It’s that time of year again! We finally get to set up our veggie gardens and plant beautiful flowers. The gloom of winter has passed, and we’re almost through the rainy season. It’s all uphill from here!
For pup parents, who are also avid gardeners, the gardening seasons can be stressful. Many plants are harmful to dogs, and it’s our responsibility to make sure they don’t accidentally eat them. This can be tough, because not all dogs are bright enough to stay away from toxic plants. I recently encountered this when my dogs decided to munch on a rhubarb plant growing in my back yard.
We have recently moved to a new home, where rhubarb is growing abundantly. Not knowing it was harmful, I’ve been watering it, and making plans for a tasty pie. I decided to search “rhubarb and dogs” on the internet, to see if I could feed it to them as a treat. What I discovered was that my dogs have been poisoning themselves with toxins that could cause liver and kidney failure.
My partner and I immediately ran outside with rakes and shovels, and tore all the plants up. This prompted us to research other toxic garden plants.
Here’s what we found.
Unsafe and Toxic Plants for Dogs
Avocado is considered unsafe for dogs, as it contains a toxin called persin. Avocado flesh is known to cause stomach upset in dogs, like vomiting or diarrhea, and the pit can cause major bowel obstruction. Many dogs, who have swallowed an avocado pit, have to undergo surgery to have the pit removed.
Though aloe vera has many healing qualities for humans, the sap of the aloe vera plant is considered toxic to dogs. If ingested, the toxins can cause extreme vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, muscle spasms, and discolored urine. It is advised that aloe be kept far away from dogs, and they should be taken to the nearest veterinary hospital if aloe has been ingested.
Eggplant, a nightshade related closely to the tomato, contains high levels of oxalate. Oxalate is a chemical that can worsen existing kidney issues in dogs, and can cause kidney failure if large quantities are ingested. If your dog is healthy, with no signs of kidney complications, eating eggplant may not have any side effects. However, it is advised that parents monitor their dog while eating eggplant, and only provide them with small amounts at a time. Eggplant is a common allergen in humans, cats, and dogs.
Some species of mushrooms are known to contain harmful toxins for humans and animals. These five are the most commonly found: Fly Agaric, Jewelled Death Cap, Death Cap, Elf’s Saddle, and Autumn Galerina. Dogs can have negative reactions to regular household mushrooms as well, and it is advised that dogs be kept away from them. Mild mushroom poisoning can cause vomiting and diarrhea, while moderate to extreme cases can cause kidney and liver failure, or death.
Nutmeg is incredibly toxic to dogs, and should be kept far away from them at all times. The toxins in nutmeg cause seizures and even death. If you believe your dog has eaten nutmeg, take them to the vet immediately!
Though baked potatoes can be a good snack for your pup, raw potatoes can cause some harm. Raw potatoes can cause gastrointestinal issues, as well as stomach or bowel obstruction if not chewed properly. If you have potatoes growing in your garden, keep a close eye on your dog to make sure he doesn’t swallow any whole.
Ripe tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins for your pup, and can be a sweet treat for health conscious parents. However, unripe or green tomatoes are more harmful than good. Unripe tomatoes contain solanine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, and confusion. The roots, stems, and leaves of the tomato plant are also harmful.
Rhubarb is highly toxic for dogs and should be removed if growing on the same property. The leaves are large and appealing to dogs, while the stalks smell sweet. Rhubarb contains high levels of oxalate crystals which cause kidney and liver failure in dogs. Rhubarb is considered one of the most toxic plants for dogs, and it is recommended that the Pet Poison Helpline be called if your dog has eaten some.
Onions, raw, cooked, or mixed with other foods, can be potentially fatal to dogs. Each dog will be affected differently by onions, meaning one cup could kill a 100lb dog while one cup might not affect a 10lb dog. Regardless of the dose, onion is one of the most toxic plants for dogs, and is also commonly found in households. Onion toxicity causes anemia, where sometimes the only cure is a life-saving blood transfusion. Many dogs die from onion toxicosis each year.
Though there is much controversy around feeding garlic to dogs, it is advised that this food be omitted from their diet. Garlic can cause the same complications as onions in dogs (see previous point), and can lead to fatality. Many veterinarians lump onions and garlic into the same category of toxicity, and suggest taking your dog to the nearest veterinarian if your dog has eaten garlic.
We also advise that any bulbs of plants are toxic to dogs, and dogs should be discouraged from eating stocks and roots as well.