Dogs and Hops

The tiny tendrils of new hop bines (yes, they are called bines, not vines) are shooting up around my hop trellis. We grow 7 varieties of hops on a custom-built 20 foot trellis. Hops like to grow up, and up, and up and easily reach 20 feet in the course of a growing season. I think if you sat and watched them, you might even see them grow.


Most people know hops for beer making, but they are also beautiful as ornamental plants. They have large leaves and green cones. If you pick a hop cone at the end of summer and look inside it you'll see a fine, yellow dust. This dust is the main source for the funky, citrus, floral flavor we attribute to beer. Hops are also known for their antibacterial properties. They're pretty neat plants, overall.


That botany lesson aside, most people who read this blog are devoted dog lovers so what's useful to know about hops when it comes to dogs? Hops are poisonous to dogs. The interesting (and scary) thing though, is what happens to dogs when they ingest hops. It doesn't give them tummy ache (although this may happen to). The most concerning outcome is that they develop hyperthermia. Hyperthermia, not to be confused with hypothermia, is a fast rise in body temperature. It is often accompanied by muscle cramping, vomiting, seizures, restlessness and pain. It can lead to death. 

My hops are not fenced away from the dogs, in fact they surround our deck where we spend a good deal of time in the summer. The poodles display no desire to taste the plants, which is why I have little concern, but I do take some precautions to prevent any accidental exposure.
  1. The stay inside on harvest day, until all trace of residual hops are cleaned up.
  2. When brewing beer, the poodles aren't allowed in the kitchen.

It's best to avoid situations where dogs could consume hops or beer. It isn't worth the risk. A while back I heard of a new trend - beer for dogs. I have nothing against it, but it did concern me that if people didn't understand that this beer was hop-free, they may not understand that regular beer and Fido don't mix. If you do suspect that your dogs has ingested something containing hops, don't hesitate to call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline. I'm not an animal medical professional, so if you have questions on this topic I encourage you to speak with your vet. I'm just a gardener and a dog lover. The two can mesh quite nicely, as long as you know about the plants you are working with. 

Now little hops bines, get growing!




Comments

  1. Great post! Those are so pretty. I'd love to grow something like that at our house, but I'd worry about curious tasters. Plus, I'm new to gardening and need to start slow. Tomatoes and green beans. I want greens and zucchini too.

    I agree about the beer for dogs. Whenever I see things like that I cringe; it's the same as with commercials or memes showing kids sitting or standing on dogs. There is always going to be that part of the public who don't understand that regular beer is dangerous and the image of the kid was doctored.

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