Hexham and the surrounding Tyne Valley boasts some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside. With crops and livestock forging a landscape worthy of any oil painting, the potential dangers to our four-legged friends and our countryside is not always as obvious.

Rapeseed (Brassica napus subsp. napus), also known as oilseed rape, is a bright-yellow flowering member of the family Brassicaceae (mustard or cabbage family). Rapeseed is cultivated mainly for its oil-rich seed.

This time of year, rapeseed makes up fields full of beautiful yellow flowers. It can be tempting to want to allow your pets to run through it. But should you let them?

It is worth stressing that firstly, a rapeseed crop is not an area of exercise for dogs. It is a farmers livelihood and often private land. Some farmers do allow walking routes alongside a rapeseed crop, but these paths should be kept to, and any roaming dogs should be kept on a lead to ensure both the safety of the pet but also the farmers crop and nearby livestock. Secondly, we will discuss the scare-mongering around rapeseed and the actual effects it can have on your dog. It is incredibly rare to see a fatality which could be linked to rapeseed, although the press would have you believe it is an hourly occurrence, the symptoms that can develop are not pleasant for dogs.

Social Media says it could be dangerous?

Social media has it’s benefits and strengths, but one of it’s worst has to be scare mongering in order to gain “clicks”, or for profit. Although it is widely reported that dogs have died due to Rapeseed or been seriously ill, there is in fact very little scientific evidence to support this. In grazing animals, we may see severe signs including haemolytic anaemia, blindness, damaged nervous systems, digestive disorders and breathing problems – in our companion animals this is not commonly documented.

What could it do?

Dogs can develop gastrointestinal issues if they ingest some of the plant (an stomach upset with nausea and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea). There have also been reports of skin reactions which resemble burns that can cause pain and discomfort and require treatment. These outcomes are rare and certainly don’t happen to every animal that comes into contact with it! Despite the chances of serious issues being low, rapeseed can cause problems as a result of coming into contact with the plant and flower. Walking alongside a crop with permissible access should be safe enough. It is ingestion where most common issues will arise from, and occasionally contact.  .

What if my pet does exhibit issues following contact with rapeseed?

If your pet has been in contact with rapeseed and is showing any inflammation of the skin or around the eyes, skin irritation, gastrointestinal upset or any other concerning clinical signs, contact us for further advice.


Most importantly – Please always respect the countryside code and enjoy the fresh air with your four-legged friends!