How poisonous are boxwoods?

Answered by James Kissner

Boxwoods, scientifically known as Buxus, are a common type of shrub that can be found in many gardens and landscapes. While they are generally safe for humans, it is important to note that they can be potentially toxic to certain animals such as dogs, cats, and horses.

Ingestion of boxwood by humans is rare, but in cases where large quantities are consumed, it can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms. These may include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is worth mentioning that the severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the amount ingested and the individual’s sensitivity.

It is important to note that boxwood contains alkaloids, specifically Buxine A and B, which are believed to be responsible for its potential toxicity. These alkaloids can irritate the gastrointestinal system and cause the aforementioned symptoms. However, it is worth noting that the concentration of these alkaloids in boxwood is relatively low, which is why severe poisoning in humans is uncommon.

On the other hand, animals, particularly small pets like dogs and cats, are more prone to experiencing adverse effects from boxwood ingestion. The alkaloids present in boxwood can affect their digestive system, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. In severe cases, it can potentially cause more serious complications, such as liver damage or respiratory distress.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested boxwood, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. They will be able to assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment options. Additionally, it is advisable to keep an eye on your pets when they are in the vicinity of boxwood shrubs to prevent accidental ingestion.

In general, it is always recommended to avoid ingesting any part of the boxwood shrub, especially for animals. While the risk of severe poisoning in humans is low, it is better to err on the side of caution and prevent any potential health issues. If you have children or pets, it may be wise to educate them about the potential dangers of consuming boxwood and keep a watchful eye on their activities around these plants.

To summarize, while boxwood is generally safe for humans, it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms if consumed in large quantities. However, it is more toxic to animals, particularly dogs, cats, and horses. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect ingestion in either humans or animals. Taking preventive measures and educating others about the potential risks can help ensure everyone’s safety.