t. Here are some symptoms cats experience when they eat a toxic plant.

  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drinking more than usual

Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian anytime your cat behaves differently or displays concerning symptoms. There are many illnesses that can cause the above symptoms and they don’t necessarily point to poisoning.  However, your pet should still be seen by a vet.

What Do Dahlias Look Like?

Identifying a dahlia is the first step in knowing if your kitty ate one or if they got into a different plant. Even the most seasoned gardener can struggle to identify a dahlia since the flowers come in a wide range of colors—everything from white to mauve and purple. The flowers are full and bushy at peak bloom, and most dahlia varieties have pointed petals.

If you aren’t sure if the plant your cat ate was, in fact, a dahlia, take a photo to show your veterinarian. You can also place the dahlia in a plastic bag and take it to the animal clinic or hospital.

Are Dahlia Petals Poisonous to Cats?

We could not find source information on the toxicity of dahlia but they are listed on the ASPCA as mildly toxic to cats, dogs and horses. It is safer to err on the side of caution in the case of dahlia ingestion.

orange dahlia flower
Image Credit: Ralphs_Fotos, Pixabay

Which Flowers Are Safe for Cats?

Dahlias are one flower that many gardeners cut to display inside their homes. But as we’ve discussed, dahlias and kitties may be better kept apart. You can still bring some floral color to your home with cat-safe flowers like Gerbera daisies and roses.

However, even non-toxic plants and flowers can upset a cat’s stomach. Nibbling on a cat-safe plant may cause vomiting and diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed.

How to Keep Your Cat Safe Around Houseplants

You don’t have to have a plant-free home just because you have a feline roommate. There are ways you can keep flowers and houseplants out of reach.

  • Hang flower pots or vases from the ceiling
  • Display small flowers or plants in a terrarium
  • Use natural cat repellents like citrus peels

You can also keep your cat occupied with catnip or a pot of cat grass. This safe treat satisfies your cat’s natural urge to nibble on plants.

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Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, dahlias are thought to be toxic to cats. You should call your veterinarian if your cat eats any part of the plant. Similar flowers that are not poisonous to cats include Gerbera daisies and roses. Even non-toxic plants and flowers can upset a kitty’s stomach, but you can lure your cat away from your houseplants by providing cat grass or catnip.

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Featured Image Credit: AnnaER, Pixabay

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