Vegetables are wonderful plants. They provide us with sustenance and a garden full of wonder throughout the year. While these plants are a wonderful thing, they may not be such good news for our furry friends. Certain vegetables are known to be toxic to pets. If your pet gardens with you, or has unattended access to your garden, think twice before planting certain vegetables. If you suspect your cat or dog has ingested a toxic vegetable, seek emergency veterinary medical care immediately.
Potatoes and Tomatoes
Potato plants, the perennial Solanum tuberosum, pose a particular danger for dogs and cats. These plants, along with tomatoes, or Solanum lycopersicum, fall into the same genus as deadly nightshade. Both tomato and potato plants contain the toxic principle of solanine, which is poisonous to both dogs and cats. When ingested, these plants have been known to cause anorexia, excessive salivation, gastrointestinal distress, diarrhea, lethargy, confusion, ataxia, weakness, depressed heart rate and, if left untreated, death.
Onions, Garlic, Leeks
Onions (Allium cepa), garlic (Allium sativum) and leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) all contain the active toxic principle N-propyl disulfide. This chemical causes a breakdown of red blood cells within the bodies of dogs and cats. Termed hemolytic anemia or Heinz body anemia, this breakdown leads to vomiting, blood in the urine and stool, lethargy, weakness, elevated heart rate and, if left untreated, death. Cats are more prone to the effects of onions, garlic and leeks than dogs, however the toxic effects are present in both household pets.
Rhubarb makes a wonderful pie filling, but is deadly when ingested by dogs and cats. Known scientifically as Rheum rhabarbarium, this plant contains calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate is the primary substance that makes up kidney stones and is also formed as a direct result of the ingestion of another deadly substance, antifreeze. If a cat or dog ingests rhubarb, the symptoms of tremors, salivation, kidney failure and coma may result.
Certain mushrooms produce adverse effects when eaten by people. All mushrooms produce adverse effects when eaten by dogs. Stomach pains, gas, diarrhea, nausea, excessive salivation, vomiting and permanent effects on the liver and kidneys can result from the ingestion of mushrooms. While few people cultivate these intentionally, it is possible and they can pop up after heavy spring rains.
The exact toxic principle in broccoli is unknown, but this plant and the vegetable that bears its name have been reported to cause toxic effects in dogs, and to a lesser extent, cats. Although the exact method of toxicity is unknown, it has been theorized that the amount of vitamins A and K in this vegetable produce marked effects in some pets and not others. Hypervitamintosis A and hypervitamintosis K are possible if your pet ingests enough of any substance containing these essential vitamins.