Is Bamboo Toxic to Animals?

With a cat and a dog in my household I worried about having bamboo in my garden but it turns out that despite me keeping them away from it (I’m trying to grow it, not have the dog destroy it!) it’s actually okay if they nibble it from time to time.

TLDR: ‘Real’ bamboo isn’t toxic to animals however plants sold as ‘lucky’ bamboo are. Read on to find out the difference.

We all know Pandas absolutely adore bamboo with a passion. 

They manage to scoff down between 26 and 84 pounds per DAY! (that’s 12-38kg) and eating occupies them for 12 hours out of 24.

Because what goes in must come out, Pandas produce around 10kg of green poop per day. One enterprising Chinese paper manufacturer actually recycles the panda poop, processing the fibres and creating toilet tissue with it!

You’re unlikely to have a panda to worry about but if you’re adding bamboo to your garden you might wonder if it poses any dangers to your pets, either from ingesting it, touching it or just chewing on it.

Let’s take a look, Is bamboo toxic to animals?

Is bamboo toxic to cats?

Real bamboo species, whether clumping (sympodial) or running (monopodial) species types, are all safe for cats to be around.

Unfortunately, some houseplants are sold as ‘lucky bamboo’ but despite the stems looking similar, it’s actually a completely different species called Dracaena sanderiana which can be harmful to cats and, if ingested, make them very unwell.

Real bamboo plants from the tribe Bambuseae, of which there are 91 different genera and 1,000 different species, pose no threat to cats.

In fact, cats can take quite a liking to the leaves of a fresh bamboo culm (stem) and can nibble will no ill effects.

Is bamboo toxic to dogs?

Just as with cats, real bamboo species are not harmful to dogs if touched or eaten, but is bamboo safe for dogs to chew on?

However, dogs are usually larger than cats and have much stronger jaw strength meaning that they are more likely to use larger stems of bamboo as chews.

So although allowing your dog to chew on a leaf isn’t harmful, ingesting large pieces of the bamboo stem may go towards causing blockages (just as large pieces of anything would).

So take care to remove any woody pieces that your dog may be playing with or chewing on. 

If they continue to break pieces of bamboo off of your plant you may need to consider relocating the bamboo plant, fencing it off or taking some time to train your puppy not to eat the plants!

And don’t forget that you can buy long lasting, eco friendly bamboo chews for your dogs now. Mine likes the salmon one 🙂

How to tell the difference between lucky bamboo plants and real bamboo plants.

The easiest way to tell the difference between real bamboo plants and lucky bamboo is by looking at their stems. Real bamboo plants have thick, woody stems with nodes and leaves growing out of them.

Lucky bamboo, on the other hand, has thin, straight stems with no nodes or leaves. Additionally, lucky bamboo is often sold as a small potted plant with a few stems, whereas real bamboo plants can grow quite tall and are often sold as outdoor plants.

If ever you’re not sure, don’t risk it. Make sure you’re 100% certain.

Can rabbits have bamboo?

Real bamboo from the Bambuseae group of plants is all perfectly safe for your rabbit to gnaw on.

Rabbits have teeth which continually grow and need something hard to gnaw on to grind them down and ensure they don’t overgrow and cause problems.

Bamboo is harder than wood, so although it won’t provide the same amount of fibre that wood does, it will grind down those teeth faster.

Be careful with the quantities fed though, bamboo stems contain starch and sugars primarily so ensure they are an occasional treat or adjust their diet according to take it into account. 

Is bamboo aquarium safe?

Bamboo looks amazing and can come in some stunning shapes and colors and it’s tempting to add it to your aquarium set-up.

Unfortunately, bamboo is not an aquatic plant and will rot if left in water.

The plant known as ‘lucky bamboo’ is actually called Dracaena sanderiana and will do very well in an aquatic environment and will not harm your fish.

Is bamboo toxic for horses?

Proper Bambuseae species bamboo is non-toxic if ingested by horses however anything in large quantities can cause issues. So your horses can happily nibble on some bamboo leaves but the chances are they’ll choose to graze elsewhere.

Horses when left in areas with bamboo tend only to nibble at the shoots and much prefer other grazing options if available.

Is bamboo good for chameleons?

Having a bamboo stem in a chameleon’s tank will not cause it any harm but, just as with other pets, the very different species of ‘lucky bamboo’ is certainly one to avoid. 

More information can be seen at the pet poison helpline website.

What’s the best bamboo for goats to eat?

Once again, as long as it’s a true bamboo from the Bambuseae family then it’s safe for your goats to eat.

Goats love a bamboo leaf so be sure to protect new plants and new shoots until they’re firmly established otherwise your bamboo will be gone before it’s started!

What’s the best bamboo for hermit crabs?

Regular bamboo, not lucky bamboo (it contains oxalic acid which messes with their exoskeletons) is fine for your hermit crabs.

Not only will they enjoy climbing on it and hiding under it but they also like a nibble for nutrition and recreation.

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