Can Eating Roses Hurt Your Pets?

Check out the original article I wrote on this topic at

Call a poison hotline 1-800-222-1222 if your pet appears to have been exposed to anything toxic.

Roses are not poisonous to your pet unless the stems, leaves or flowers have been sprayed with pesticides or some other chemical. Curious kittens or puppies can, however, injure themselves on the thorns of roses if they are playing around in your favorite rose bush.

There are several plants that are called rose, but they are actually not roses at all. The “rose named” plants below are dangerous to animals:

Members of the hibiscus family such as this swamp mallow are toxic to pets.
  • The Rose of Sharon (also called the rose of China or Althea) is a member of the hibiscus family. It has large lavender, pink, blue, purple or red flowers that bloom June through September. Though lovely to look at, these plants are harmful if ingested.
  • The Rose Mallow  is another plant from the hibiscus family. It is common in the swamps and marshlands of the southeast.
  • The Rose Daphne It is a low growing shrub that is often used as a ground cover. Daphne plants have different levels of toxicity, so you do need to watch your pets around them. Pets should not eat the berries or gnaw on the stems or leaves.
  • The Christmas Rose (also called Easter or Lenten rose) is an evergreen perennial that is popular as a Christmas decoration. They bloom from December through April.
  • The Desert Rose (also called the Sabi star, desert azalea, or impala lily) is a medium sized shrub that has white or lavender flowers with dark throats.
  • The Moss Rose (also called portulaca, rock moss, purslane, pigweed and pusley,) is a succulent that loves hot dry areas. They are popular for window boxes and planter boxes.
  • The Primrose has 450 species that grow easily and are popular for flower gardens. Primrose oil is a favorite home remedy for people who suffer from eczema or arthritis, but it is not intended to be swallowed. Don’t use it on your cats or dogs since they lick themselves often and the oil is toxic to them and will cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • The Rosebay (also called rhododendron, great laurel or azalea) is toxic. Azaleas are very popular in landscapes because of their lovely variety and abundance of blooms in the early spring. The flowers, stems and leaves are highly toxic so don’t let your fur babies play around in them.
  • The Wood Rose (This plant ins not a flowering shrub, it is a vine.) When the seed pods dry out they look like roses carved out of wood. The plant originated in India, but varieties of it exit in Hawaii and parts of the Caribbean. Some varieties have hallucinogenic properties.

Check out this list of Plants Toxic to Dogs from the ASPCA for a more complete list of dangerous plants to be aware of.

Garden roses are not poisonous to pets, but if they are treated with pesticides or other chemicals, keep your animals away from them.