Is a Citronella Plant Toxic to Dogs?

Like so many confusing monikers, citronella doesn't come from the citronella plant. The citronella plant, also called the mosquito plant, is actually a member of the geranium family. Grown as a mosquito repellent plant, this plant poses a risk to dogs.

Lemon grass
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sliced citronella plant


Lemon grass
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citronella plant

The citronella plant has deeply lobed, fern-like leaves that can resemble parsley. The plant blooms with small lavender flowers. It can grow up to 5 feet in height.


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citronella plant

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals cautions that all members of the geranium family, Pelargonium, are toxic to dogs. They contain the active toxins geraniol and linalool.


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lethargic dog

Dogs who come into contact with the citronella plant can experience skin irritation. Ingestion can result in lethargy, loss of appetite and diarrhea.


Young Female Veterinarian
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dog with veterinarian

Seek veterinary medical care immediately if you suspect your dog is suffering adverse effects from eating a citronella plant.

Elizabeth Tumbarello

Elizabeth Tumbarello

Elizabeth Tumbarello has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites. She is an animal lover who volunteers with her local Humane Society. Tumbarello attended Hocking College and is pursuing her Associate of Applied Science in veterinary technology from San Juan College.