Iris Flower Close up

Iris plants produce beautiful flowers that are popular in gardens. This perennial plant is also known as a snake lily, bearded iris, or water flag. The bearded iris is commonly seen in household gardens. These flowers have a pleasing scent that is enjoyed by many.

If you enjoy irises in your garden and have a dog, you may be wondering if irises are poisonous to dogs. According to the ASPCA, yes, irises are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Toxicity in Irises

Irises are toxic to dogs because they contain compounds called resinous purgative irisin and cytotoxic terpenoids. These toxins disrupt normal cell function and eventually lead to cell death. If a dog eats these compounds, which are found in the stem, leaves, rhizomes, and petals, they could become very sick. While these plants are toxic to dogs and can cause illness, the good news is that the poisoning is usually mild to moderate. Some dogs may not show any symptoms of illness after eating an iris, but others will show varying degrees of poisoning. These toxins also cause skin irritation if dogs come in contact with them.

Symptoms of iris poisoning include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Eye or skin irritation
  • Burn-like sores on or around the lips
  • Blood in vomit or stool

If your dog has eaten iris plants or even part of an iris, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Take your dog to the vet immediately. Even if symptoms don’t develop and your dog doesn’t get sick, quick treatment is the best way to ensure that your dog makes a full recovery.

The vet will examine your dog and assess any symptoms. Blood work will likely be run to check your dog’s blood count and determine if their organs are functioning correctly. If your dog is displaying any symptoms, they will be treated. Medication can be administered to reduce vomiting and diarrhea. Activated charcoal will likely be given to your dog to absorb any remaining toxins in the body. If your dog is dehydrated, they will be treated with fluids and electrolytes.

iris flower
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Can Dogs Recover From Iris Poisoning?

The severity of iris poisoning in your dog depends on how much they consumed. The chances are good for dogs to recover from iris poisoning if they receive prompt medical treatment. Prolonging treatment or not seeking it at all reduces the chances of the dog’s recovery.

Iris poisoning can damage gastrointestinal tracts and make it impossible for dogs to absorb any nutrients from their food. Over time, the digestive tract could die. The only treatment for this, if the dog is still alive, is to surgically remove the necrotic digestive section.

Dogs may need to be hospitalized to properly treat their illness and remain there until they are no longer symptomatic. If you suspect that your dog has eaten an iris, don’t wait to find out for sure. Bring them to the vet for a full exam. Even if they didn’t eat the plant, it’s better to be on the safe side.


Irises are toxic to dogs. If they eat this plant, you should bring them to the vet right away for an examination and if necessary, treatment. If you plant irises around your house, use garden fencing as a barrier to keep your dog away from them or plant them in an area that your dog can’t access, like the front yard. If your dog eats an iris, quick veterinary treatment will increase their chances of making a full recovery.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay