Ferns are an enduring favorite of budding botanists the world over: they’re low-maintenance, they’re highly adaptable to various spaces, and they make a dramatic statement both indoors and in the garden. Best of all? Most true ferns are considered non-toxic to dogs, according to the ASPCA.
Even so, dog owners should exercise caution when it comes to bringing ferns into their homes. While the majority of ferns are harmless to dogs, ingesting too much of any foreign plant matter can wreak havoc on your pup’s system.
Because dogs are curious nibblers by nature, it’s important for dog owners to understand the potential dangers of various plants. Let’s take a closer look at how ferns can affect our dogs.
Are Ferns Poisonous To Dogs?
Thankfully, true ferns are generally safe to grow in a home with dogs. If your pup can’t resist taking a tiny bite of your potted Boston fern, he’s unlikely to suffer serious side effects.
According to the ASPCA, true ferns that are considered non-toxic to dogs include:
- Sword fern
- Button fern
- Mother fern
- Carrot fern
- Staghorn fern
- Rabbit’s foot fern
- Button fern
- Bird’s nest fern
Keep in mind that while these ferns aren’t considered poisonous to dogs, ingesting high amounts of any plant can cause an unpleasant reaction. If your curious pooch nibbles excessively on a fern he’ll probably wind up with a sour stomach. In most cases, symptoms won’t be severe enough to require medical attention.
Asparagus ferns (aka emerald ferns, sprengeri ferns, foxtail ferns, and lace ferns) are another story altogether. Technically, these feathery plants don’t belong to the true fern family, but they’re still worth mentioning here due to their toxic foliage. Dog owners should keep these plants out of reach as they’re highly toxic to both cats and dogs.
The leaves and berries of the asparagus fern are poisonous, and they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain if your dog ingests them. With repeated exposure, skin inflammation can also occur.
What Are The signs Of Fern Poisoning in dogs?
To keep your dog safe, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the common signs of poisoning in dogs. Symptoms of asparagus poisoning can range from mild to severe. Watch for the following side effect:
- Stomach pain
If your dog rubs up against the plant’s leaves, it can also cause swelling, inflammation, and blisters on the skin.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Eaten A Fern
If your dog has recently snacked on a true fern plant, there’s no need to panic. Unless he helped himself to a particularly greedy serving, it’s unlikely he’ll experience an adverse reaction.
If, however, your dog munches on a toxic asparagus fern, you should contact your vet for advice. If you’re able, bring a sample of the plant to the clinic to confirm its toxicity. A quick snapshot on your phone can also be helpful.
When you bring your dog into the clinic, your vet may induce vomiting to eliminate the toxins. He or she may also administer activated charcoal to move the toxins along your dog’s digestive tract. To combat dehydration caused by excessive vomiting or diarrhea, your vet may also administer intravenous fluids.
What Should I Do If I Have Ferns In My Home Or Garden?
Even though true ferns aren’t considered toxic to dogs, the ASPCA urges dog owners to keep their pets from nibbling on any houseplants—regardless of toxicity. That’s not to say you need to yank every plant from your home or garden. It just means you need to be smart about where you place your plants.
Luckily, ferns lend themselves to hanging planters. Breathe life into a dull room by placing hanging baskets throughout your space, making sure the plants are always out of your dog’s reach. A vibrant fern can also look right at home on a high shelf, away from curious sniffers.
Hands down, the easiest way to ensure your dog doesn’t eat a toxic plant: don’t bring a toxic plant into your home! If you grown asparagus fern in your garden, consider replacing it will a more dog-friendly plant, like dill or marigolds.
Additional Plants That Are Safe For Dogs
It’s important for dog owners to know which plants are safe for dogs and which ones are off the table. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to introduce greenery into your home without compromising your dog’s safety. Spruce up your space with one or more of the following dog-friendly plants:
- Money tree
- Spider plant
- Areca palm
- Friendship plant
- Polka dot plant
- Mosaic plant
- Ponytail palm
In the end, it’s our duty as dog owners to keep our furry pals out of harm’s way. Creating an environment that’s free from dangerous plants and other toxins is a great way to do just that. To learn more about plant toxicity and dogs, check out Rover’s comprehensive database of poisonous plants to dogs and cats.