Peonies are very popular in the local gardens. Because the large, graceful bloom in many bright colors appears in May and is a decorative eye-catcher in the spring bed. The rest of the year, however, the plant is rather inconspicuous. However, the large, green leaves tempt pets such as dogs and cats to nibble, which could be dangerous for the four-legged friends, as all parts of the peony are considered poisonous.

Toxicity of Peonies

Paeonia, although the decorative plants do not look like it, are poisonous in all parts. The plants contain the alkaloid paeonin, which is dangerous for humans and animals. However, it also depends on the amount consumed. An adult can consume far more of the plant than a small child or pet. Therefore, the peonies should always be viewed with caution if dogs and cats are in the household as well as children. The peony mainly contains the following toxic substances:

  • Alkaloid
  • Glycosides
  • Paenoflorin
  • Pilgrimage

The poison is said to be found in the petals and seeds. In the case of roots and leaves, even the experts are not sure whether they also contain substances that are hazardous to health. Therefore, you should always play it safe and no part of the peony should be consumed just like that.

Dangerous for dogs and cats

The smaller the dog or cat, the less weight the animals put on the scales, the more dangerous it is when the animals nibble on the peony. You should be particularly careful when the animals are very young and small. There are several reasons for this:

  • Dogs and kittens like to nibble
  • also on the leaves of plants
  • are very curious
  • still have little upbringing
  • adult animals look for blades of grass
  • might be attracted to peony leaves
Tip: If peonies were grown in an animal household with a garden, then they should be fenced off so that dogs or cats cannot get near them. This is of course easier with dogs, as cats jump over fences too. Here special plants can be planted as neighbors, the smell of which the animals do not like and therefore avoid.


If the dog or cat has nibbled on the leaves or flowers of the Paeonia and got part of the poison in the stomach, this quickly shows up in various symptoms. These look like this on a pet:

  • increased salivation
  • cramps
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Disorienting
  • Apathy
Note: If the consumption of the Paeonia leads to increased nausea in a cat, the poison contained in the peonies is highly toxic for dogs, even in small quantities, and is therefore particularly dangerous.

First aid measures

If it is found that the cat or dog has nibbled on the peony, the first measures should be taken immediately. No attempt should be made to make the animal vomit. If the first symptoms mentioned above appear, you should definitely remain calm so as not to worry the nervous animal further. The first aid measures are as follows:

  • speak calmly to the animal
  • don’t panic yourself
  • examine the mouth for leaf remains
  • remove and secure them
  • This allows the veterinarian to better determine the poison
  • Take the animal to the vet immediately

Trying to help the pet yourself is not a good option in this case. Veterinary help is required here, even if only a small amount of poison has been absorbed.


Dog and cat owners should definitely think about the dangerousness of peonies for these animals before cultivation. Even if it is a very decorative plant in a near-natural farmer’s garden, it should not be used with a cat in your own household or an outdoor cat in the neighbor’s garden. If the cat is not outdoors, at least one should refrain from bringing the Paeonia into the house as cut flowers in a vase. In the case of dogs in the household, on the other hand, preventive measures can be made as follows:

  • Enclose the plant well
  • Set up the fence far enough from the peony
  • otherwise the dog can still get at it with its snout
  • Build a fence or wall high enough
  • the bigger the dog, the higher
  • Place cut flowers in the vase as high as possible
Tip: The plant only passes on its poison ingested orally, i.e. when ingested through the mouth. Therefore, you do not need to take any special protective measures when cutting or doing other work with the peony.

Paeonia as a medicinal plant

Those who are familiar can even use the peony as a medicinal plant. However, this only applies to adults, not children and pets. The seeds, roots and petals have been used in medicine for several hundred years and are said to help against gout as well as intestinal problems and seizures.

Peonies are hardly poisonous for adults because they usually do not consume a high dose. On the contrary, if used correctly it is actually a medicinal plant. However, this is different with pets. Cats can develop symptoms by nibbling on the poisonous parts of the plant, which require a trip to the vet. For dogs, the graceful plants are even considered highly toxic and therefore dangerous. Due to their size, all rodents such as rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals living in the household are particularly endangered by the Paeonia.

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