Are Buckthorn Berries Poisonous to Dogs? [Guide]

Buckthorn berries are a special type of fruit that grows on different varieties of the Rhamnus Genus Plant, Including the following:

These berries are sometimes used in natural medicines to treat various gastrointestinal problems such as constipation. However, there are some concerns about whether or not buckthorn berries are dangerous or even toxic to dogs.

dog sniffing buckthorn berries

Toxicity of Buckthorn Berries to Dogs

Yes, Buckthorn berries are poisonous to dogs, and ingestion will result in severe vomiting and diarrhea. The problem with Buckthorn Berries is that they contain Anthraquinones.

Anthraquinones are compounds that occur naturally in some plants including buckthorn berries. It’s these compounds that irritate the lining of the digestive tract in dogs and cause a wide variety of horrible symptoms such as pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Anthraquinones are known for their laxative effect which can cause excessive stimulation of the bowl and dehydration. In severe cases, ingestion of anthraquinones can leave to serious problems including bloody diarrhea and even death. 

Studies About Buckthorn Berries and Dogs

A Study in 2005 reported that the ingestion of buckthorn berries resulted in server vomiting and diarrhea, the dog involved needed treatment and supportive care including fluid therapy and antiemetic medication. Afterward, the dog made a full recovery. 

Source: Smith, P. A., & Hackett, T. B. (2005). Rhamnus cathartica (buckthorn) toxicosis in a dog. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 17(6), 597-599.

Another study published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics in 2010 investigated the toxicity of various plant species, including the common buckthorn, in dogs. The study found that the anthraquinones in buckthorn berries were indeed toxic to dogs, causing gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.

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Comparison of Different Types of Buckthorn Plants

Whilst all species of buckthorn are toxic to dogs, the common buckthorn is known to be the most toxic followed by the glossy buckthorn. Ingestion of the common buckthorn berries can cause extreme vomiting and diarrhea whilst the glossy buckthorn is thought to have less severe symptoms.

The alder buckthorn is less common than the other two types but still contains anthraquinones that are toxic to dogs.

Preventing Ingestion of Buckthorn Berries and Plants

To prevent your dog from consuming buckthorn berries it’s important to keep your dog away from areas where you know these plants grow. If you have buckthorn berries on your property it might be a good idea to remove them and replace them with something else which is non-toxic. If you suspect that your dog has ingested buckthorn berries or plants we recommend you contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible for advice.

buckthorn berries with a warning sign

The severity of symptoms is usually closely related to the amount digested and the overall size of the dog. A small amount is unlikely to cause too many issues whilst a large amount could have serious consequences. 


In conclusion, buckthorn berries are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Common buckthorn is known to be more toxic than glossy buckthorn, but ingestion of either type can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and other toxic effects. It is important to keep your pets away from areas where these plants grow and to seek veterinary care if ingestion occurs.

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