Can Dogs Eat Rhubarb?
Rhubarb is a sweet vegetable (yes, it's a vegetable) that you should never give to dogs. We eat it with custard; dogs eat rhubarb with intense pain and irritation.
The entire plant contains soluble calcium oxalate crystals. Whilst it's mostly concentrated in the large leaves, when a dog eats any part of this vegetable, they will experience side effects, along with a nasty aftertaste.
Usually, because of this, dogs won't do more than taste the plant. If, however, they do eat the rhubarb, your dog will need an emergency visit to your vet. More so, if they eat a large quantity of the leaves or rhubarb stems.
- Blood in urine
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Dilated eyes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive drooling
- Hoarse barking
- Kidney failure
- Laboured breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness of exposed area
- Obstruction of the airway
- Pawing/rubbing at the face or mouth
- Swelling of the lips or tongue
Immediately after ingesting the calcium oxalate crystals, symptoms will develop. It makes it easier to diagnose if you identify the plant, so if it's possible, bring a piece of the rhubarb to the vets.
It's better to visit your vet before symptoms arise if you know your dog has eaten some rhubarb. It's not toxic to dogs, but you'll probably have to go anyway after symptoms develop. Therefore, it's best to be proactive.
The vet will usually take a complete blood count, biochemistry profile and a urine sample. It will confirm the type of toxin, assess renal function and uncover any diseases present.
If your dog is vomiting, your vet might also take a vomit sample to confirm the diagnosis.
- Rhubarb isn't poisonous for dogs, but it can cause irritation and pain to the gastrointestinal tract.
- Symptoms can sometimes take up to two hours to appear if your dog hasn't chewed the rhubarb leaves.
- Treatment is only supportive, so taking action before your dog is severely affected will reduce their pain.
If your dog has eaten rhubarb, rinse the mouth and affected areas thoroughly with cool water. You want to remove as much as possible as this will relieve some of the pain.
Eating or drinking something cool might also help your dog until you can see your vet.
The majority of the time, dogs will only eat a small amount. The discomfort and the disgusting taste will be enough of a deterrent.
Therefore, rinsing your dog's mouth should be sufficient to stop any pain or symptoms developing.
If you don't know what your dog ate, or the amount, going to your vet's is always the best choice. With potentially toxic plants, you don't want to risk symptoms worsening.
Your vet might provide the following treatments:
IV fluids - to hydrate your dog, support their kidneys and flush out the toxins quicker.
Medication - It can be added to the IV to help your dog fight off the rhubarb plant. They could also give an antihistamine or gastroprotective medications to protect the stomach lining.
Pain relief - If your dog is overly distressed, in pain or uncomfortable, your vet will give them some pain relief.
If your dog's airway becomes dangerously swollen, they might need to stay overnight at the vets under observation until the swelling goes down.