Most dogs love to chew, especially puppies who gnaw on anything and everything to help their adult teeth break through. If you found your dog chewing on the bamboo growing in your garden, don't worry; it won't hurt them. However, you may have heard that bamboo is toxic to dogs. Why the confusion? Because there is a plant, heavenly bamboo, commonly mistaken as being part of the bamboo family. You should keep your dog away from this plant.
Bamboo is safe for dogs
There are more than 1,400 species of bamboo, ranging from small to large in size. Most bamboos prefer tropical climates, but some hardy versions can survive temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
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Low-growing bamboo makes a nice ground cover and is great for controlling soil erosion. Tall bamboo can act as a windbreaker or a natural privacy screen. If you've chosen this rapid grower for your landscape, you can rest easy because the ASPCA lists bamboo as a plant that's non-toxic to dogs and cats. Your dog may enjoy gnawing on a stray shoot.
Heavenly bamboo is poisonous
If you've heard bamboo could poison your dog, it's likely in reference to "heavenly bamboo" or "sacred bamboo," which isn't bamboo at all. Heavenly bamboo is a pretty, easy-to-care-for shrub.
It's a semi-evergreen plant, changing colors with the seasons. It changes from a spring pink to light green in the summer to a bronze-purple shade in the fall to bright crimson in the winter. During its pink phase, it also sports pretty white blossoms, followed by red berries. Though it's a beautiful choice for your landscape, it's a plant to beware of; the ASPCA lists it as toxic to dogs and cats.
Gastrointestinal upset may occur if your dog ingests heavenly bamboo
If your dog eats a small amount of heavenly bamboo, they may experience minor gastrointestinal upset. More serious problems may occur if your dog eats a large amount of this plant. Your dog may experience more severe gastrointestinal distress and vomiting if they eat a large amount of heavenly bamboo. If your dog eats enough of the plant, they may even develop an obstruction because their body cannot digest it.
The ASPCA reports that other symptoms can occur as a result of ingesting heavenly bamboo, such as an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature and breathing difficulties. However, your dog would have to consume a very large amount of this plant in order for these symptoms to occur.
If you suspect your dog has ingested something they shouldn't, please contact a pet poison helpline or your veterinarian.
Things that are safe for dogs to chew
It's a basic fact of life: dogs and puppies are going to chew. Some dogs will always gnaw on something, so it's smart to teach your dog what's appropriate for them to chew and what isn't. The best thing to do is to discourage your dog from chewing on all plants as it's hard to know exactly what's toxic and what isn't.
Encourage your dog to chew on safe items by providing them with appropriate chew toys. Avoid toys with small pieces, such as buttons or bells that can break off easily and be swallowed. Look for toys that have a little give in them so your dog's teeth don't break off if they chew exuberantly. The toy should be able to withstand your dog's chewing; If your dog tears the toy up, throw away the pieces so they don't eat them.