Sunday, June 1, 2014

Beware of Those of Stinging Nettles

It's spring. Everything is turning green. Lots of great things for an adventurous dog to do in the backyard. Trees are budding. Bugs to chomp. Maple roots (or canine Pixies Stix as I like to refer to them) to chew and suck on. Birds and squirrels to chase. And delicious Stinging Nettles leaves to munch on.  


Oh, these green leafy innocent looking plants suddenly grow up and tantalize the canine nose, tricking them into coming over and taking a chomp and then seriously regretting it. Now while these plants can be cooked up and are apparently delectable in some recipes (sorry, we'll skip it and just take folks' word for it), the little "stinger" hairs on the leaves and stems that are called "trisomes" and they release  histamine and acetylcholine, two chemicals which causes a contact dermatitis when touched by people and pets, and it really hurts and burns when touched, which is certainly enough to deter me from tangling with them. 

Photo from Pet Poison Helpline
But, the Huskies don't seem to be deterred. They insist on CHEWING them like they are a canine delicacy...until...they start drooling profusely, vomiting, being lethargic, and having some very nasty bloody diarrhea. Yep. All from those blasted Stinging Nettles. And you can't just pull them out, oh, no, they find a way of growing back it seems even faster! Hu-dad just spent the afternoon digging them all up with a shovel and making the yard once again a Nettles-Free Zone. Until they decide to come back again. Somehow, they always do.

You would think biting on them or licking them and getting the "stung" feeling would really put a crimp in chomping on them. But, as soon as they get let out, the Husky kids all go racing right down to the fence line, and tonight they paced and searched and sniffed wondering where their little nasty stinging obviously-for-some-crazy-reason addictive greenery went to. I think the FiveSibes were even a little upset that they were all gone. After they sniffed and snorted for a while, they retreated defeated to the deck to lounge. As I was walking Gibson back across the yard, I saw the tell tale sign of a big ol' blob of previously chewed Stinging Nettles leaves along the fence line. Now that's a snack with a bite. Last year we went through this and Wolf had chewed one and sat there drooling in front of me like someone turned on a saliva faucet for what seemed like an eternity (and giving this Hu-mom a heart attack). Harley gets bloody stools (scary and worrisome). Bandit was so lethargic, she wasn't interested in doing anything (strange behavior).  I've seen mystery vomit during this time also. At first, it scares me to think, what is wrong with my Husky? Then suddenly,  I glance over to the fence line and think, "They're baaack!" before having my husband go on a removal frenzy.

We fortunately came through the Stinging Nettles attack fine after several bouts of symptoms, but if your dog has ingested them and is acting sick and not getting better, please be sure to contact your vet right away for ways to help.

To read more about these nasty buggers, check out Pet Poison Hotline article HERE and, a two little tips when removing them...wear protective gloves and be sure to get rid of the whole plant, especially the roots or they will just keep coming back.

Until next time...stay safe and be healthy!


  1. Oh my dog!!!!! I have never heard of these before! I will have to check out that site and see if they grow here in Ontario!
    Thanks for sharing and i'm glad your sibes are all ok after eating them!!!! Sheesh! Oh and BTW, I went to my dog event over the weekend and of course, I was sporting your five sibes t shirt! I will be sending you some photos soon, plus my post tomorrow covers the event. Hope you had a great weekend!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  2. Oh my goodness, that sure sounds painful and distressing!