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With its brilliant blooms, the heather flower attracts a plethora of gardeners and flower enthusiasts alike. From white to purple and everything in between, this is the perfect flower to add a burst of color to your garden. The fact that the plant can survive all year long including in freezing conditions also makes it incredibly popular. It maintains its vibrancy as long as it gets water and fertile soil. As other plants come and go, heathers will remain intact displaying their varying colors and turning your garden into a paradise. The only question is: is it safe for dogs?
As a pet parent, you have to test everything that comes through your house—plants included. Our furry friends are curious little beings. They love to experiment with anything and everything mostly with their mouths and noses. If they ingest the wrong kind of stuff, they can easily compromise their health. If you are wondering whether the heather flower is safe for canines or not, here’s a succinct guide that answers the question.
What Are Heather Plants?
Heather, Calluna vulgaris, or ling is a beautiful flowering plant belonging to the Ericaceae family under genus Calluna. It is an evergreen shrub that is native to Asia Minor and Europe. The plant dominates most of European heathland and moorland as well as acidic pine, oak woodland, and bog vegetation.
Most people confuse heathers with heaths. Granted, the two plants resemble each other in more ways than one. However, they are different.
Heathers belong to the Calluca genus while heaths are classified under genus Erica which has over 700 species and a wide array of cultivars.
Heathers are also hardier than heaths. However, the biggest and glaring difference between the two is that the heathers have flat leaves while heaths have needle-like leaves. The leaves of the former are also smaller and are borne in decussate and opposite pairs while those of the latter are larger and come in whorls of 3-5 leaves.
Are They Toxic To Dogs?
If you love heathers, you will be happy to know that they are safe around dogs according to this site. Neither the ASPCA nor the Pet Poison Healthline has listed it as a toxic plant. It doesn’t contain the notorious toxicants including saponins, grayanotoxanes, cardiac glycosides, ricin, or any of the chemicals that are toxic for dogs and cats. These toxicants affect the dog’s system in different ways. Some like ricin, a toxic protein found in castor beans, cause abdominal pain, weakness, loss of appetite, tremors, coma, and death. The lily of the valley may smell sweet but it has cardiac glycosides that affect the heart rate and rhythm of the dog. It delivers symptoms like those of the famous Foxglove including cardiac arrhythmias, diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures,
While the heather flowering plant is harmless for dogs, it falls under green matter. It can become dangerous if your doggie eats a lot of it. This is especially true for puppies who suffer intestinal blockages from eating too many leaves.
Then there’s the issue of harmful fertilizer contained in certain garden plants. Despite being harmless, your heather plant can easily become toxic if you use harmful pesticides. This means you have to be careful when on a walk with your dog. She can ingest a few heather leaves on the wayside and run into gastrointestinal issues of all kinds.
Plus, leaves are not really nutritious. They may offer some fiber but you are better off adding carrots, peas, and celery to your dog’s food. These are healthy and dog-friendly.
Dogs are known for sticking their pouts and tongues into places they shouldn’t. Even with sufficient food, they will scarf up and snuffle anything that can be inserted into the mouth. This includes the newly planted heather flower in the garden. Thankfully, the cute blossom is one of the safe garden plants out there. Your dog can chomp on it and roll on it as long as she doesn’t eat too much of it.