Are California Poppies Dangerous to Dogs?

Keep California poppies off Sparky's munchies list for good measure.
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Pretty and perky, California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) grow wild in the western United States. While there are no records indicating canine poisoning from California poppies, opinions differ regarding their potential danger to dogs. Because the jury is still out on this one, it’s probably best to keep Fluffy from eating California poppies. Safe is so much better than sorry.

Nontoxic Doesn't Mean Harmless

The California poppy is not named in toxic plant lists published by the ASPCA, the California Poison Control System, or the University of Texas at Austin. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s perfectly harmless -- just that the chances that it’s dangerous are low.

Consider the Possibilities

Conversely, a Doctors Foster and Smith website lists the California poppy as poisonous to dogs. A website called Plants for a Future advises that this plant is related to some pretty nasty characters, such as the common poppy or opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Members of the Papaver bunch contain poisonous alkaloids as well as morphine. North Carolina State University warns that ingestion of these substances can cause slow, shallow breathing resulting in depression of the circulatory system, stupor, coma and death.

You Can't Be Too Careful

If you think your dog has eaten California poppies, call your veterinarian immediately. She may recommend that you clear the material from your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. She will instruct you carefully, based on the dog‘s weight, age and breed. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear.