Is Bamboo Poisonous to Puppies if They Chew on It?

by Betty Lewis
    Chew toys help pups engage their chewing behavior safely.

    Chew toys help pups engage their chewing behavior safely.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Dexter's still a puppy, so he's probably chewing just about everything -- sticks found in the yard, shoes from your closet and maybe even a dog toy. Puppies chew to help their adult teeth break through. If you found Dexter gnawing on some of your bamboo, don't worry; it won't hurt him.

    Big or Small, Bamboo for All

    There are more than 100 species of bamboo, ranging from towering to petite in size. Most bamboos prefer tropical climates, but some hardy versions can survive temperatures below zero F. Low growing bamboo makes a nice ground cover and is great for controlling soil erosion; tall bamboo can act as a windbreak 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. Dexter may enjoy gnawing on a stray shoot.

    Heavenly Bamboo: Not Heavenly

    If you've heard bamboo could poison Dexter, it's likely in reference to heavenly bamboo, which isn't bamboo at all. Heavenly bamboo is a pretty, easy to care for shrub, popular in the Pacific Northwest. It's a semi-evergreen plant, changing colors with the season: moving 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 one to beware of; the ASPCA lists it as toxic to dogs and cats.

    Toxic Snack

    If Dexter makes his way into the heavenly bamboo and decides it's a good snack choice, he could become quite ill. The red berries contain cyanogenic glycosides, which can cause vomiting and stomachache; increased blood pressure, heart rate and temperature; respiratory failure; shock and dark red mucus membranes. Call your vet or the pet poison helpline if Dexter eats these poison berries; if he has seizures, has difficulty breathing or loses consciousness, he needs to see the vet immediately. If he ever eats something suspicious, take what he ate to the vet to assist in diagnosis and treatment.

    Do Chew

    It's a basic fact of life: puppies are going to chew. Some dogs will always gnaw on something, so it's smart to teach your pup what's appropriate for him to chew and what isn't. The safe choice is to discourage him from chewing on all plants, as it's hard to know exactly what's toxic and what isn't. As well, you don't want him chewing on your new shoes, though it does give you an excuse to buy more. Encourage Dexter to chew safely by providing him with appropriate chew toys. Avoid toys with small pieces, such as buttons or bells, that can break off easily and be ingested by Dexter. Look for toys that have a little give in them so his teeth don't break off if he chews exuberantly. The toy should be able to withstand his chewing; if he tears it to pieces, throw them away so he doesn't eat the bits.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master’s degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.

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