The birch tree is a member of the Betulaceae family, which is made up of deciduous shrubs and trees that are found in many areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Birch wood is often used for furniture and flooring and grown as an ornamental tree.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture lists birch wood as a toxic wood. Humans that ingest birch wood or part of the birch tree can experience symptoms of toxicity ranging from mild abdominal cramps to serious heart-related conditions. According to the USDA Forest Service Center for Wood Anatomy Research, birch wood is also associated with dermatitis in humans.
Ingestion of birch wood or parts of birch trees -- such as the paper birch and the European white birch tree -- will not cause symptoms of toxicity in animals. According to North Dakota State University, these trees are common sources of food for fur-bearing animals, game animals and hoofed animals that eat the buds, twigs and foliage. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that the European white birch tree will not cause symptoms associated with plant poisoning in domestic animals such as dogs and cats. However, it may cause gastrointestinal symptoms that are mild.
Ingestion of any plant may result in undesirable symptoms in humans and animals. The severity of symptoms is generally determined by the amount of the plant consumed. Any human or animal that has an adverse reaction from plant or wood consumption should visit their doctor or veterinarian.