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Primarily used as summer beds and houseplants, begonias are a staple in many homes. Some love it or their patterned asymmetrical foliage while others utilize it to add a pop of color to green areas within the garden. Speaking of color, this bright flower packs a punch. You will be blown away by how begonias will transform your garden or home. But is it safe for your dog?
Begonias at a Glance
Begonias is a family name for 1,000 species of colorful flowers and luxurious foliage. Some of the species are utilized for window boxes, hanging baskets, and flower beds. Others are best suited for potted plants in the house. This flower is an annual grown in zones 9-11. The most common varieties—tuberous and wax begonias—bloom in early summer until frost. If grown indoors, they bloom any time. The colors of the blooms range from shades of red to white, pink, yellow, orange, depending on the variety.
Begonias come in not only different species but varieties as well. For instance, there are double Begonias (they have large petals that resemble roses), Fimbriata begonias (the petals are fringed and sturdy), hanging begonias (flowers face down rather than up), double picotee begonias (the flowers are two-toned and have the appearance of roses), and non-stop begonias (compact flowers perfect for pots and planters).
Begonias Are Toxic To Dogs
Beautiful, flexible, and easy to plant, begonias make gardening a fulfilling affair. Sadly, it is not a dog-friendly flower. ASPCA has listed it as a toxic flower for dogs, cats, and horses. It has the following toxic compounds:
1. Calcium Oxalate
This is a toxic chemical found in begonia’s tuberous portion. It is common in ornamentals and houseplants and is notorious for causing a burning sensation when it comes in contact with the canine’s oral cavity. If your pup happens to ingest it, his mouth, throat, lips, and tongue will burn intensely. The flower also causes choking, drooling, and gaging, and even worse, swelling of the throat that can interfere with the ability of the dog to swallow. The most unfortunate thing with begonia toxicity is that symptoms can take up to two weeks to show. Well, sometimes you will notice that your dog is in distress after two hours but it can also stretch out.
These are special cells that have all kinds of poisonous matter inside them such as resin, oil, gum, latex, minerals, pigments, raphides, and tannin. Raphides are sharp calcium oxalate crystals with one end being blunt. The crystals are wrapped up in a gel-like substance that has free oxalic acid. When the dog chomps on the plant, the cells are broken down giving the dog’s saliva an entry point to the cell. Once inside, the gelatinous matter swells and forces the raphides to shoot and burst out into the surrounding areas. The calcium crystals pierce through and attach themselves into the dog’s mouth, lips, tongue, throat, and the gut causing great discomfort for the dog. If the dog eats massive amounts of the flower, he will have a bad stomach upset.
3. Cucurbitacin B
Cucurbitacin is a biochemical that gives the plant an unpleasant bitterness and taste. Its toxicity is in the fact that it promotes cell death in a number of animals including dogs. After around two hours of ingestion, your pup will gag, drool, shake his head violently, vomit, pawn at the mouth, present a swollen digestive tract, and have diarrhea. Thankfully, dogs find the taste of the compound horrible and wouldn’t eat a lot of it.
What to Do
The minute you notice any of the symptoms of begonia poisoning, the first thing to do is to rinse the pup’s mouth with a lot of water. Be sure to flush everything in there.
Next, give your dog calcium in the form of cheese, yogurt, and milk to precipitate the crystals of calcium oxalate. This should ease the irritation in a day or less.
If the pet has gastrointestinal upset and vomits or passes runny stools frequently, bring him to the vet for fluid therapy. He might lose a lot of water which can be fatal. In the case that he has a swollen mouth, consider giving him an antihistamine. Your vet should recommend the right dosage for him.
Begonias are beloved summer plants that we have grown to love. They come in so many varieties and species that you will always find plenty of uses for in your home or garden. However, since they are not safe for dogs, they are not ideal for homes with pets and families.