Monday, 14 November 2011

the dangers of dogs eating beans

Most evenings we eat vegetables and so does Penny. Her favorite place in the house is near the food preparation bench, where she sits patiently waiting for off-cuts of vegetables - carrots, particularly. One thing she loves also is the end of a bean. We've been giving her little bits of green beans for ages.

Lately I've been growing broad beans in the garden, mainly so I can dig them in and add to the nitrogen in the soil. But last night the pods of beans looked so enticing that we decided to cook some and eat them. (Okay, those who know we were supposed to eat the beans inside, and not the pods, are wincing, I guess.)

Human number two threw a couple of cut-off ends to Penny and decided to throw the rest in the compost, because of the funny whitish look of them.

Thank goodness she didn't give Penny the usual amount, because ten minutes later Penny was in the garden throwing up. And again, thirty minutes later, after she had her evening meal.

Of course, other than keeping an eye on her, it was immediately off to the internet to look for information.

First of all I came across this story, from bakers8:

I came home from work this week and thought that I would see if any of the broad beans were ready for eating. Upon viewing the vegetable garden I wondered at the fact that there were quite a few long stems of beans lying flat. It hadn’t been overly windy that day and it was dry. What had happened? Then I saw that there were no beans on any of the stems that were on the ground. No beans?

I puzzled for a while, picked some beans and went inside to prepare them for dinner. The chooks were happy to receive the empty pods and I thought no more about it – until M asked if I had fed Terry some broad beans. A lot of broad beans.

“No” I said, “I don’t think he likes them”.

“Well” said M, “there are a number of piles of dog vomit around the yard and it’s all broad beans!” (apologies to the faint and/or those with vivid imaginations).

Sure enough, there was the evidence that somebody had decided to have a little smorgasbord prior to my return. And he must be feeling rather poorly as he hadn’t performed the other disgusting dog habit of cleaning up after himself!

I also found this on GardenWeb:
Beans in the family Phaseolus Vulgaris contain a chemical called Phytohaemagglutinin. If you cook it, the chemical is released and poses no threat. Raw, it's pretty nasty. In humans, eating small amounts of it via raw beans isn't usually fatal (from what I know, so don't read this, eat some raw beans then sue me when you die or get deathly ill), but even eating a small dose can cause some serious sickness like vomiting and general malaise and all. It's not usually fatal in humans unless larger amounts are consumed, but it's still dangerous enough to where I wouldn't eat raw beans.
It's dangerous though to most animals, not just humans. So, a dog would be just as likely to get it, if not more likely, as a human.
After all this research, I began to wonder whether my plants were in fact the same broad beans that others were writing about. However, I felt sure I had identified my plants correctly when I looked at the photos on this site, and read:
In much of the Anglophone world, the name broad bean is used for the large-seeded cultivars grown for human food, while horse bean and field bean refer to cultivars with smaller, harder seeds (more like the wild species) used for animal feed, though their stronger flavour is preferred in some human food recipes, such as falafel.
The term fava bean (from the Italian fava, meaning "broad bean") is its most common name in the United States, with broad bean being the most common name in the UK.
By the way, Penny seems fine today. Also, quite separately from her reaction to the beans, we scraped our own cooked pods into the compost because they tasted so awful.


Lassiter Chase and Benjamin said...

Finally get a chance to read up on some older blog posts. Oh my goodness Penny I hope you are ok.

parlance said...

Lassiter Chase, she was fine in a couple of hours.