Is Foxglove poisonous to dogs and cats?

Jun 11, 2019 | Garden, Tips and Tricks

I took advantage of some down time in our schedule last week to get the mulch and landscape finished around our house.  I’m not an ace at landscape design and have to admit that I get a plan in place, head to the garden center and then get completely side tracked when I walk in and see all of the beautiful plants and flowers.  But this year, I knew I wanted to stay with pinks, whites, yellows, and greens and when I found these unique flowers with hanging white, cream, and light pink bells on them, I knew I wanted them planted in my new urns from Lowe’s and along our side porch.  

And in my search for the perfect perennials, I looked at so many flowers that the descriptions eventually started to run together in my mind.  I bought my flowers and rushed home to plant them only to do research later to find that my beautiful bell shaped flowers that I made an extra trip for were highly toxic to dogs and cats!!!!!  These bell shaped plants are called Foxglove!  

These plants bloom continuously, are short-lived but multiply easily, and bring the hummingbirds which is one of the reasons I bought them.  I’m slowly creating a butterfly and hummingbird haven in our yard.  But I also noticed that they bring bumble bees and drop their petals continuously.  This made me think…what if the dogs decide to eat the fallen petals? Jake and Maggie have a habit of picking up mulch, sticks, and rocks but never swallow anything.  They just like to carry what they find in their mouths and then show me!  haa haa. They do not eat flowers but what if they decided to eat this plant and I wasn’t watching them closely?  Turns out, this would not be good.  

Symptoms of Foxglove Poisoning in Dogs
Onset of toxicity symptoms will vary depending on how much your dog consumes.  

Symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Slowed pulse
  • Death

If you believe your dog has ingested or chewed a piece of this plant, treat it as a medical emergency and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.  This plant can grow between 2 to 5 feet tall and can multiply easily.  The entire foxglove plant is considered toxic when ingested.  Foxglove has naturally occurring toxins that affect the heart.  These are called cardenolides of bufadienolides, also known as cardiac glycoside toxins (digoxin-a cardiac medication, derived from cardiac glycosides, is used in veterinary medicine).  This medication is used in patients with heart failure to help their heart beat stronger and to regulate the rhythm.  In a healthy pet, use of this medication only makes matters worse and causes cardiac issues to manifest in the patient.  There is no antidote for foxglove poisoning; supportive therapy will be the course of treatment.  The amount of Foxglove your pet has ingested will determine the amount of treatment and/if recovery.

Upon finding these plants are toxic to animals, I tore all four plants out and threw them away.  It was money wasted but I would never take a chance like that.  I had planned on putting these around the yard but had to re-think my design.  I went and bought Hostas and pines to fill the empty spots these highly toxic plants left behind.  Again, Foxglove are beautiful and range in different colors but we get to many wild animals and a stray dog or cat every once in awhile, it is just not worth it to me.  

I was at a family function this weekend and was talking about my “ordeal” with this plant and someone mentioned that ALL flowers are toxic to animals.  I don’t know about that; probably MANY are.  I’ll just have do my research and let you know as I go along.  After our day in the yard, we enjoyed a glass of wine on the porch with Jake and Maggie by our side.  See below.  I hope this article was helpful to you.

“Had to have a glass of wine from Breitenbach Winery to de-stress from all of my planting and landscaping”.  Well, not really, I just wanted a glass of wine on our patio and enjoying a relaxing evening with Thomas, Jake and Maggie”. 

“Looks like Jake felt the same way”. “Look at him sleeping on his daddy.  Too cute!”

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