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By Alexandria Vargas

Our canine companions and plant toxicity – pantry herbs and spices

With a variety of herbs and spices being used for everyday cooking, a lot of people grow and use their favorites in backyard herbal gardens. The freshness of the herb coming straight from your own backyard has a significant impact on flavor. However, these same tasty treats can have a vast array of negative impacts on the health and well-being of our canine companions.

A lot of common home-grown herbs and spices are considered extremely toxic for dogs. From high heart rate and panting to vomiting and gastrointestinal upset, the following are common cooking favorites that can have some dangerous side effects for our beloved companions. If ingested, or if any of these symptoms appear, contact your local veterinarian or ASPCA animal poison control center immediately. If possible, take a sample of the ingested plant with you to help with diagnosis.

  • Bay laurel can induce vomiting and diarrhea, and the leaves can cause an obstruction when ingested.
  • Caraway can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Chamomile can cause a wide array of medical complications such as contact dermatitis, vomiting and diarrhea. Chamomile can even cause anorexia and mild to severe allergic reactions. Long-term ingestion can lead to internal bleeding.
  • Chives induce vomiting, break down red blood cells, and can cause weakness, blood in urine, a high heart rate, and panting.
  • Eucalyptus is a highly potent herb that can cause severe salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, depression and weakness.
  • Garlic can induce vomiting and break down red blood cells. It can also cause weakness, a high heart rate, severe panting and blood in urine.
  • Leeks can cause red blood cells to break down when ingested and can also induce vomiting, cause weakness, increase heart rate and induce severe panting.
  • Lemon grass can cause mild gastrointestinal upset, though it is not a concern if ingested in cooked foods if it is in a small quantity.
  • Mint can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Oregano can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Parsley can cause photosensitization and ocular toxicity.
  • Spanish thyme, or any variation of thyme, can induce vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and anorexia.

While most of these effects can be caught in time to treat, it would be best to keep these spices and herbs out of reach in the pantry. There are also multiple ways you can keep your dog out of your garden and negate his urge to see if those grasses and plants taste as good as they smell.

One way is to spray the perimeter of the garden and the plants with white vinegar, which is readily available at almost any local grocery or gardening store. The pungent scent of white vinegar alone is a great natural repellent for dogs, and the sour taste deters them from eating anything that has come in contact with it.

Other natural alternatives are to plant daffodils around the garden and between the planted rows or to sprinkle crushed cayenne pepper over the plants and herbs. Both options give an unpleasant taste to a dog when licked or nibbled at and act as deterrents from taste-testing the remainder of the garden.

We all love our dogs and they are beloved members of our families. While it is impossible to monitor their actions and every plant they come into contact with, there are a variety of natural ways in which we can keep them safer and away from our gardens and spice cabinets. By using these methods and knowing what signs to look for, we can focus more on the love and playfulness our dogs want to share with us.

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