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Can Dogs Have Rhubarb? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Dogs Have Rhubarb

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

BVMS, MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you have a green thumb and love growing your own food, you may have rhubarb somewhere in your vegetable patch. If you are a pet owner, it is also very likely that you have a canine companion that enjoys your garden with you. In that case, it is important to know what is safe or unsafe in your garden for your dog. If your dog has been sniffing around your rhubarb, you may be wondering if your dog can eat it. The answer is no. The stalks may be safe for your dog, but the leaves are poisonous.


Can Dogs Eat Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a vegetable that is often used in food for its texture and tart flavor. It is easy to spot in someone’s yard because of its bright red stalks and large green leaves.  It is often used for making jams, pies, and puddings, but it should be kept away from your dog. While it has a tart and slightly sour taste, most dogs won’t be drawn to it, but we know how dogs are; some will eat just about anything.

Rhubarb contains soluble calcium oxalate crystals, which are problematic for dogs; however, the stalks have a much lower amount than the leaves. To be safe, avoid feeding rhubarb to your dog and keep your pet away from the rhubarb in the garden.

Is Rhubarb Toxic to Dogs?

Cute French Bulldog hungry and drooling
Photo Credit: Amornpant Kookaki, Shutterstock

Rhubarb is considered mildly toxic to dogs because it contains soluble calcium oxalate crystals. This compound is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and binds with calcium in the body. This can result in a drop in calcium levels in the blood and then clinical signs and kidney damage follow.

High amounts of rhubarb can result in kidney failure. If your dog eats large portions of rhubarb, especially the leaves, they can show signs such as:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloody or discolored urine

Most dogs won’t naturally be drawn to rhubarb, but some may be curious enough to take a bite from a stalk in the garden.

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Can Dogs Eat Cooked Rhubarb?

Cooking can sometimes make food safer and often makes it more palatable, but unfortunately, cooked rhubarb is unsuitable for dogs. Even though rhubarb is considered a vegetable, it is usually cooked to make pies with loads of sugar. As you know, sugar is not good for dogs because if it is eaten in excess, it can cause issues such as weight gain and diabetes.

Cooked red rhubarb
Photo Credit: Ines Behrens-Kunkel, Shutterstock

What If My Dog Eats Rhubarb?

If your dog had a feast in the garden and ate the rhubarb’s stalks and leaves, you should act fast. Don’t wait for your dog to become ill or show signs of poisoning; call your vet immediately. Rinse out your dog’s mouth with water and head to the vet’s office. Try to take note of the amount of rhubarb your dog ingested and if it had more leaves or stalks. The more information your veterinarian has, the better.

Your vet may administer IV fluids to support the kidneys, flush out toxins, and hydrate your dog. They may also administer medication such as antihistamines and prescribe pain relief medicine to help your dog feel more comfortable.

Can Rhubarb Stems Be a Healthy Part of My Dog’s Diet?

Ok, so if the stems are much safer, can they be added to my dog’s diet in small amounts? We do not recommend giving your dog any rhubarb due to the risks involved; however, they provide some benefits, such as fiber, water, and potassium.

Fortunately, there are other perfectly safe ways to provide your dog with fiber and potassium while avoiding rhubarb stems.

rhubarb stalks
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

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While parts of the rhubarb plant are safer than the leaves, we don’t recommend feeding them to your dog. However, if your dog gets into the plant’s crunchy stalks, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but you will need to monitor your dog for any signs of toxicity. The leaves are highly toxic, so your dog should stay away from them. Your pup is not missing out on any nutritional benefits since they can get similar, if not better, nutrients from safer plants.

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