Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat a variety of foods, including vegetables. But just because dogs can eat veggies doesn't mean that they are all safe for your canine companion. Keep your pooch healthy by knowing what veggies should stay securely stowed in the fridge or pantry.
The basic rule of thumb is if a vegetable grows as an underground bulb, keep it out of Fido's bowl. Onions, chives and leeks contain a chemical that can break down your dog's red blood cells if he eats too many of them. In small quantities, these bulb veggies are usually harmless, but the best way to be safe is to avoid them altogether. Garlic contains the same chemical, but in smaller amounts. Some dog foods and treats contain very low doses of garlic, which are generally considered safe by most veterinarians and pet nutritionists. To be safe, never give your dog whole cloves of garlic or large quantities of garlic powder. If your dog eats any of these vegetables, he may develop anemia, which can be fatal if left untreated.
Potato and Tomato Leaves & Stems
Many high-quality dog foods use potatoes and tomatoes as ingredients. These two vegetables themselves are safe to eat, but the leaves and stems of the plants are very toxic to dogs. The green parts of the plants contain solanine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and confusion in dogs. If your dog sometimes visits your vegetable garden, be sure to limit his access to the tomato, potato and other nightshade plants, including bell pepper, eggplant and tomatillo.
Rhubarb pie is a tasty human treat, but rhubarb can be toxic for your canine friend. Like the stems and leaves of the nightshade plants, the leaves and stalk of the rhubarb are the toxic parts. Both the stalk and leaves contain oxalate crystals (although the leaves are more toxic), which deplete the calcium in the dog's body. Symptoms of rhubarb poisoning include drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors and bloody urine. In some severe cases, rhubarb poisoning can cause sudden renal failure.
Although not technically vegetables, mushrooms are often used as vegetables in cooking. Some mushrooms are safe for people to eat, while others will cause quite the stomach upset. For dogs, all mushrooms are on the unsafe list. Most often, mushrooms will cause stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, mushroom poisoning may lead to permanent liver or kidney damage or even death.
By Susan Leisure
About the Author
Susan Leisure is the director of an animal welfare organization and owner of a holistic pet supply store in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a master's degree from Emory University, and is currently completing a degree in clinical pet nutrition.