Are Hostas Poisonous to Dogs?

If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know how much they like to chew and munch on things. This habit is especially true for mischievous puppies who want to taste everything they can lay their paws on.  But while a canine’s digestive system may be hardy, not everything is safe for dogs to eat.

Hosta plants are poisonous to dogs. However, the repercussions usually are not severe. Your dog may suffer an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. How bad the symptoms might manifest depends on how many hostas the dog eats. To be safe, always contact a veterinarian if your dog eats hostas.

If your dog has recently been playing in the garden (chasing butterflies and rabbits), there is at least a chance that hosta plants will tempt the furry guy’s palate. An hour later, the poor pup lies in bed with a tummy ache.

This article will examine how hostas are poisonous to dogs and what you can do to protect them.

What Part of the Hosta Is Poisonous to Dogs?

The entire hosta plant is toxic to your dog, including the leaves, stem, bulbs, and flowers. Saponin is a bitter-tasting, poisonous, plant-based organic chemical that you may find throughout the hosta plant. Thus your dog eating any part of the plant may be cause for concern.

The saponin in your hosta plant repels animals and insects that feed on them. This toxin is a defense mechanism developed over years of evolution to defend the plant from predation.

Unfortunately, this toxin can and will affect your dog and produce a severity of reactions according to the amount your pet ingested. These symptoms include bloating, stomach pain, and vomiting.

In large enough doses, your pet may die, although they need to eat quite a substantial amount f the plant for this to occur.

Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Hostas?

Every single part of a hosta plant contains saponin. This toxin is an organic chemical that foams when shaken in water. Humans have myriad uses for saponin—but not dogs.

Your dog can get sick from eating hostas because the plants contain saponins. After ingestion, the saponins will foam up in a dog’s stomach. Indigestion, vomiting, and loose bowel movements are common reactions.

When dogs get into the hosta garden, they come away feeling sick. Just about any dog who eats hosta leaves—or the rather pretty bell-shaped flowers of the hosta—will get sick for at least a couple of hours.

We’ve all been in bed with the 24-hour flu. The effects of the hosta plant on your dog will be similar to that of bad flu. The trouble lies not with your dog getting sick but just how sick the dog will get. The seriousness may vary. So let us examine what to do if your dog eats hostas.

If Your Dog Eats Hostas

Hosta gardens can thrive from Cleveland, Ohio, to Cut Bank, Montana. Curious pets might eat the leaves or the flowers. And when they—specifically, the dogs—get sick, your first reaction is to feel concerned.

If your dog eats hostas, chances are there is no need to fear. But to err on the side of caution, call a veterinarian. Hosta plants do not typically cause serious illness in dogs.

The dogs get sick for a while before recovering on their own. Again, it’s almost like being in bed with the flu. Your dog may come down with symptoms like:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea         
  • Vomiting         
  • Bloating          
  • Fatigue.          

The dog will typically endure these symptoms in just about every case. However, there are always exceptions. That’s just the way life is. Sometimes hosta plants can be dangerously harmful to dogs.

Can My Dog Die From Eating Hosta Plants?

The idea of losing a beloved pet to poisoning isn’t the least bit cheerful. But in talking about it, we are at least given a chance for prevention. Hosta plants are not friendly to animals; in rare cases, they can be downright cruel.

Dogs can die from eating hosta plants, though it is not common. Sometimes the plant will disable the dog’s intestinal tract by twisting it out of truth or throwing off the rhythm of their heart. Any unusual allergic reaction can also bring about death for the dog.

As mentioned in the previous section, calling a vet is the safest bet. The vet will likely ask if the dog has vomited since eating the plant. If your answer is no, then it’s time to induce vomiting.

However, do not try to make your dog vomit if they are unresponsive, is having trouble breathing, is suffering from convulsions, or if you think the dog has eaten something that will hurt even more if it comes back up.

Veterinarians consider symptoms like these a medical emergency, and it’s time to get the dog to the nearest animal hospital.

What Veterinarians Do for Dogs Who’ve Ingested Hostas

We’ve already covered that the vet will likely induce vomiting. A more technical term for this is emesis. The vet may also treat your dog with activated charcoal. This charcoal is made extra porous through contact with high-temperature oxygen. Activated charcoal forces toxins to bind to it—rather than be digested by the dog.

The vet will require urine samples and will administer blood tests, and they will likely keep your dog overnight. The most important factors of the seriousness of the dog’s toxic reaction include:

  • The concentration of saponin in the plant.
  • The size of your dog.
  • The amount of hosta that the dog ingested.

Should your dog exhibit symptoms of dehydration, the vet will attach an intravenous drip. The drip stimulates kidney function and promotes electrolytes (in short, the IV drip will keep the dog hydrated).

If the dog’s intestines are twisted or kinked because of the hostas, immediate surgery is required to rectify the problem. Note that this is not common, so please don’t panic.

About Hostas and Dogs

One is a rather popular plant, while the other goes woof and likes to cuddle in your lap. Except we need to delve deeper than that if we expect to understand why dogs occasionally eat hostas and why this is not an especially good idea.

The hosta plant’s original home is in northeast Asia. This origin means places like Japan, Korea, and even eastern Russia. It can easily survive for years in any climate, not near the equator. Its leaves are large and lily-shaped. They are a source of temptation for dogs who love to chew on things—which means almost every dog in existence.

Americans have been keeping hosta gardens for a long time. Because these plants do so well in temperate climates, they can easily thrive in places like Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Upper Michigan, and Minnesota. Their main claim to fame—at least for flower gardeners—is that they can spruce up a shady area with their lush growth.

A dog has a primal instinct for gnawing. But the hosta leaf doesn’t look like a chew toy. Instead, a dog poking around the yard may chew on—and wind up eating—a hosta leaf out of simple boredom or hunger. Some hosta leaves taste good (humans can use them in salads and sandwiches), so the dog may also pursue that pleasure.

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Owning a Dog and a Hosta Garden

Dogs and hostas. Now in many places around the web, and perhaps around your town, a no-nonsense platter of advice gets brought to the table: If you own a dog, get rid of your hostas; or, if you own hostas, get rid of your dog.

Dogs and hostas can co-exist if a good set of boundaries are firmly in place. If you love both your pup and your plants so much that you must keep both, consider these options:

  • Fence off your hostas.           
  • Grow the hostas in a place the dog never goes.       
  • Never let your dog into the yard without supervision.

Some recommend spraying your hosta plant with lemon juice as citrus smells and flavors repel dogs. Other citrus fruits such as grapefruit will have the same effect and deter your furry friend from partaking in your hostas. 

An attractive wood, pine, or cedar fence can improve the look of your whole yard, not just the garden. Hosta plants can also flourish in pots placed up and out of a dog’s reach. Hanging pots are a great way to enhance your garden aesthetics and protect your beloved Fido.


Hosta plants are poisonous to dogs, but the symptoms go away on their own more often than not. However, it is difficult to calculate the severity of poison ingestion, and your dog’s particular physiology can make the situation more serious.

If you have a young pup or a dog who has a penchant for chewing garden plants, your best bet is to fence off your hostas or place them outside your dog’s reach. If you can’t isolate your dogs from your garden plants, it may be the only option to eliminate the plant from your garden.

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