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Rhubarb

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to moderate

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Inappetance
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Bloody urine
  • Changes in thirst and urination

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Rhubarb is a common plant grown for edible consumption, and is also known as the pie plant. The leaves contain soluble oxalate crystals, with less of the crystals being prevalent in the stalk. That’s why rhubarb stems are edible, but the leaves are not. Rhubarb is a soluble oxalate-containing plants contain oxalic acid and oxalate salts, and must be differentiated from insoluble oxalate plants (which are less toxic). Examples of other soluble calcium oxalate-containing plants include: star fruit and the shamrock plant. In general, soluble calcium oxalate poisoning is more commonly associated with large animals (from livestock chronically grazing). However, when ingested in large enough quantities in small animals, it can result in poisoning in dogs, cats, and even humans.

Soluble calcium oxalates are present in varying degrees in all parts of the plant. When soluble oxalate salts are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, they bind with body’s calcium, resulting in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals. Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination.

Poison type: Plants

Alternate names: pie plant, soluble calcium oxalate crystals, soluble oxalates