Are Magnolia Trees Poisonous to Dogs or Cats?

by Rob Hainer, Demand Media
    Ingesting a few magnolia petals shouldn't hurt your pet.

    Ingesting a few magnolia petals shouldn't hurt your pet.

    You don't have to pick between either your magnolia tree's waxy evergreen leaves and fragrant blooms or your cat and dog -- the magnolia tree isn't known for being toxic to animals. That doesn't mean you should add magnolia to your pet's diet, but a few chomps shouldn't sicken him.

    A Magnolia Is a Magnolia

    Whatever your dog is -- a Maltese or a mastiff or a mongrel -- it shares similar characteristics with other breeds. The same is true of magnolias. There are nearly 80 varieties of magnolias, including the southern magnolia that can reach 80 feet tall, the dwarf southern magnolia that only grows about a third of the size of its full-size counterpart, and the star magnolia tree that gets between 15 and 25 feet high. Depending on how you prune the star magnolia tree, it can live as a large bush as well. The height of the magnolia, the leaf size and bloom color might vary, but the overall characteristics -- including the toxicity -- are the same.

    Is It Safe?

    Thankfully, magnolias are not known to be poisonous to cats, dogs or other animals. If your kitty likes to climb into the branches every now and then to chew on the bark or bat at the blooms, he should suffer no ill effects. A pooch who entertains himself by bringing you every fallen magnolia seed pod should stay as healthy as a horse -- horses, by the way, aren't sensitive to magnolias, either.

    Potential Problems

    Even though a magnolia tree is not technically poisonous to dogs or cats, it's not part of their typical diet. Eating parts of a magnolia tree can lead to problems if your furry friend ingests too much. It's likely to take a lot of magnolia eating to become a problem, but if your pet likes to imbibe regularly on the fallen leaves, blooms or bark, watch for signs of vomiting, diarrhea or sudden lack of appetite. Call your vet if you observe these symptoms. His advice will probably be to make your pet lay off the magnolia for a few days, but it's best to check with him just in case the symptoms become severe.

    Chemicals

    While occasional ingestion of magnolias might not be a problem for your pet, eating leaves or twigs covered in chemicals can be an issue. Don't let your pet near the tree if you recently treated it with fertilizer or pesticide or if you treated the ground under the tree with herbicide. It doesn't take much to make your small dog or cat sick, so it's best to avoid the area for a couple of days or until the rain washes the chemicals off the fallen leaves, twigs, blooms and seed pods.

    About the Author

    Rob Hainer began writing and editing for newspapers in 1992. He began his career as a photojournalist in the Army, and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He worked as a copy editor and reporter at "The Marietta Daily Journal," the "Spartanburg Herald-Journal" and the "New Haven Register."

    Photo Credits

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