Male fern is toxic for dogs

Dryopteris filix-mas toxic

The male fern loves shady places in forests, but is also found in gardens and parks. The male fern grows to about one metre high. Like almost all ferns, it has green, funnel-shaped leaves that are pinnate and stand in a rosette. The leaf margins are usually not curled and small, semicircular spores can be found on the underside of the leaves.

The entire male fern is poisonous, but especially the rhizome, the stems of the leaves and the young shoots. They have the highest content of poison in the summer months.

Male fern: underside of leaf with small curled spores

What should I do if my dog ate Male fern?

How toxic is Male fern?

Toxicity:toxic (toxic)
Toxic parts:The entire male fern is poisonous, but especially the rhizome, the stems of the leaves and the young shoots.
Toxic time:winter, spring, summer, autumn
If your dog shows symptoms of poisoning, it is always an emergency! Time is critical for your dog's life. You should immediately call your vet or the animal emergency services and make sure that a vet is on site and then go there immediately. For the treatment, it helps the vet a lot to know what your dog has ingested.

Occurrence Male fern

Plant species:fern
Occurrence:Gardens, Parks, Forests
Flowering time:-
Fruit ripening:summer, autumn


The following symptoms may occur in case of poisoning with the common male fern:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea (possibly bloody)
  • exhaustion
  • apathy
  • muscle cramps
  • movement disorders
  • tremors
  • there may be blood in the urine
  • death may occur due to respiratory paralysis


The vet will always try to remove the ingested poison from the body and alleviate the specific symptoms of poisoning.

There are different methods to remove the poison from the body:

1. ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: Activated charcoal can absorb toxins. If possible, it should be administered within 2 hours after ingestion of the poison, so that the toxin does not enter the bloodstream.
2. LAXATIVES: The vet may combine the administration of activated charcoal with a laxative.
3. VOMITING: The vet can also induce vomiting using medication to remove the toxin from the body. 

To alleviate the symptoms, the vet can give infusions or also administer vitamin B1 as an antidote.

More information on dog poisonings can be found here: 

Preventing, identifying and treating poisoning in dogs


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