Are Boxwoods Poisonous

From formal manicured gardens, to cul-de-sac neighborhoods, Boxwood is a very common and popular evergreen shrub throughout North America. Some gardeners may not know that this popular plant is poisonous to both humans and animals. If you currently have boxwood in your garden or are planning to plant Boxwood, it is important to know that all parts of the plant are toxic. The leaves and sap are especially due to its steroidal alkaloid.

Are Boxwood Poisonous to Children?

Boxwood, if ingested, is poisonous to children but is very rarely known to be fatal. If ingested, it can cause dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases spasms and respiratory failure. Skin irritation can occur from contact with the plant. It is important to teach children to ask before picking any plant material. Knowing what is and is not harmful in your garden is important for the safety of your children. If skin contact has occurred, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and monitor the irritation. If you believe someone has ingested Boxwood, contact your poison control hotline and your local doctor.

Are Boxwood Poisonous to Dogs?

Boxwood, if ingested, is poisonous to dogs. The Alkaloids in the plant are what cause issues. However, dogs very rarely will eat enough of the plant to cause any problems. Some symptoms of boxwood poisoning in dogs are vomiting and diarrhea. 


Are Boxwood Poisonous to Cats

Boxwood, if ingested, is poisonous to cats. The same symptoms for dogs will happen for cats, with vomiting and diarrhea being the most common. A large amount of leaves would have to be eaten in order for these side effects to happen to cats in most cases.


Are Boxwood Poisonous to Other Animals?

Boxwood is poisonous to horses if ingested. Boxwood is harmful to chickens, goats and other animals as well. 

Symptoms of Boxwood Poisoning

Always check with your doctor or veterinarian for guidance if you suspect Boxwood poisoning. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Skin Irritation or Rash
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions
  • Respiratory Failure (in extreme cases)

To prevent anything bad from happening in the first place, you can use physical barriers such as decorative fencing to prevent children or animals from getting too close for a taste. Dogs and cats can sometimes suffer from a nutrient deficiency if they continually gnaw on certain things so it might be time for a thorough check up from your vet to check on your pet’s health. There are also animal deterrent products on the market that can help prevent animals from chewing on plants.

Pet Poison Helpline

If something were to happen to your furry friend, and you suspect that they are suffering from Boxwood poisoning, there is a poison control hotline to call for 24/7 vet advice. It is called Pet Poison Hotline, and their phone number is (855) 764-7661.

Click here for a complete list of Pet Safe Plants.


"Boxwood." American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"How Safe are Boxwood Plants?" Poison Control - National Capital Poison Center.

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 Author Katie Endicott - Published 9-28-2021

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