Tulip bulbs & dogs

Written by rachel wion
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Tulip bulbs & dogs
Tulips bulbs are toxic to dogs. (red and yellow tulips image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com)

Dogs love to dig in the flower beds. It is one of the things they do best. But when there are tulips bulbs waiting to be dug up for the season, it can be very dangerous. Tulip bulbs are toxic to dogs and can make them extremely ill.

Tastes like Whiskey

It is such a contradiction that something so beautiful can be so dangerous, but Mother Nature has given tulip bulbs a nasty dose of allergenic lactones that taste a bit like whiskey. This is probably a good reason not to let dogs develop a taste for alcoholic beverages, and definitely a valid reason to discourage digging in the yard. Either way, it is wise to supervise dogs no matter what they are doing.


Dr. Karen Becker, a veterinarian on MercolaHealthyPets.com, states that the leaves and flowers of tulips are not poison, but the bulbs can cause dogs to have mouth and throat irritation. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling. The last may be a little difficult to spot in a dog that is already a heavy drooler, so watch for changes in drooling patterns. Heart rate and breathing are also affected, but usually only occur when dogs eat large quantities.


Veterinarians Justine Lee and Erica Cargill report in an article posted on DMV 360 that there is no antidote for allergenic lactone poisoning, but symptoms can be relieved by rinsing the dog’s mouth, giving IV fluids and administering medication to stop vomiting. Dogs showing these symptoms should be taken to a veterinarian immediately as death is possible if not treated.

Avoid Contact

The easiest way to keep dogs from experiencing this trauma is to keep them away from the bulbs. Ideally, bulbs should be removed from the ground after their growing season and let dry before replanting each year. If this is done, the bulbs should be kept in an area that dogs cannot reach. Before the bulbs are dug up, keep dogs out of that area of the flower bed to reduce risk.

Why Dogs Dig

It is natural for dogs to dig in dirt. Robin Tierney states in Garden Tips for Dog People that many of them do so because of breed traits, especially terriers that are bred to tunnel and hunt rodents underground. Others dig for exercise, fun, boredom, escape routes, a cool place to lie in the dirt and to bury treasures. Dogs can be taught not to dig, but it goes against instinct, and training is sometimes overridden by the need to do simply what dogs do. Regardless of the reason, dogs enjoy digging, so responsible pet owners should remove temptation where possible.

Enjoying the Garden Safely

While raising dogs and enjoying gardening are two things that are often at cross purposes with each other, both can be accomplished with a good education for both pet and gardener. Training for both must start early and be reinforced continually. Taking the dog to obedience school and learning why dogs do the things they do helps a gardener keep the dog in line so the garden always looks good. And learning which plants can harm pets and how they should be handled helps keep the dog safe and healthy to enjoy the garden.

Tulip bulbs & dogs
Dogs can spend time in the garden safely. (dog image by Marek Sieminski from Fotolia.com)

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