The word "geranium" is the common name for plants of the Pelargonium genus. The geranium category encompasses over 200 plant types. Known for their hardiness and ease of growth, these plants are a common choice for gardeners who want colorful flowers. But according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), you may want to reconsider your flower choice if you have a canine companion because geraniums are toxic to dogs. The side effects can range from mild to moderately severe but are uncomfortable should your dog decide to ingest these blooming beauties. If you suspect your dog has eaten your geraniums, seek the advice of a veterinary care professional.
Geraniums contain two distinct types of terpene alcohols: geraniol and linalool. Terpenes are very much like the turpentine used as a paint thinner. When exposed to stomach acid, these terpenes undergo a volatile chemical reaction. This chemical reaction can cause your dog to become nauseated and eventually vomit. Vomiting is a cause for concern not only because of the discomfort it causes, but because your dog may aspirate, or breathe in, the vomit and choke. The astringent nature of terpenes also means that the vomit caused by these chemicals can burn the delicate lining of your dog's throat.
Anorexia in this context is defined as a distinct loss of appetite. Upon ingesting geraniums, your dog may experience an extreme inability or lack of desire to eat food. This, coupled with vomiting, may lead to a lack of adequate nutrition if left untreated. Dogs who experience a lack of appetite due to the ingestion of geraniums should not be coaxed to eat unless advised to do so under the care of a licensed veterinary professional.
People feel a little blue sometimes, but depression associated with the ingestion of geraniums is nothing to seek psychiatric care for. When your dog's essential bodily functions slow, this is termed as depression. Your dog may seem lethargic and have a lack of energy. She may have a decreased desire to walk around or play, and may need to defecate and urinate less than usual. In a study conducted by the T. Hasegawa Company, animals who were exposed to the active chemical linalool were found to have decreased levels of several chemicals in their body, leading to a calm and sedate manner.
As if the side effects of eating geraniums weren't bad enough, your dog may be allergic to geraniol and linalool when it comes into contact with his skin. These oils are powerful irritants that have been noted to cause itching and rashes to develop when tested on both humans and animals. This side effect is considerably less severe than the others, and can be treated by washing the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.