There’s no denying that ruffled peony flowers are gorgeous. But before you plant some of these flowering bushes in your garden or bring a bouquet of peonies into your home, you should consider their toxicity. Stay with us we cover whether or not these flowers are safe for dogs, cats, and other animals.
About Peony Flowers
Peonies are perennial flowering shrubs that grow well throughout temperate climates. They produce lots of large, ruffled flowers in the late spring through early summer.
The flowers can be white, pink, red, purple, and various other colors. While the exact look can vary depending on the cultivar, most peonies have elegant ruffled petals.
There are around 30 different species of peonies and many more individual cultivars. However, all of these plants belong to the Paeoniaceae family and Paeonia genus.
Some peony species are native to North America, while others are native to Asia or Europe.
Along with being great additions to the garden, peonies can be enjoyed as cut flowers. If you harvest them at the right time and store them properly, you can expect peonies to last for about five days in a vase.
Are Peony Flowers Toxic to Animals?
According to the ASPCA, peony plants are toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.
Peony plants contain a substance called paeonol, which is concentrated in the plant’s bark. However, all parts of the peony plant have small amounts of paeonol.
While paeonol can have anti-inflammatory effects on humans when used appropriately, it can be toxic to animals. If dogs or cats ingest large enough quantities of paeonol, they may develop vomiting, diarrhea, and/or depression.
Therefore, you should do your best to keep your animals from ingesting any part of the peony plant.
For more, see our in-depth guide to popular flowers that are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets.
What to Do If Your Pet Eats Peony Flowers
If you realize your pet has eaten a peony flower or another part of the plant, remain calm. Try to determine how much of the plant they ate as well as which parts.
Keep a close eye on your pet and note any changes in behavior or signs of vomiting or diarrhea. While a bit of diarrhea or vomiting isn’t typically a considerable cause for concern, you should seek help if it becomes alarming.
When in doubt, contact your veterinarian for advice. They can provide you with information regarding how to provide your animal with care and also let you know if you should bring your pet in for help.
How to Keep Pets Away from Peonies
The best way to prevent your pet from eating peonies is to keep them away from the plants in the first place. However, this is sometimes easier said than done!
If you have a bouquet of cut peonies in your home, try placing the flowers out of your pets’ reach. Placing the flowers on a high table is typically a good plan for dogs.
If you have curious cats who always seem to be chewing on the latest green material you bring home, you may need to get a little creative. Placing flowers in a tall and thin vase may keep cats away.
Another option is to keep the flowers on display when you are around your cats. When you leave, you can tuck the flowers in a room or cabinet out of the cats’ reach.
A fence is typically the best way to keep the plants away from your pets when it comes to outdoor peony plants. You can also try planting peonies in a pot that is out of your pets’ reaches.
Pet-Safe Alternatives to Peonies
You have multiple options if you’re looking for gorgeous flowers that are safe for your cats and/or dogs.
If you’re looking for flowering shrubs that are safe for dogs and cats, you also have a fair number of options to choose from. Some pet-safe bushes include roses, hibiscus, and forsythia.
Keep Your Animals Safe
Unfortunately, peonies are toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. Therefore, you should exercise caution when bringing these plants around your furry friends.
For more, see our ultimate guide to growing peonies in your garden.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.