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Strange eating habit.

October 6th, 2010, 07:57 AM
My 14 year old cattle dog, Perkins, is starting to worry me with his craving for my lemon scented geraniums, I wish I knew if they are harmful or safe to eat. On the minus side, the plants are losing size because he really grabs mouthfuls of leaves to eat, while on the plus side, he has nice lemon scented breath. :D
It is strange in that none of the others seem interested. Can anyone set my mind at ease about this, please?

Actually, there are two pages on Pelargoniums (similar to geraniums) in a gardening catalogue I have and they refer to them as old fashioned herbs and say they are used as sweet flavouring for sorbets and cake icing by adventurous chefs ..... maybe the dog isn't as weird as I thought? Still, they're about to flower so I wish he'd quit eating them. :laughing:

October 6th, 2010, 09:27 AM
The ASPCA has a link that is convenient for quick lookup when you want to find out if certain plants are toxic:

Here is what it says about geraniums:


Additional Common Names: Many cultivars

Scientific Name: Pelargonium species

Family: Geraniaceae

Toxicity: Toxic to Cats, Toxic to Dogs

Toxic Principles: Geraniol, linalool

Clinical Signs: Vomiting, anorexia, depression, dermatitis

Edit: I was looking further and the Lemon Scented Geraniums you are referring to might or might not fit into the above category so I would check further before getting too excited arid getting rid of your nice smelling plants. Also if Perkins is scoffing down the plant so greedily one would think he would be displaying some of the above symptoms if this particular variety is toxic. If I find anything specific about this particular type of Geranium I will post it.

October 6th, 2010, 07:19 PM
mikischo, thank you very much for that info. My vet felt it was okay, but I've also phoned The Digger's Club for their opinion, expecting a reply by email. I think to be on the safe side, I will shift them to our front yard, away from the dogs. Fabulous link you gave me, I'll bookmark that and go right through all the plants. Interesting that apple seeds, leaves and stems are toxic, while dogs can eat apples safely .

October 6th, 2010, 07:37 PM
It would seem Pelargonium is non-toxic and a herb used in cooking :shrug:.

Lemon Scented – (P. Rober’s Lemon Rose) — A longtime favourite of growers because its reliable growth always brings satisfaction, this plant is also a hit with cooks due to its rosy-lemon perfume. The plant grows upright to a height of 20 to 24 inches, with many side branches forming a columnar type plant. The single flower is a light lavender colour.

Pretty interesting article here:

October 6th, 2010, 07:54 PM
7It would seem Pelargonium is non-toxic and a herb used in cooking :shrug:.

That is what makes it all quite confusing. I had always thought, and the ASPCA website says, that Pelargonium is the scientific name for geraniums. However, I know that some geraniums such as the scented varieties don't look very much like the common geraniums that we are so familiar with, although they still seem to be from the same family.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that a lot of things that are safe for us can be harmful to dogs or cats or other species.

October 6th, 2010, 10:51 PM
Not worth the risk. is it, mikischo? I liked his lemon scented breath but would hate to see the dear old boy make himself sick.
LP, that is the exact Pelargonium I am thinking it might be. Says here, used by chefs for candied sweets .... but I'll know when it flowers. It's 2 plants started from cuttings a neighbor kindly gave me and they haven't flowered since then. I forget what the flower is like now. Also says it's an oustanding evergreen foliage plant. Yeah, when not being mauled and eaten by a cattle dog. LOL.

October 6th, 2010, 11:11 PM
Oh, forgot to say, that's a really good article, LP. When I read this bit ...

It opened the way for plant explorers — people like John Tradescant (circa 1570s to 1638), gardener to Charles I — to bring exotic botanics to the great glass houses of Britain, Spain, and France.

I actually wondered if this Tradescant is the one that David Austin named one of his beautiful roses after? Seems possible. Just don't know if I am game to try the Lemon Chicken recipe with its 2 Tbsp finely chopped lemon-scented pelargonium leaves. When you see how much is in that dish, my dog was getting more than a human dose of it. They are where he can't get to them now.

Gail P
October 6th, 2010, 11:27 PM
I don't know about the toxicity of those plants, but is browsing on vegetation a cattle dog thing or something? My Flash (ACD mix) is a voracious grazer. He grabs mouthfuls of grass every time he's out...not to make himself sick or anything....he just really seems to enjoy eating it. :shrug: Every day during our walks around the fields he stops to graze and when I'm putting all the dogs back in the yard he's always the last one because he's over by my lilac bushes yanking out mouthfuls of the long grass that grows around there.

October 7th, 2010, 02:15 AM
Hi Gail. Yes, it seems to be their thing. More so than my Shelties come to think of it. Only trouble is when they are really old like Perkins and Cuddles you have that risk that if they vomit after eating scads of grass, they can choke. I have now had both of them scare the daylights out of me doing that. :eek: :eek: Perkins vomited, apparently couldn't breathe, so he tried rushing to me. Went splat right at my feet. Forelegs out the front, hind legs in the frog legs position, chin on the ground and out to it. Then Cuddles the other day, down she went after vomiting, struggling to get up and couldn't, fell on her face, no control of her legs. Both times I have hauled them into the air with both hands around each side of their flanks, and thank heaven, with a few lifts they have recovered. We have never let our dogs have unsupervised exercise, which is a good thing in these sorts of instances. My sister bred a sheltie that died after vomiting one day when its owner was away. I find my shelties LOVE the weeping mulberry branches. They will trim them to head height the way you see sheep prune trees in paddocks. LOL.

October 7th, 2010, 11:30 AM
I don't think it's solely a cattle dog thing. My golden retriever/shepherd mix loves grazing. NOt for an upset tummy, just to munch on it. If we could leave her out there we wouldn't have to mow!

Dog Dancer
October 7th, 2010, 02:42 PM
Glad to hear you moved the plants Goldfields, better safe than sorry. My Halo (lab x) loves to graze on grass when we're walking. Shadow will only eat it when she needs to be sick. Lovely stuff.

October 7th, 2010, 06:46 PM
If we could leave her out there we wouldn't have to mow!

That really made me laugh. :D I think you only notice it's a cattle dog thing when you've got another breed that doesn't go after grass like they do. My shelties would rather eat dirt than grass, but then they like to chew sticks too, or pens that fall on the floor etc..
Dog Dancer, the gardener and the dog lover in me couldn't stand it a minute longer, watching this dog do a lousy job of pruning :) and risking making himself sick. It was amazing how good he thought the plant was when not one other dog had given it any attention whatsoever. :laughing: