Elder bush plants (Sambucus spp.), also referred to as elderberry bushes, are deciduous shrubs that produce edible fruit commonly used to make jams and jellies. While the ripe fruits are safe for both people and pets to eat, the rest of the plant and its unripe fruits are toxic if eaten.
Elder bushes produce eye-catching clusters of white fragrant flowers and of dark purple to little black round fruits. These plants typically grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, depending on the species. The entire plant, including its unripe fruits, is considered highly toxic to both people and our canine companions, warns the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources website. The plants contain chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides. When chewed, these glycosides convert to hydrocyanic acid inside the body, poisoning your pup, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Depending on how much of an elder plant your pooch ingests, he may experience vomiting or diarrhea. Other symptoms of cyanogenic glycoside poisoning include drooling, trouble breathing, seizures, shock and coma, according to Dr. Karen Halligan's website. When a large amount of plant matter is ingested, it could be fatal so it's important that you get Spot to the vet right away if he's eaten any of your elder plants. She can provide supportive care for your pooch, remove the plant material from his tummy or administer medications to counteract his poisoning symptoms.
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility: Notes on Poisoning: Sambucus nigra
- Plants for a Future: Sambucus nigra -- L.
- Deerfield Veterinary Clinic: Plants Poisonous to Your Pets
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Overview of Cyanide Poisoning
- Infovets.com: Toxic Substances and Plants
- Karen "Doc" Halligan, DVM: 20 Foods You Should Never Feed Your Pet
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sambucus nigra
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sambucus canadensis
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